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If you talked to me then about it, I would have defended the techniques as a way to learn courtship. I thought I was a nice guy, I really did, you know? And then there was a moment where I told her the story of my childhood. A lot of it is asking questions and treating people like they’re interesting.If you ask me today about it, I’d tell you that anything that involves manipulation or needing to have a certain outcome is definitely not healthy in any way. And I thought, how can I break the heart of, how could I hurt somebody who loves me and be so selfish? And she said, “Well no wonder you can’t be in a relationship.” And I said, “Why? And you have this realization where you’re like, no wait, that’s my personality.
Like surely there are female-specific tricks to, in effect, manipulate people into sleeping with you. Because obviously if you’re trying to get something from someone—it doesn’t even have to be an outcome like sex, it could be self-esteem—when you talk to somebody who’s needy, where they’re just being funny and entertaining but they just need a response to feel better about themselves—Gilsinan: I don’t identify with that at all ... It becomes like hits of crack, whether it’s laughter or sex or admiration or fame or money, all those things—I can speak to the sex part—don’t end up making you any more happy than you were without them.But now coming out of the other side of it, I can see how there were maybe unconscious forces operating on me that made me so obsessed, and even when I thought “the game” was over, that it still had this hold on me. It’s more controversial now than when it came out, and I think that’s a good thing for society. Gilsinan: I’m reading this book 10 years ago as a female person.Gilsinan: It’s amazing to think of such a book coming out now and what the reaction to it might have been. Gilsinan: A lot of the criticism was, well, men are afraid of women’s sexuality, and the response to that is, yeah, obviously. To me at least, that’s entirely why this pickup community exists. To me, the biggest shock of my life, was how, myself who wrote , Tucker Max, who, well, is Tucker Max—what do we all have in common? It did have the sort of hopeful implication, that everyone’s afraid to talk to attractive people and just to strangers more generally, but you can follow this set of rules and you’re basically guaranteed to get laid.(Sample: Do not make a move until you get three IOIs, or Indicators of Interest, such as a slight touch on the arm.) Indeed, the neg itself could be seen as a way to address the problem that sometimes the best way to get a gal’s attention is to ignore her. Kathy Gilsinan: It’s hilarious that this interview got postponed a couple of times. Gilsinan: It’s interesting you say almost regretfully that it became the Bible, because it was marketed that way, right?If she doesn’t notice you’re ignoring her, then you’re both just standing there not talking to each other. I have a copy that’s on my desk that has [gilt edges], it has a red-ribbon bookmark. It was designed by my publisher at the time like a Bible. Gilsinan: But it’s interesting too, given the way the book ends, with you meeting this woman who is not impressed by any of this stuff, and then you end up with her.I guess people use books like the Bible and other religious texts as excuses to murder other people, but I don’t think those books make them do that. Gilsinan: And then there’s other small stuff, like one guy whose signature move is to bring women home to look at his Win Amp media player with him. These are problems that people are still trying to solve.
is really that I was in this culture and I was reporting what I saw, whether it was good or bad.
Gilsinan: Do you think that kind of thing is because of ? It’s like looking at the photograph of yourself like in high school when you’re awkward and you don’t want anyone to look at it but you don’t want to throw it out either.
You sort of build self-esteem throughout the book but the way you’re able to make it work at the end with Lisa [his girlfriend at the end of that book] is that you sort of jettison a lot of what you had learned. Gilsinan: I don’t know about you, I peaked in high school.
What do you think that says about the utility of the techniques for banging lots of women versus finding someone who likes you without your having to use tricks on them?
Strauss: Yeah, so if you’re going to talk to me today about it versus then, right? Of course there was a dominant therapist to quote unquote emasculate me, so of course it was rough for me. If it was a movie, it would have been, act out sexually, go crazy, go to rehab and get better, but in real life—and it drove me nuts with the book, too—it’s true, I went to rehab, I found everything that was wrong with me, understood it, and still kept engaging in the same horrible bad behavior. Gilsinan: One of my favorite moments [in ] is towards the end, where one of your friends in the pickup-artist community starts to dissect your game.
So I’m wondering if the guy you meet at the beginning of or was it something else? But it goes through all these different techniques, and focuses on the “Mystery Method” but there’s also like Ross Jeffries, who hypnotizes people, kind of, and it’s weird, and one thing that I don’t think would age well in the Twitter era, there’s one description of a guy whose thing is to just gradually escalate physical contact and his motto is, “let the ho say no.”Strauss: But even then, I was putting that in to show the extremes. Gilsinan: But like, the equivalent today is “Netflix and chill,” right?