Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Last Seduction

RAZOR, July/August, 2005
Every Maverick needs a Goose, but should you pay for one?
By Anna David
The concept of men showing other men how to pick up women isn't entirely new. Not only was there Ross Jeffries' 1992 book How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed (which emphasized conscious manipulation), but you men have been casually coaching your buddies on how to acquire would-be conquests (in exchange for wingman credit) for years. Yet Hitch fever seems to be sweeping the nation of late, with a variety of pickup gurus claiming they can teach men how to make us limp with list -- for a small fee.

It all seems to have shifted up a few gears several years ago when an inordinately tall Canadian named Erik von Merkovik (nom de plume: Mystery) began gaining online attention for developing things like "the neg theory," which essentially says that the best way for a man to get a hot woman interested is to lob her a qualifier that's designed to both compliment and subtly one-up her (e.g., "Nice nails - are they real?"). Since then, companies like Double Your Dating, Real Social Dynamics and Pick Up 101 have popped up everywhere, and while we ladies sat home watching Sex and the City, many of you were learning how to make us want to have sex in your city.

Like most women who'd gotten wind of this, I was distinctly unimpressed. The last thing our society needed, I thought, was more men abandoning actual intimate relationships for casual one-night affairs. Besides, I can basically recall only one time when I was actually seduced - that is, where I succumbed to a guy's advances based almost entirely on his efforts to woo me. See, addicted as I am to my alpha-female role - I tend to decide whom I want and then engage in mutual, verbal and physical flirting - I essentially believed that the mating dance happened naturally, and not by following a set of rules complete with its own glossary (see sidebar).

I was also highly skeptical of the fact that seduction was something that could be taught at all, and quite convinced that men trying to do so were essentially old-fashioned shysters trying to feed on - and exploit - the insecurity (and wallets) of other men.

So when Seth Parker, one of my seduction instructors for the afternoon, explained that he might hit on me in a bookstore by wrapping up a magazine and bopping me on the head with it, I casually explained where I would have wanted to shove that magazine. (Guys, this is not an "approach" I'd recommend, unless you happen to be, say, Colin Farrell.)

Seth is partners with Cameron Theone, Ranko Magami, and Robert Torrey in Fidentia (“confidence” in Latin), an LA-based company that teaches nebbishy, bespectacled or simply curious men to discover their inner sex gods ( By the end of one of their three-day, $650, bimonthly workshops, a graduate should be able to walk up to a group of attractive women (known in these circles as a "cold approach"), single out the cutest one and seduce her. All three days of the workshop, in fact, end in bars and nightclubs where students can try out their new skills while their proud tutors look on from their own tables of conquests.

On the surface, none of Fidentia's three partners (Ranko lives in Europe, where he's currently working on an eight-CD seduction series) scream lady-killer. But I guess this makes sense. I mean, how could a group of AFC's (Average Frustrated Chumps) relate to a triumvirate of Brad Pitt doppelgangers? I was surprised to discover, however, that all three of these guys were actually quite articulate, peppering their conversation with enough three-syllable words that I started to believe they weren’t just for the tape recorder’s benefit. And when they swore that most of the men that come to them want girlfriends and not a succession of one-nighters, I actually believed them.

Robert mapped out an eight-part strategy that made sense, including getting comfortable by taking up more physical space (I'm a fan of any guy who's comfortable with his body, because it suggests a certain level of innate sexual confidence), and watching the coveted girl for I.O.I.’s, (Indicators of Interest, like playing with her hair, smiling, teasing you and asking questions about you). Most women could fill notebooks with incidents where men seemed to be utterly devoid of this skill, but I still wasn't remotely willing to imagine that any of this crap could actually work on me.

Until I told Seth as much, and, thoroughly undeterred, he glanced over at me casually and uttered, "Well, I probably wouldn't hit on you, anyway."

Now, I'm not stupid. I understood the game he was playing, and that he was a self-defined expert at it. But I have to admit that it threw me off a bit.

Cameron was even better at defying my expectations. I wasn't thoroughly charmed by his bravado on the notion of cold approaching ("I don't even consider meeting a girl after exchanging eye contact a cold approach anymore - that's just for amateurs") but he began to win me over when he explained what women want in men. "The time of watching Steel Magnolias and The English Patient and crying together is over," he declared. "If you're a guy, be a guy. Don't kiss ass; don't supplicate. Don't be wishy-washy, indecisive, and overly needy. Are you conveying playful, a guy who has a strong reality and purpose and goes out and gets what he wants, or are you the guy that's nervous and needy and seems to be saying, 'If I buy you a drink, will you like me?'"

And Cameron and Co. don't perpetuate things like the neg theory, or believe that women like men who are assholes - just that we respond when someone is both strong and light in their approach (say, asking a girl out playfully, making it clear that you won’t resent her if she says no), which is a harder combination to master than you might think because of a little thing called the male ego.

Still, some of what these guys suggest may still be a bit much. Seth thinks that men should approach women they don't know with the same confidence they would an acquaintance of five years, and believes that even if women are blatantly rude, they shouldn't falter. "If a really nerdy guy walks up to a group of really beautiful girls and he says, 'Hey,' and they say, 'Fuck off,' he's probably going to bend over and walk away," says Seth. "But if a better looking guy who has more money than Donald Trump walks up and they say, 'Fuck off,' he's probably going to say, 'Yeah, right,' and stay there."

But where does this kind of advice leave us, exactly? Is approaching women and pretending not to notice that they're annoyed actually a good idea? I mean, where's the line between confident guy and annoying lech?

"Whenever I go actively seeking seduction as a primary motive, I usually end up going home alone," says Colin, an attractive actor. "My most successful 'seductions' have been moderately random, when I'm relaxed and genuinely interested in something relating to the woman." Still, Colin concedes that teaching shy guys to be more confident and deserving of whatever women they're attracted to "is not a bad thing." As Colin says, "Many of us will not talk to that 'hot chick' based simply on the feeling that we're not good enough."

My friend Peter, meanwhile, is irritated by the very notion of seduction instructors. "I don't believe in tricks or gimmicks or any of the crap these guys recommend," he says, relaying a time he was at a wedding with a hair model and one of these coaches, "a big loser," says Peter, "was all alone and jealous."

There are others who agree with Peter. As my friend Veronica says, "I'm a fan of mystery [note the lower-case m], so I like it if a guy keeps himself a little at arm's length." And my friend C.J. says that if she's not immediately attracted to a guy, he doesn't stand a chance.

So, is this seduction instruction thing a waste of time and money, or the answer to a lifetime of the cold shoulder? I guess it depends on the guy - not to mention the girl he's after. But a class could at least help remind men that sometimes all you need to do is try. In these days of appropriate behavior and mutual respect, we women can go months without even being flirted with. And, apologies to the PC police (not that I imagine many of you read Razor), but, take it from a woman -- being pursued with a light, playful touch feels good.

Take the way Cameron treated me. "Here's my number, in case you decide you want to go on a date," he said as I was leaving, and though I don't imagine that happening (I'm not going to date a dating instructor, even if we could sell the rights to our story and make a mint), he did manage to make me do a complete 180 simply by keeping up his end of our verbal bantering without getting defensive or letting me intimidate him. And if other men who might otherwise walk right by or sit in silence can learn that in a class, I say sign on up.

Then, once you've got the flirting thing down, we can cry together over Beaches all we want.

Just a Gigolo
If you're interested in finding the class that can help bring out your hidden ladies man, check out the following:

Mystery Method – A method overseen by Mystery, and his henchmen Savoy, Lovedrop, Sinn, DJ, Misschievous, Francis, Ludechick and Samurai, the Mystery Method is a system of attraction that’s been developed over the past decade; popular Mystery moves include the “neg theory” and the three-second rule (approaching a girl within three seconds of making eye contact with her). Workshops are all over North America and Europe and cost $850 for three days and $1850 for three days and three nights. (

Real Social Dynamics - A company that offers Bootcamp ($1500 for three days of intensive one-on-one education) as well as $900 seminars worldwide that teach men such things as how to create "cocky and funny material on the sly" and how to play hard-to-get. (

Speed Seduction – Workshops taught by the master himself, Ross Jeffries, can be found all over the world ($995 for three days) with Jeffries’ unconditional guarantee: “If you don’t get laid, I don’t get paid.” (

Dating Workshop Glossary:
Target: The woman you’re after
Number close:You ended the conversation with her phone number
Kiss Close:You also swapped a little spit
Excuser: A guy who makes every excuse to not approach a woman or start a conversation with her
PUA: Pick up Artist
LJBF: "Let's just be friends." (Essentially, the last thing on earth a PUA wants his target to say)

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