When Maeve Spanning’s housemate shared the details of a date that left her confused and depressed, they smelled a rat. This particular rat is a professional Pick Up Artist with a legion of paying followers…
If you have read Neil Strauss’s The Game, then you will already know quite a bit about the Pick Up Artist (PUA) lifestyle. If you haven’t, then you’ll just have to Google it because I don’t have the word count to do it justice here. And Google you should. Not only because it’s creepy as shit, but because YOU NEED TO BE INFORMED. That way, if some day you end up in the same situation as my flatmate did, then maybe you will be able to spot the warning signs. Before it’s too late.
Poor Helen* didn’t suspect a thing. A brief chat on a Prague side-street with a laid-back and friendly passerby turned into a date with one of the world’s foremost professional pickup artists, Shane McLame**.
Ignorant of his true identity, she got home afterwards, depressed and pissed off, and told us the details. And the more she described, the more the Pick Up Artist alarm bells began to ring in my head. He’d chosen the place and time, saying he had to be back at work by 11pm. Setting a time constraint is a key PUA strategy, as it helps cut to the chase fast. They had a quick drink, then a short walk, then went to his boss’s apartment to see its ‘stunning view’. Changing venue apparently gives the subconscious impression of having been on multiple dates, so it means sex is on the table more quickly. Girls, eh? We are so easily confused.
He kept himself busy, staring deep into her eyes and finding flimsy excuses for touching – “Are your hands cold?” – or just freely groping her. He used “negs” periodically (subtle insults designed to lower her self esteem and defences: ‘Do you always ask this many questions?’) and crowbarred sexual topics into the conversation at every turn. Then finally, the piece de resistance: After she rejected his increasingly insistent advances and flat-out told him that she wasn’t going to sleep with him, he suggested she find someone who would: “Give your friends my number; I’m here for a few more days.” Who else but a man with the massive, unmanageable, quivering ego of a PUA would say such a thing?
All she knew was his first name, so we googled that, Prague and PUA. At once, there he was. Not just a devotee, he is a full-time, professional pick-up artist, earning thousands of euro a pop to train others in the sacred skills, working in-field with the beautiful women of Central and Eastern Europe.
We spent the next few minutes browsing. Shane McLame has a well-maintained online presence. On YouTube you can enjoy instructional videos where he approaches and scores with unsuspecting members of the public in a matter of minutes. What a legend, right? Well, unless you’re the girl who doesn’t know that you are being secretly filmed at the time. Or that you’re embarrassing judgement-lapse will end up on YouTube, for the edification of 170,000 of his sticky-palmed fans. Or that you should probably pop into the nearest STI clinic for a thorough swabbing on your way home.
There’s also a blog that details his sexy conquests, peppered with sage insights from the man himself. Here are just a few creepy highlights:
On mutual respect and understanding:
“This was a pattern throughout the night. She would mumble something that sounded like resistance but then as soon as I would escalate, she wouldn’t resist.”
On that warm post-coital glow:
“Feels pretty good to deal with her calling me a jerk while sobbing with mascara streaming down her face […] and turning it around to the point where she is now open to the potential reality of us having casual sex.
On ‘no means no’:
“I was able to discern her token fantasy resistance from real resistance.”
What a champ. Anyway, long story short, I asked for his number. I know what you’re thinking, and I was a little concerned that I too might succumb to his powerful brand of sexual warfare, but I just had to see for myself. I texted. Three minutes later we had a date.
We met the next evening, and it was fun – initially. The conversation flowed, he was full of little compliments and jokes, making physical contact at every opportunity and inching inexorably closer and closer in his chair. There were even fleeting moments where, despite already knowing and disliking everything at the core of him, the thought “wow, he really is a great guy,” flickered through my feeble human brain.
After about half an hour of small talk about his vague career I couldn’t wait any longer, and I finally asked outright about The Game. This soured the mood immediately but he admitted to it. He helps men to develop self-confidence, in his own words. And what about the women whose self-confidence he devastates along the way, collecting them like high-fives to boost his ego and stats? This is why he doesn’t like to talk about it; ‘women judge him for it’.
The conversation began to falter then, but ever the trooper, he suggested we go for a walk. “A change of venue?” I said. He didn’t like that. We paid for our beers (separately of course) and left the bar. The entrance to his hotel was less than a minute away. “So do you want to come up or not?” He asked, a tinge of last-resort in his voice.
We walked on in deepening silence, back towards the centre of town. At last he blurted out, accusingly and without a hint of irony: “Don’t you think you were a bit dishonest? Like, your text message really gave me the impression that you were going to sleep with me.” I suppose we all give people the wrong idea at one time or another.
On reaching the tram stop, he departed, sullenly, without words. It reminded me of a little boy in a bad temper. Oh, and he didn’t call the next day. But I suppose I should have expected that, from a pick-up artist
**name slightly rearranged, for legal reasons.