Surviving The Game
The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss. ReganBooks 2005
“Life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon” – Ice Cube
“Once you start having sex and chasing women, you will never be able to stop…” – Chester M. Cole
A beautiful woman’s desire is something coveted by many men, specifically the men who were never able to acquire it. The ability to walk into a room, choose the most attractive one there, and make her yours has been the desire of most – and has been realized by only the most moneyed, the most famous, the most attractive, or the most confident men. For years Neil Strauss - a New York Times bestselling author, writer for Rolling Stone, and general scribe of rock and roll – has been one of those guys standing on the sidelines, dreaming he had any of those “most” qualities to get the girl. While you may be impressed by his credentials – the fact remains that even with a resume that a teenybopper coed accepts as cool, low self-esteem and inexperience with women doomed him to being what the pickup artist (PUA) community describes as an average frustrated chump (AFC).
However, when Mr. Strauss was asked to edit an online document called the How to Lay Girls Guide, all that would change. In this guide he learned that there were thousands of men just like him, guys who weren’t the cool guys in high school, never went “all the way” in college, and were lucky to have the occasional girlfriend - much less a regular sex life. The difference is that these guys studied the cool guy in high school, the big man on campus, and the alpha males of their world – and broke down to a near science how these guys attracted the best women and the most women. And this new science, pickup, was teachable. After editing this guide, Mr. Strauss took the most humbling step towards realizing his dream by taking a class with the best of the pickup artists – which became the start of a dizzying journey of two years around the world filled with gorgeous women who slowly but surely bent to his will.
The first thing the reader will notice about this book is that it looks and feels like a Bible. It has a black leather cover, gold lettering, with gold paint on the book edges and even a Bible-style silk bookmark pasted into the binding. Were it not for the naked women in heels silhouetted in gold on the front cover and the binding – the casual observer would assume you were reading a Bible as you held it in your hands. Blasphemy and sacrilege aside, Mr. Strauss seems to want to convey how significant the discovery of the world of PUAs was to his life. While most Christians would disagree out loud, this book takes pains to show that learning to pick up women was as much a life changing experience for the PUAs as conversion or baptism.
The fact that the art of seduction - once the province of the rich or the poetic - could be analyzed, discussed, field tested, scripted, approved and then circulated all over the world with a high probability of success seems ludicrous at best, frightening at worse. Mr. Strauss, writing in the first person as only one of a cast of strong players in The Game, also expresses skepticism – until chapter after chapter you see him applying odd concepts that bring him greater and greater degrees of success. Concepts like giving negs or backhanded compliments to a desired girl or target in order to entertain her friends seems counterproductive, yet Mr. Strauss is as surprised as the reader when he watches as the tactic both builds the interest of the girl in the PUA while placating her normally overprotective friends. While many tactics, especially those in the Mystery Method, are based on the back engineering of successful alpha males; others are based on concepts from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a branch of psychology that deals with simultaneously communicating to the conscious and subconscious, and varying forms of hypnosis. Even though Mr. Strauss, or Style as he is known in the PUA community, perfected a technique that allows men to have consistent threesomes with two women (provided he can get two women into his bedroom) that was field tested worldwide – he contends that many of these concepts make up a “dark art” and should be handled with care.
Sometimes, picking up women can change a guy for the worse, even when he is successful. While most of the websites and reports that are referenced in The Game treat seduction as an ultimate good, Mr. Strauss weaves the “lay reports” in with the stories of personal tragedy experienced by Mystery, the growing soullessness of Tyler Durden, and the exploitation of Papa – not to mention the hundreds of girls affected in the story. Mr. Strauss even includes a chapter detailing 26 women that Style full closed or slept with after attaining the rank of Master Pickup Artist (mPUA).
Mystery, Style’s initial guru in the story, developed his methods and theories on seduction both as a remedy for his inability to attract women directly and also as a way to relate to his emotionally distant father. While he became wildly successful at wooing women using techniques that are both intuitive and logical (“Let’s go someplace less crowded” becomes “Instant Date” in Mystery Method), at the same time he becomes subject to his own thirsty ego – cheating on doting girlfriends and then tearfully scorning them when they have had enough, and turning violent and suicidal when things don’t go his way. While his attention-drunken self-esteem masked itself as confidence during the pickup, his true self was revealed when he could no longer control those around him with routines and practiced lines.
Tyler Durden was a character in the story who realized the true power of the PUAs under whom he apprenticed. A nerdy kid who was too manipulative to even soothe the easy going Style, with the proper training Tyler Durden was able to convince a girl working behind the counter at an ice cream shop to take him to the back room (ostensibly for sex) within two minutes of meeting her. Shrewdly, Tyler Durden realized that if women could be manipulated so easily into spreading their legs, then with the right techniques either sex could be manipulated into anything – including giving him money and power.
Papa was a straight A student who came from money and expected to go to a top law school, but spending too much time on studying pickup theory relegated him to going to a mid-tier business school. While his academic career was derailed by pickup, he masters skills powerful enough to gain Paris Hilton’s cell phone number (without going online). Pursuing women became an obsession for these men, and like any obsession – it alienated them from friends and family, and caused them to lose focus on what was really important in their lives. In return however, they gained the respect that goes along with being able to pull women – respect that has no price.
But even with the stories of tragedy and emotional erosion, Mr. Strauss stands firm behind the game as something positive for guys who are simply following the natural urge to breed. In two years a writer named Neil turned himself into a player named Style, a man who knew nothing about consistently attracting the opposite sex, but had an ability to analyze and empathize with the women he so desperately desired. Within months he was teaching the courses he still barely understood, and within a year he created techniques that college age guys copied word for word in bars and clubs across the world. (Ladies, when a guy walks up to you and asks you to solve a dilemma involving a jealous girlfriend, you are talking with a Style protégé.) In “The Game” you will read rich stories such as one involving a beautiful Latina who cannot stay away, even after he gave her the verbal pimp slap of, “Why didn’t you call before you stopped by?” You will even read with wonder as Style out-pimps Heidi Fleiss in an impromptu competition, and finally finds love with a member of Courtney Love’s band. While his now exclusive girlfriend insists she loves him for who he is minus his PUA ability – Mr. Strauss claims his two year journey helped him to meet his true self, accept him, and prepared him to present him to the best woman possible. In interviews Mr. Strauss shyly avoids the direct topic of “how to bang lots of girls” and focuses on the love story in the last chapters. However, "The Game" – while a moving story of a group of men growing and maturing as they chase a somewhat worthy goal – is still by nature a log of sexcapades. If there is one truth in Mr. Strauss’ work that is worthy of a Biblical presentation, it is that the true nature of the game is to better yourself and be the best you can be, to attract the best mate for you – not just chase tail.