Monday, August 13, 2007

The Pick-Up Artist

In case you cannot already tell that my personal life must be deathly boring right now, I will continue on with my dating topic....

So this weekend, I caught the encore presentation of a new VH1 show called "The Pick-Up Artist". Like most new shows these days, this is yet another reality competition show. They have gathered up a group of geeky, shy and/or insecure single men and this guy who calls himself "Mystery" is going to teach them how to pick up chicks. Each week, the weakest link will be eliminated, which will only serve to increase their insecurities, which makes absolutely no sense to me. (If they are doing poorly, don't they need to stay on the show??) The winner gets $50k, and I presume, lots of one night stands with unsuspecting 21 year olds. Anyway, here is the trailer for the show.

I don't know if you can watch episode one on the VH1 website for the show or not, but the site does provide a good background on the show's idea, as well as photos of all the contestants. I am going to summarize the first episode here in this post.

When the show first came on, I thought, "Sweet! This fits in perfectly with my blog!" -- which should really point out how much of a nerd I am. Then I thought, "I bet this show is going to be really bad. It can't be better than 'Beauty and the Geek'." [Note: If you have not watched "Beauty and the Geek", I highly recommend it. The geeky guys get coaching from real, actual women, which is how I think every dating coach show should go.]

There are about 8 guys on this "Pick-Up Artist" show. None of them are going to be SOL. Well, except for the token Ultra Nerd, who seems to be one action figure and 20 years away from being a real-life Andy Stitzer. But the rest of them definitely have hope. A couple of them are pretty cute, actually. One guy claims a lot of girls think he's gay. One guy feels he's too old to be doing this, another guy totally freezes up anytime a cute girl is nearby. But for the most part, they just seem to lack confidence, a surefire way to fail at picking up girls. Like I said, though, there is hope for pretty much all of them.

After "meeting" all of the contestants, I was expecting the coach to be a modern-day James Bond: suave, adult, classy and very masculine. I pictured an incredibly attractive and charming Armani-suit-wearing Calvin Klein underwear model. "Oh, PLEASE be Julian McMahon!" I thought. Who comes out? Some Goth version of Kid Rock. He calls himself "Mystery". My eyeballs almost rolled right out of my head. I think I may have laughed out loud. He had SO many strikes against him, right off the bat, in my book:

1. What's with the pseudonym? How pretentious!
2. The only guys who can wear eyeliner and get away with it are Johnny Depp and David Bowie. But that's IT.
3. Guys who paint their fingernails black? EW. Creepy.
4. What's with the goggles, hats and other costume-y outfits??? It looks stupid. Like he's trying too hard for attention.
5. Long hair??? Didn't that go out about 10 years ago???

So as you can tell, he failed to impress me. At all. "That guy couldn't pick me up if he paid me a million dollars. This ought to be good. I can't wait to rip this 'expert' apart. He's probably just as clueless as his students," I thought, as I settled into my couch, along with my diet coke and animal cookies.

But my eye-rolling wasn't done yet. "Mystery" had assistant coaches: "Matador", a cocky, swarthy, Latino-type guy in a leather jacket and "J-Dog", who with his platinum-bleached hair and black stripes down the side of his head (yes, you read that correctly), struck me as The Guy Who Tries Too Hard, rather than some dating coach. He claims he's an engineer by trade. "Yeah, right. I know so many engineers who sport fur coats and dog-spike collars," I mentally sneered.

"I wouldn't touch any of these guys with a ten-foot pole," I thought. "They are all pretentious, cocky and gimmicky. They look like groupies for some Motley Crue Reunion Tour." *more eye rolling*

I almost changed the channel to alleviate my nausea, but then the contestants started to get under my skin. If there's one thing I'm a sucker for, it's an Underdog Guy. Much like "Average Joe", I was hooked instantly and rooting for all of them.

After all the initial introductions, they threw these poor, unsuspecting guys as-is into a large bar in Austin, TX. It was full of beautiful co-eds. Each one of the guys failed miserably-- boring approaches, awkward comments, depressing topics and entirely too much staring ensued. One guy turned into a complete wallflower and spoke to no one at all, preferring instead to be the Creepy Guy Alone at a Bar (NEVER EVER be that guy. EVER. It is pick-up suicide). In short, they all crashed and burned. I realize it is important to illustrate to the audience how pathetic these guys are, but it's not like they needed to be reminded! My heart went out to them. They were crushed! One guy was crying! I had no idea it was so challenging and stressful for some guys to even just simply talk to a woman! WOW. My eyes have been opened, and I think I will be a lot nicer to creepy jerks and losers who try and talk to me in bars.

But I digress.

My next thought was, "Wait. These guys are all saying they'd like to have girlfriends, but it looks like this show is trying to get them hook-ups or one-night stands. I'm thinking there was a miscommunication along the way. These are Nice Guys who just need some confidence-building. This Mystery guy sounds like he's going to turn them into players! We don't need more players!!! I wish they would show these guys they don't have to choose between Awkward and Asshole!!!! There is a third choice, and it lies in the middle. It's called Awesome. THAT's what they should be aiming for!!! This show is ticking me off!!!"

I almost chucked my remote at the tv at this point (Ok, not really, but it paints a nice image, right?). Then it cut to a shot of all the guys standing in front of Mystery and crew.

"I'm going to ask you guys a pretty personal question right now," Mystery said.
The guys looked at each other nervously.
"How many of you are virgins?" he asked, bluntly.

I couldn't believe it. The youngest guy on the show is about 25, I think. I had no idea it was so bad. "Holy Shit! Forget girlfriends! These guys need to get laid!!" I thought. "I mean, they just need something to get them over the hump, so to speak. They do need this cocky asshole of a coach! WOW!"

This completely blew my mind, y'all. I mean, I could see firsthand how terrible they were at approaching women, but I thought for SURE they must have had some drunk night in college where they lucked out. Um, not so much! These guys need serious help. Some of them have never had girlfriends. Ever.

Mystery & Crew went over each guy's footage with them (the poor guys were filmed as they tried to pick up girls, as if they needed more stress added to the situation...). And although Mystery, Matador and J-Dog made me want to barf, I have to say, their critiques were DEAD ON. It was like they were taking the words right out of my mouth: "Why did you ask that stupid question? Why do you think that would work? Where is that conversation line even going? Why are you ignoring her friend? Can't you tell by the look on her face that she wants you to go away?" etc. Every criticism and comment illustrated the coaches' PERFECT understanding of how to approach a woman successfully. The best tip I heard? NEVER start out with introductions. Women don't like telling strange guys their name. You can get to names later. "Holy shit. That's absolutely right. I never realized that!" I thought.

To add insult to injury, for the last part of the show, Mystery and his Wingmen went into the same bar, about 30 minutes later and showed the contestants how it's done. The Nice Guys were blown away at their success. The Pick Up Artists (PUAs) were totally opposite in their behavior: confident, interesting, upbeat and fun. And although I cannot STAND the way they dress and look, I have to say that at least they would put me at ease. I can't say they'd be successful at getting my number, but I'd definitely rather talk to them than the insecure guys.

Needless to say, I'll be watching Episode #2 tonight at 9pm EST. Want to join me?

If you want more info about this Mystery guy, check out these websites:

Holy Cow, he's got a Wikipedia entry.

His "Venusian Arts" homepage [Insert eye-rolling here.] It claims to have free tips on there, but all I can find are descriptions of his seminars, which cost a SMALL FORTUNE and are SELLING OUT despite that fact. (This totally blows my mind that guys pay so much money for this!!!) I guess I shouldn't be surprised at all of the plugging. This guy is making a living doing this. This is America, after all.

There's also a blog, which has a video I presume is to illustrate the PUA lifestyle: an endless stream of random, half-naked and beautiful women in your bed. [Insert more eye-rolling and gagging here.] It's not really 100% work-appropriate, btw. I can't believe this is the "ideal" lifestyle for so many men. I would title the video "The Fastest Route to Herpes" if I had my way. Is this guy for real? Do men find this lifestyle fulfilling? Is this what men are honestly striving for?

I guess I don't understand men as well as I thought I did....

Anyway, make sure you catch the video of Mystery's interview on Conan O'Brien. (There's a link to it in the sidebar of the blog I just mentioned.) Conan rips him apart, and it's hilarious. As if I need another reason to love Conan O'Brien! I friggin love that guy. I was actually upset when he got married. That's who I want to approach me in bars! Where are the Conans of the world???


RWA said...

"I guess I don't understand men as well as I thought I did...."

Oh, come on now. You write all of this, and NOW you want to say that? Don't underestimate yourself.

lenfercestlesautres said...

Well I've never seen an American episode of The Beauty and the Geek, but the German ones suck. I mean, the beauties are some real shallow (ok, I guess that's a prerequisite) bitches. It's totally annoying.

Phantom Hater said...

With most guys, there is a direct link between confidence and frequency of getting laid. It works in both directions. If, at age 30 or so, you had never had sex, your confidence-level would probably have atrophied so much you are almost a hopeless case. Sort of like The 40-year-old-Virgin.

lenfercestlesautres said...

Oh, and I'm totally sure the girls they pick up on that mystery show are not for real. If that makes you feel better. Even though the guy sounds like he's got a point.

Kraig said...

With great power comes great responsibility. Ok, excuse me from being too geeky.

Some people are naturally good at picking up girls, some are bad. The more extroverted you are, and the better at making people comfortable, the more successful you end up being

A pick up artist is essentially that, but one who does it consciously. They were either naturally good at it, or learned it, but either way, its an active effort.

What you do with that knowledge/ability depends on you. Some guys will use it to get laid all the time. Others may use it to find that girl and make her feel wonderful.

The only thing I don't like about their methods is where they are designed to make the girl loose confidence. I can see how sometimes its needed though as some girls are too stuck up to even acknowledge a bunch of guys that she arbitrarily judges aren't good enough for her.

I do love seeing guys that get right into the pickup artist thing go out and try to pick girls up, it can be entertaining, and sometimes even fun to mess with them. Their methods leave a lot of doors open to make them look bad to the girl fairly easily.

In the end, its all about confidence. Picking up a girl is a confidence booster. doing it regularly is a constant stream of confidence boosters. Its less about the random 1 night stands as it is about making them feel better about themselves.

I didn't really see Conan ripping him apart. He joked around, but it wasn't derogatory or insulting. A lot of the methods sound amusing at first glance. I mean... Peakocking? How can you note joke about that.

Matt Savage said...


I loved reading your perception of the show. It was definitely interesting to hear your initial reactions to Mystery. You're right, he does go a bit overboard in his peacocking but that is all part of his particular style. Most pick-up artists don't go this far and tend to have more of a James Bond type appearance. The point is to separate yourself from all the other "average" guys and create an identity for yourself.

I'm not sure why you assumed that these guys would be turned into assholes. Perhaps you have the wrong perception of a pick-up artist. Most of the guys who seek help from Mystery just simply want to learn how to become better at attracting women without the intentions of becoming a player.

Also, I'm not sure if you noticed that one quote by Mystery, "This game isn't just about picking up women, it's about building a life."
I think we'll see in future episodes that the changes in these guys won't be as superficial as you think.

Anyways, I'll definitely be joining you in watching tonights episode. Should be fun!


Stuck said...

"Keys to the VIP Lounge" is a better show, because they're taking people who think they already have game and making them compete against one another.

To address your question about whether or not this is what men are striving for, the answer is yes. Maybe not everyone, but I'd say the large majority of men would LOVE to be able to walk up to any woman and talk to her without feeling nervous.

Rather than roll your eyes and gag. read one of their books. Hell, read almost any of the testimonials at Stylelife. You'll see that most guys sign up for this sort of thing to get over the Fear of Talking to Women. It's not about getting laid for the average student.

(And if you read The Game, by the Neil Strauss, you'll learn how well it worked for Mystery, and how the "rockstar lifestyle" put him in therapy several times.)

Virginia Belle said...

Oh! I love it! This post has the best comments ever!

rwa-- well, yeah, if getting laid is the ultimate and only goal of men. i mean, i know it's up there on the list of priorities, but eventually, wouldn't every guy want a great girlfriend??? i will try not to underestimate myself again, but this PUA philosophy kind of threw me for a loop!

len -- i would think the german version would be awful, yes. you need to check out the american version. i haven't seen a ton of episodes, but most of the people (guys and girls) on that show are really really nice.

PH-- um...that's pretty much true for girls, too.....*ahem*

kraig -- WHEW! i'm glad to learn not every guy using this method is simply out to bang his brains out until further notice. because really, the thought of that basically disgusts me. i'm glad most guys are using these powers for good purposes. i also dislike the notion of taking her ego down a notch in order to manipulate her. that's not cool. and i'm not sure if she's arbitrarily deeming men as not worthy. now, after seeing this show and learning more about the method, i'm thinking that their approach might just SUCK. really, it's just like sales. just because you're not meeting your goals doesn't mean you're selling a crappy product. you might just have bad advertising. i bet they can really mess up though, like you said, when they try and practice what they've learned. but practice makes perfect. i liked how you stated the following:

"In the end, its all about confidence. Picking up a girl is a confidence booster. doing it regularly is a constant stream of confidence boosters. Its less about the random 1 night stands as it is about making them feel better about themselves." -- this is a VERY good point. well said. and i'm glad to learn it's not just about random one night stands. WHEW. and yes, peacocking is pretty funny....yet totally unnecessary, if you ask me.

savage -- please encourage more men to strive for the James Bond look. i can guarantee they will get more pickups than if they look like Dave Navarro. the thing is, i'd rather the guy separate himself from the masses with his jokes, life experience or intelligence. a fancy hat is just that. nothing more. thank you for the clarification on the player fear i have. when i watched that video on Mystery's blog, i was offended. and it takes a LOT to offend a hornball pervert like me. i'm glad most of the PUAs in training just want to meet women. now THAT is a cause i can fully support. and yes, i did catch that quote from Mystery. (Uck. can i please refer to him as Erik??) i was waiting to see it pan out before mentioning it.

Stuck-- you are misunderstanding my concern. i'm worried guys all over the country are just doing this in order to see how many one night stand notches they can put on their bedposts. THAT is disgusting to me. but if the vast majority of them just want to learn how to approach women fearlessly, then that's AWESOME and i totally encourage that. i have a lot of sympathy for guys who find this to be a daunting task. i know how i am, and i'm not always welcoming guys with open arms. (i guess i have myself to blame, at least partially, for my pathetic dating life!) but i think that maybe Mystery is right, and they just need to learn the Approach. this concept is not only influencing men, you see. it's definitely made me look at my behavior and how i react to men. i honestly think i will be a LOT nicer to guys who approach me now.

that being said, i'm actually going to go buy The Game, by Neil Strauss, right now!

Coco said...

I'm totally suckered into this retarded show too. I can't help myself. But, I am about to pee my pants over your "fastest route to herpes" comment. Classic!

Anonymous said...

I am by no means in the same category as Mystery, but I think there is one simple rule in picking up a woman either for a hook-up or as a potential long-term girlfriend. That rule is "Cater to the Customer." The conversation needs to be about her and topics that interest her. Not in a cheesy "What's your sign" or "Baby, your daddy must have been a thief because he stole the stars from the heavens and put them in your eyes" kind of way. The conversation should be about what SHE is doing in life, what SHE likes, what HER interests and opinions are. Humor also goes hand in hand with this. Guys screw up by talking about themselves. Women don't want to hear about us. They are going to change us anyway . . . or so they think. What difference does it make what we think? If you are funny and direct the conversation towards her, you have at least 6 of her 7 digits.

RWA said...

I don't think this "PUA" philosophy works - except for television and these guys who are so desperate.

mysterygirl! said...

Thank you, VB-- I am obsessed with this show. I want so badly for all of these guys to do better with women, and I hope that they learn something (I wish they weren't getting eliminated one by one). I find the 3 PUAs very likeable so far, because they are offering insightful commentary and are also nice to the dorks. That doesn't mean I'm attracted to any of them, but I'd rather talk to them at a bar than the dorks. :)

If he's really teaching them how to build a new life and get a girlfriend, then I support it. If being a PUA is about manipulating and scoring with a ton of women, then I think it's slimy. I guess it's one of those tools that can be used for good or evil. :) I'm used to thinking about it as a tool for evil, but hopefully I'm wrong.

Kraig said...

A lot of people doubt the PUA thing works. I haven't gone through it, but I've read a lot about it, and seen some self professed pick up artists.

This isn't just a method to "get a girl in the sack". PUA's pick a girl and approach her, whether she is in a group or not. This takes a truck load of confidence, and most guys have serious issues with that. If this stuff teaches you confidence, how will that not work.

The entire PUA thing can be summed up into two parts. 1st, social ability, 2nd manipulation. The first thing you need is a solid foundation of confidence and social skills, which any girl will admit is a huge factor to determine if they will pay attention to a guy. Most guys, including myself, could always use a few lessons in this, even if we aren't that bad at it in the first place.

The 2nd part is manipulation. How to use the confidence and social skills to reach the end that you want. When people look at PUA's, thats what they see, but that isn't all of them, or even the biggest part.

Meeting someone and getting them to like you, is a some cynical level, very similar to a sales transaction. Girls dress up and make themselves look good when they go out. Is that so much different from packing a product to appeal to your customer base? Its a cynical outlook, but when it comes to that first impression, you want to make one that appeals to that person.

Peacocking is incredibly common, but generally its more of a behavioral thing. How many guys do stupid things to try and impress girls. Is that so much different from wearing a pair of binoculars or goggles to make them pay attention to you?

Ok, my comments are getting longer and longer. Soon I'm just going to have to blog responses or something so I don't fill up your comment space :)

Virginia Belle said...

coco -- thanks! yeah, that was what i was thinking as i watched it....

lowtide -- yes, in general, i think you are correct. but there is something to be said for a confident approach, in addition to being interested in her AND being funny. and if you make things TOO much about her, you risk the possibility of coming off like Doormat Guy. this method gives her a lot of power. some guys are ok with this, and some girls like having power. but a lot of girls i know will only lose respect for a guy who fawns all over them. also, by being so obvious, you instantly put pressure on her to decide if she likes you or not. girls don't like being pressured into deciding right away. we can run. and we DO want to learn about you. lots of things! so we are going to want to ask lots of questions. i say, save all the "please tell me all about YOU" for the first date. THAT is the time to really strive and get to know the girl.

rwa -- really? i have to confess, as a single woman, these PUAs would probably have me eating out of their hands. not necessarily doling out my numbers (seriously, i cannot STAND how they dress!!!) left and right, but i would love to talk to them.

mystery girl -- yes, me too! i am a total couch cheerleader on this show!! i know they can do it!!! i hate that they get eliminated, but i know that's because it's a reality competition show. nature of the beast. and yes, the PUAs are insightful and helpful. and i too like that they are SUPER nice to the dorks. it makes me like them as people. and yes, like you, i'd MUCH rather talk to them than the dorks, even though to be honest, i doubt i'd want to date anyone on the show! LOL but would i party with the PUAs? yeah, probably. like you, i'm hoping most PUAs in training are using their skills for good. it sounds like we share the SAME opinions on this show! :)

kraig -- TRUST ME, if any girl knows guys lack confidence in approaching women, it's me! LOL this is the main reason why (so far) i am a big fan of this method. i wish every guy was super confident about approaching women. and i am appreciating all the reassurance from the male commenters that most guys are NOT out to add notches to their bedposts. it's a big relief. i hope it's true. and i'm not going to knock PUAs for being a teensy bit manipulative. girls wear push-up bras and high heels. how is a guy throwing a rehearsed pickup line any different??? i think we all manipulate in mild degrees in some aspect of our lives. look at people in sales. they are pretty much using the same social skills as a PUA, just with a different goal in mind.

please feel free to leave long comments, kraig! i enjoy them.

Dixie said...

I'm soooo glad I'm not the only one with the hots for Conan. I love him!

Thomas said...

Ginny, realize this show does not present a complete picture of the seduction community. To me, the community is about teaching men how to present themselves in a way that is attractive to women. Once they learn these skills, it's up to the individual. Many guys make pickup the center of their life and become "social robots". Others either use the material to fill a void in what is otherwise a great life, or use this to inspire them to improve their life in all areas. The community seems to be moving towards this "lifestyle" approach, meaning leading a life you truly enjoy will make you a more attractive person.

However even if you have all that, you still might not know how to approach women. The basic concepts are pretty straightforward... start conversation in a nonthreatening way, get her attracted to you before you show interest in her, show her you're genuinely interested, build comfort and rapport (and escalate physically), have sex. Attacks to seduction always seem to focus on routines and tactics (negs, peacocking, etc.), which are just suggested ways of achieving these goals. The sequence is the most important part by far, however, and it's hard to find fault in that.