The Complete History of Pick-Up Artists (PUA’s) in America

[Note: Since the publication of my newest book, Civilianized, many of you have sent emails asking for this blog post, so here it is.]

373476050_735d4ba187_zIt’s no big secret that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently, but that clearly hasn’t deterred many a man from trying to understand certain key processes of a woman’s mind, specifically the parts of it that will enable him to get into her good graces (and other things besides).

For centuries, the art of seduction was a mystery to most men. While it was initially assumed that women would favor the best-looking, the most dominant, and the wealthiest among the opposite gender, history tells that this is not always the case. Many of the most successful seductions throughout history were conducted not by alpha males, but by seemingly shy and perhaps even unconventional-looking men. Casanova, (whose name is forever immortalized in the dictionary as a term for “a man who has many conquests or lovers”), for instance, used a variety of mental and psychological seduction techniques rather than make use of any overt quality to win over his quarries.

This sort of strategy would serve as the basis for many pick-up artist techniques, but their ilk would not surface until a few centuries later. Shortly before the late 20th century, most Americans faced extremes when looking about for advice on dating and relationships. On the one hand, there was Dear Abby. This advice column was a beloved institution dishing out wholesome advice on common dating dilemmas. While it was considered to be a “safe” option, the Dear Abby advice column was primarily written for women (which was hardly surprising as a woman was also behind the column).

On the other end of the spectrum were the more informal sources of counsel. These generally involved a wide range of sources from what was usually referred to as “locker room talk,” where adolescent boys with raging hormones dished out stories about conquests (be they actual or imagined) and advice on how to achieve the same, to one-on-one sessions with a much older mentor who had been around the block once or twice. Young men, at least those who were in America, clearly needed a happy medium.

The pick-up artist industry, as people know it today, was said to have originated back in 1970, when Eric Weber’s “How to Pick Up Girls” was published. This tome was initially endorsed by a prevailing racy adult magazine, which derived some of its articles from material found in the said book. Up until this point, the only acceptable dating topics discussed in modern publications were innocent questions that involved how long a gentleman should wait before he could kiss his date on the cheek after bringing her home. Weber’s book was the first widely published work that unabashedly dished out tips for red-blooded males in search of little more than a roll in the sack with an attractive female.

In true 1970s style, Weber advised the wearing of bell bottoms and even participating in peace marches with the primary objective of seducing hot, young female hippies all in the name of “free love.” “How to Pick Up Girls” would later go on to inspire the flourishing of the pick-up artist movement underground throughout the rest of the decade.

The movement slowed down upon the onset of the 1980s, as some unsavory consequences of events in the past decade set in. The conservative Ronald Reagan was elected into the White House and rock ‘n’ roll was all but verboten in many households with concerned parents in charge. The “Free Love” movement of the 70s, (which encouraged unrestricted and indiscriminate sexual activity), along with the influence of the freewheeling and reckless lifestyles of the era’s rock stars, led to sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS and HIV being more widespread along the population.

For most of the 1980s, the looming threat of AIDS put many people off pick-up artistry and dating advice again favored safer practices. Ironically, however, the seduction experts would form an organized community for the first time by the end of this decade.

It all began with an American author named Ross Jeffries. As a self-described “speed seduction expert,” Jeffries relied heavily on neuro-linguistic programming to attract and seduce women. His technique was akin to hypnosis, wherein a man would help a woman access a positive mind state or mood. The goal was for the target to later associate such pleasurable emotions with the seducer. Following typical neuro-linguistic programming principles, Jeffries was also renowned for his way with words as he could craft them into phrases that were calculated to instigate the aura of sexual desire in a person.

While Jeffries’ approach was considered to be controversial, he is often credited as the “father” or founder of the modern seduction community. Jeffries would later parlay his 15 minutes of fame by offering seduction seminars and other related products to his fellow men, most of who were confused about whether women wanted the old-fashioned, tough, macho man or the feminism-approved sensitive guy of the New Age. His gamble was a success, and he later published a book called “How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed.” Apart from being the first man to build a business model around pick-up artistry, Jeffries would also gain fame and notoriety as the real-life basis for Tom Cruise’s disillusioned pick-up artist character in the movie “Magnolia.”

Those who found Jeffries’ method to be a little too ruthless (his primary focus was always on bedding a woman) opted for the somewhat diluted technique of David DeAngelo. DeAngelo’s “Double Your Dating” seminars and DVD sets catered to clueless, “nice” young men who were wondering why their female peers preferred their cocky counterparts. He favored adopting a cocky and funny personality in favor of a fawning one when it came to hitting on attractive women.

One of DeAngelo’s most renowned contributions to the pick-up artist’s bag of tricks was called “negging.” This involved giving a back-handed compliment to a sought-after lady to get her attention. An example of negging often included telling an undeniably beautiful girl that she was “as cute as my obnoxious little sister.” While this approach did pique the attention of certain women who were used to getting their way with most men (and thus viewed those who didn’t fall at their feet as an attractive challenge), it garnered quite a bit of negative press for its inventor. Too often, inexperienced novices who were fresh off DeAngelo’s seminars would “neg” women who were less attractive and insecure, making them feel upset rather than intrigued. Some neophytes botched the technique further by spewing outright insults at their targets rather than tweaking their compliments to generate a bit of insecurity to make the quarry a lot more approachable.

Still, DeAngelo proved that there’s really no such thing as bad press when he successfully marketed his seduction seminars and DVDs and built a thriving business empire off the proceeds. And, more importantly for the pick-up artist community, the road blazed by Jeffries and DeAngelo gave rise to numerous Internet message boards where young men discussed and exchanged ideas about dating, specifically about landing and pleasing a woman in bed.

Out of this veritable pool of pick-up artistry talent emerged one of the most flamboyant pick-up artists. Born Eric von Markovic, the young Canadian pick-up artist known by his alias “Mystery” would make waves by patterning his image contrary to the stereotypical pick-up artist’s. Rather than dressing up in the sleek dark suits or the preppy chinos and polo shirt combo of the typical pick-up artist, Mystery walked the streets in top hats, platform boots, and even outrageous feather boas. This practice, known as “peacocking,” relied greatly on shock value and on catching the eye of any female (or anyone for that matter) passing by. He would further engage his target by performing various sorts of magic tricks to the delight of many young women.

The much talked-about “three-second rule” is also credited to Mystery. This is all about being spontaneous and confident as it means walking up and talking to the first group of people you see or the first woman that catches your eye within three seconds of entering a room. The logic behind this approach is that women can sense if you had to work up the courage to move toward them, and this often lowers their perception of you. If, on the other hand, you simply followed the three-second rule, there would be no room for hesitation and you would breeze into the interaction with more confidence, which your target would thus appreciate more.

The year 2005 marked the entry of pick-up artists into mainstream consciousness. This sort of movement had been brewing for a while, what with the online seduction community (by now known simply as “The Community”) growing steadily over the past decade. The Community had given rise to a great number of pick-up gurus, who favored varying methods of picking up women.

It was the author Neil Strauss who exposed the techniques of Mystery and his cadre (along with their real-life experiences on the street). His book, “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” illustrated the previously well-guarded secrets of the underground seduction community. It even provided a narrative on Strauss’ two years of practicing such techniques on the crème de la crème of L.A.’s female population.

With such an illustrious track record, Strauss had no difficulty persuading his clientele that even the most awkward geeky male specimen could turn into a polished pick-up artist once he was exposed to the right guidance. Thanks to his new street credentials, Strauss was able to put up the Stylelife Academy, where he continues to educate aspiring pick-up artists on the tricks of the trade.

Today, the pick-up artist community is widely shrouded in controversy. Lots of women consider their practices to be sexist and unnecessarily aggressive. However, there have been some movements that have taken a leaf out of the pick-up artist playbook but modified it to make their “strategies” more chivalrous or considerate. Clearly, there will always be a need for such “guidance” so long as the comprehension gap between male and female brains remains significant.

Picture: Flickr/Pazzia

Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return home from war and how he turned to the Pick-Up Artist Community to help defeat his PTSD.

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter


Why The Pick-Up Artist Community Could Be Good For Veterans With PTSD

[Note: With the publication of my newest book, Civilianized, which includes stories of veterans with PTSD, and Pick-up Artists, I thought the following post might be appropriate.]

Pick-Up Artists AND Veterans?

What’s the deal?

The chaotic and disturbing ordeal that US military veterans went through during the recent wars has left a sizeable portion of them in a harrowing state of trauma and shock. Although some of them manage to live a better life after their experiences, about fifteen percent of veterans are still trapped in another war zone — a continuous struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, leaving them stuck in the ugly past and pessimistic of the promising future.

There are many organizations and volunteers who are determined to help US veterans move on from the horrors of War — from counsellors, to writers, and even performance artists. Among these groups, several people believe that the Pick-Up Artist Community, also known as Seduction Community, might be the breakthrough approach that can truly relieve US veterans. How can the modern and liberated nature of this relatively new concept, along with the numerous criticisms and objections thrown at it, aid in the veterans’ battle against PTSD?

PTSD and US Military Veterans

By definition, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a mental condition that a person may develop after he is exposed to one or more traumatic events. However, not everyone who is exposed to a traumatizing situation will develop PTSD as doctors and psychologists have a set of symptoms or “guidelines” that a person must display first before he can be considered as a PTSD case. Generally, PTSD is divided into four classifications — unwanted memories, escapism, hyperarousal symptoms, and pessimism and apathy.

It was after the Vietnam War when the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” was coined. US Military veterans showed different signs of negative behavior, all of which were triggered by the daunting situations they had to face during the war. Up until now, many years after the war, US veterans are still haunted by their horrendous past and they are still greatly affected with PTSD.

Although this mental condition is somewhat difficult to identify and quantify, one thing that’s certain about PTSD is that it changes a person’s overall personality and behavior — the exact situation that US veterans are dealing with right now. Most of them still get distressed and anxious even with the slightest recall of the tragic war; thus they opt to completely avoid anything that would remind them of it. They are consumed by their fear of talking about the past so they tend to be antisocial, aloof, and nonchalant. Aside from expressing their suppressed emotions, a simple and plain conversation and communication becomes a huge challenge for veterans.

The Pick-Up Artist Community and The Game of Seduction Science

The Pick-Up Artist (PUA) Community is a modern male movement dedicated to learning the complex art and science of seducing women, known in the group as The Game (the term also comes from the popular PUA book: The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists). Depending on a PUA’s personal intentions, a sarge (PUA slang for a successful connection between a man and a woman) may either be a simple conversation, an exchange of phone numbers, or a one-night stand. Putting it in a lighter perspective then, it can be said that the main goal of the PUA Community is to develop and encourage a man’s confidence in approaching and communicating with women.

Followers of this concept believe that the innate global gender culture where men chase women is something that is hard to change. The increasing equality and empowerment of the modern woman, however, makes it more difficult for men to fulfill their gender roles. In order to keep up with the times, the Community develops techniques and strategies, collectively called as “studied charisma,” that men can use when attempting to strike a conversation with a woman. Members of the Community learn and practice these techniques by attending forums, sessions, and small group talks.

Although traces of this liberated concept date back to the 70s, it was only in the mid-2000s when the PUA Community reached mainstream awareness. Despite numerous critics claiming that The Game is offensive, misogynistic, and sexist, the Community was still able to establish a solid, although discreet, follower base. Today the Community exists in various channels such as the Internet, blogs, secret groups, and hundreds of underground local clubs (called in PUA slang as lairs).

How Seduction Science Can Save PTSD-Diagnosed Veterans

Establishing a decent conversation and maintaining an open line of communication are two of the greatest challenges of veterans with PTSD, and this is considerably the biggest barrier between veterans and the support groups and volunteers. This is where the concepts and applications of The Game can definitely come into play. By teaching veterans different fool-proof ways of initiating a conversation with another person (not necessarily a woman, and not necessarily for hook-up purposes) without feeling scared, worried, or threatened, the PUA Community can help the veterans regain their self-confidence and make them comfortable with talking to others again. Once this is achieved, it will be a lot easier for support groups and volunteers to introduce other psychotherapy procedures, ensuring continuous improvement on the condition of the veterans and, hopefully, completely eliminating PTSD.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among US veterans is a serious matter, and everyone must cooperate in finding effective and efficient ways to solve this concern. By applying a few tweaks but still sticking to its core idea, the Pick-Up Artist Community could be the key towards winning this tedious battle against PTSD.

The Sales Pitch

If you’re interesting in a book about an Iraq veteran who tries to cure his PTSD by becoming a PUA then pick up a copy of my newest book: Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir. Available at your local bookseller and all your online book retailers.


Why U.S. Veterans Are Returning From The Wars And Flocking To The Pick Up Artist Community

The term Pick Up Artist or PUA community may sound ordinary and uninteresting to many people; thus, you may wonder why U.S. war veterans are flocking to these groups or sites. What makes this group different from others, and what does it have to offer for U.S. veterans in particular?

What is the PUA community?

The Pick Up Artist community is a seduction society that was established by men, whose main objective was to learn how to successfully seduce or attract women, and create sexual encounters or relationships with them.

Why would veterans returning from war go to the PUA Community?

As expected, soldiers who have been deployed to war zones may spend some eight to 18 months in the field. This separation from their normal day-to-day routine in a peaceful home and community has surely affected their ability to relate with others, especially with the opposite sex. Therefore, the major reason why U.S. veterans go to PUA communities is to be aided in their emotional and psychological expression.

Coping with relationship with their spouses. Lack of physical, emotional, and social communication with their wives or partners could make these former soldiers feel inadequate. They need coaching as to how to win their partners back. The PUA community’s role is to teach them the techniques to be in control of their emotions and restore their self-confidence in relating to their spouses or sexual partners.

Search for sexual relief and lasting relationships. A number of those men who go to war are in their late teens or have just finished high school and may not have experienced a serious relationship with women prior to their deployment. Like the married guys, they also lack the self-confidence to attract or start a relationship with women. Some may even have no knowledge in relating with the opposite sex at all. Going to the PUA community can boost their male prowess and teach them how to make the first move and win girls.

Be in touch with reality and be back to some kind of “normal” status. A community that shares and understands their struggles and needs will surely benefit war veterans. Once they know that they are not alone, they begin to learn to trust again and let go of inhibitions that were developed during their overseas assignment.

What are the techniques taught by the PUA community?

The techniques that Pick Up Artists suggest are based on psychologically proven steps in winning the opposite sex, namely: attraction; comfort and trust; and seduction and sex.

  • Building attraction. Men are mentored as to how to appear and behave appealingly, to be sure of themselves, to start interesting conversations, and other related tips.
  • Increasing comfort and trust. The next step is to establish rapport. Making the other person feel comfortable in your presence would eventually lead them to trust you. This way, one can have successive encounters that may lead to a more intimate relationship.
  • Improving seduction and sex techniques and strategies. The veterans are taught or reminded about tips for successful sexual encounters, such as: how to be a good kisser; how to use touch effectively; how to motivate each other for sex; as well as topics for conversation and other related matters.


 Reports show that the PUA communities have been met with opposition by feminists because they are reputed to be misogynists. Men are conditioned to believe that women are more challenged when they are treated or spoken to negatively, and that women are willing to be manipulated by men at a certain stimulus. However negative PUAs may be considered, they have filled a gap in the veterans’ lives that no other community can provide or has provided so far.

It is the concept of a community wherein they are understood and can freely express their inadequacy, learn from the PUA’s and from their peers, realize that they can be successful in seduction and sex, and to some extent, be brought back to reality and normal life with some help from pick up artists, that makes this group effective and attractive to many U.S. veterans.


Now, having said that, there are definitely a lot of weirdo’s in the PUA “scene,” and if a veteran gets in with the wrong crowd, things can definitely head down a dark and narrow path. Message me if you’re interested in some of the organizations that I would and would not recommend!

The Sales Pitch

In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return home from war and how he turned to the Pick-Up Artist Community to help defeat his PTSD.

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell