Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Real Hitch: Professional Pick-up Artists

I'm sure most of you have seen the movie "Hitch", a popular option for Friday night entertainment. For those of you who haven't, the story revolves around Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Will Smith) who is a dating coach. He takes insecure, clueless men and helps them land dates, even relationships. He advises them on the first contact, their personal style, dancing, kissing, women signals, etc. He takes a chump and turns out a Casanova.

While I always thought it was a fun movie, I never knew that such coaches existed. I recently discovered that there's a whole "seduction community" with "professional pick-up artists." These PUAs write books, run blogs, and teach seminars that focus on helping men land women. Neil Strass, a famous PUA, wrote a book called "The Game" that explored the seduction community, following leading PUAs around on their daily pick-ups. Mystery, one of the most famous PUAs, even has his own reality tv show called (surprise, surprise) "The Pickup Artist" where he takes Average Frustrated Chumps (AFCs) and teaches them how to be a real pick-up artist. Both Strauss and Mystery have had numerous articles written on them and were both featured (separately) on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

I was curious about this "seduction community" so I read a couple of articles and watched a few episodes of Mystery's show. At first glance, I thought it was terrible. At second glance, I thought it could be a great thing. At third glance, I decided that the seduction community has, as does everything, a good and bad side to it.

Let's start with the good. I really think that a lot of things that I saw on the show could be very helpful for guys. Mystery worked a lot with the guys on self-confidence and self-esteem. He showed them that it wasn't just about getting women to like them; it was also about respecting themselves. The confidence they learned not only helped them with women but also with people in general . They learned to communicate.

I also think it's good that it gives nice guys a fighting chance. Maybe a guy is nice, but he doesn't know the tricks that other guys do. He doesn't have the natural talent or confidence to just walk up to a woman and start a conversation. Maybe they'd get along great. Maybe they'd make a wonderful couple. But they have to meet somehow, and that can often be the hard part.

Sometimes these guys are slammed for using canned openers (the ways they begin a conversation with a woman or group). They'll share interesting questions or stories to start conversations. True, these aren't terribly original (and maybe even a bit dis-honest), but it does help initiate contact. In the words of Hitch, "Does it ever occur to women that maybe a guy might like to have a plan, you know, because he's nervous? He's not sure that he could just walk up to you and you'd respond if he said "I like you."" He's right. Most women would not respond well to that, because they don't know the guy. Maybe those canned lines will give them both a chance to get to know each other so the woman can make a fair judgment.

In my personal opinion the best aspect of the seduction community is that it teaches guys how to read women's signals. I think that's awesome. I mean, how many times have you beamed sympathetic thoughts to an uninterested yet ever-so-polite girl that is listening to an enthusiastic yet ever-so-clueless guy. Or tried to think of an excuse that isn't a lie for not giving a guy your number or meeting him later. OR, on the other end of the spectrum, seen a googly-eyed girl hang on the every word of some poor schmuck who never even takes the hint. Yeah, it happens all the time. And guys like Mystery are trying to give other guys a clue. I think they could use it.

There are definitely downsides to the seduction community. Sure, some PUAs are looking for the girl of their dreams. They use their new knowledge to try to make friends and ultimately find a girlfriend. But, for every good-hearted Romeo, there are plenty of chauvinistic slimesters trying to manipulate their way into girls' pants. They know how to read the signs, use just the right amount of friendly touching, make their target emotionally safe, and suggest that the women go with them at the right time.

Then there's the whole objectification thing. What do these women really mean to PUAs? Do these men actually care about the girls or do they just appear to care as one of their techniques? Is each new woman just a conquest that will raise their credibility as a pick-up artist? I don't know. I know that some just want a normal relationship and need the tools to achieve that, but others seem to have their hearts set on being man-whores.

I do have to admit that despite all the bad things that comes along with PUAs, some of their openers are pretty great. For example, here's a clip of Neil Strass (a seemingly likeable guy) demonstrating the Five Question Opener. I thought it was very creative.
See? That's just fun.

So if a guy ever comes up to you in coffee shop with one of those amusing games or anecdotes, know that he probably isn't that funny on his own. But then again, maybe it doesn't matter.


  1. You bring up good points about the good and bad of the "art" of "picking-up" someone. I tend to be more skeptical when assessing a guy's motives, but I don't really have to worry because I don't really know any guys and I don't hang out in bars. :)

  2. Actually, on the show they talked about "picking up" women in many places. Clubs, coffee shops, the grocery store, a restaurant, on a walking trail. Basically, the whole world is their playing field. But if you don't want to be picked up, you can always put on an F-off face and hope that will repel them.


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