All Work and Some Play

At 37, Brandon was smart, good-looking and well-off. He'd enjoyed hookups and had girlfriends, but he'd always felt like the women had chosen him. He was tired of waiting for things to happen to him; he wanted to make them happen himself.

So the Boulder property manager started studying. His first lesson in the seductive arts was Double Your Dating, an e-book by David DeAngelo, a pick-up master who taught men to be "cocky and funny." "I read the book over and over again," Brandon says. "It started to make sense for me, but I couldn't get over my fear of approaching women. I needed someone to force me to do it. I couldn't make myself do it."

He watched a video series in which DeAngelo interviews other dating gurus, including Tyler Durden, a man whose pseudonym was inspired by Fight Club. Durden's company, Real Social Dynamics, hosts pick-up training workshops, and Brandon decided to fork over the $1,500 registration fee and fly to Los Angeles for a weekend of pick-up work.

One Friday afternoon in February, he met his instructors and two fellow students in a hotel lobby. The group went to a coffee shop and talked for two or three hours about techniques for approaching and attracting women. Then they walked to a club across the street, where the instructors began approaching women, showing their charges how it was done. "Then they started pushing us," Brandon remembers. "'See those two girls? Go talk to them.'" No sooner would Brandon follow one assignment than the instructors would pull him off it and send him off on another mission, not giving him time to think about the rejections he'd been handed or what he was doing wrong. The instructors took notes on their palm pilots throughout the exercise, and after a few hours, everyone returned to the coffee shop for a debriefing. Then they headed back out for more.

"The first night was horrible," Brandon says. "It was just so uncomfortable. But by the end, I knew I could go and talk to girls and make a fool of myself and I'm not going to die. Halfway through the second night, it started to click for me. By the end of the third night, after approaching sixty women in three days, I didn't really care anymore."

The weekend was exactly what he needed. Only later, after he read The Game, did he realize that Real Social Dynamics was just one of several companies selling in-field pick-up experiences. And they'd all followed the lead of Mystery, the mentor described in Neil Strauss's bestseller, who'd started offering workshops a half-dozen years ago.

"It came out of his head. He was an original," says Nick, aka Savoy, president and CEO of Mystery Method. The company was created early in 2005, to formalize what Mystery had been doing for years. Back when Strauss spent a weekend training with the master, the workshop cost $500; now a workshop with Mystery can run as high as $3,750.

Today, nearly all of the pick-up artists mentioned in The Game -- including Mystery (www.themysterymethod.com), David DeAngelo (www.fastseduction.com), Tyler Durden and Papa (www.realsocialdynamics.com), Badboy (www.badboylifestyle.com) and Juggler (www.charismaarts.com) -- have their own businesses that advertise in-field workshops on their websites, and other seduction trainers are emerging all the time. "To some extent it's good, because you always like to have new ideas and new takes on things," Savoy says. "Some of the new people that are offering this stand by what they do and are reputable and giving good information and good training -- and some don't."

Savoy warns men against signing on for workshops that don't offer money-back guarantees, and also suggests they check out actual reviews, not just testimonials. "I wouldn't learn from anybody who wasn't able to show me that it works," he says. "We take guys out, and every night of every program, we put our reputation on the line because we interact with whatever women we happen to find."

Thanks to his workshop experience and the Denver Pick Up Artists Lair, Brandon's now going out to the clubs, making things happen. "I don't aspire to be a pick-up artist, necessarily," he says. "I don't expect to meet my next girlfriend in a bar. It's really like practice, so when I do meet that girl, I'll have the confidence and skills and not be scared of her." -- Centers

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Jessica Centers