Thursday, August 31, 2006

Love Bytes

I have been wondering about the advice on these "how to pick up girls" websites (and the associated seminars and books and videos and so on). For someone like me, who has a literal turn of mind and is not great at the flirty stuff, this may actually be educational. Is it wrong or dishonest to consider practicing the "Grand Master" technique in front of a mirror before heading off to a singles bar? AVERAGE FRUSTRATED CHUMP

I've had a few emails fired my way from purveyors of such seminars that I'd like to share with you. This first quote is from an "executive live in-field dating coach." In it, he refers to the techniques taught by his enterprise as "scientifically based on sound scientific principles of female psychology and biology as to what traits women are sexually responsive to autonomously." Maybe I'm misunderestimating how his flow comes across in person, but around here fancy words are not like margarita ingredients -- you can't just throw a bunch of them in a blender and come up with something that makes girls take their pants off.

Another guy who teaches seek-and-destroy seminars tried to enlist my connections in finding hotties to moderate a threesome panel he wanted to videotape and sell on his website (apparently without paying them). His tantalizing proposal: "One of the features of the last event was a threesome panel and I want to do another one this year. But this year I have a new twist on it that I know will be very well received by the guys -- a panel of three or four very attractive, highly intelligent women discussing FFM threesomes only. Rightly or wrongly, men will not give much value to opinions on this expressed by women that are not considered attractive." These words make me feel like I've been molested. I seriously need a dozen scalding hot showers.

There's nothing new about guys making themselves middlemen between other guys and pussy -- it's called pimping -- and I'm sure you've looked at these sites and seen that not all these dudes are misogynistic dirtbags. There is simply a quality about their desired interactions with women that speaks to a hyper acquisitive harem mentality, leaving real connection -- including being a truly satisfied and satisfying lover -- out of the equation. Yes, there's a lot that's odious about it: the implication that women have no agency in this wizardry (they have no sexual agenda or autonomous desire themselves); the interest in scoring rather than relating (bragging about bagging a nurse not because you're happy to finally have someone to talk to but because nurses are educated and fell for your shit anyway); the perverse enjoyment in getting a girl to do something she wouldn't ordinarily do, possibly to her degradation (very Girls Gone Wild and, on that note, please read Claire Hoffman's fucking brilliant piece about GGW president Joe Francis in the LA Times Magazine). Despite all this, what bugs me most about these one-eyed-snake-oil salesmen is how they manipulate men. They take shy, bookish, genuinely sexy geeks (probably not unlike yourself) and, as my friend Dawn puts it, "Make you feel like a loser because you aren't a total fucking creep." Then, with zoological and military rhetoric, they turn you into one: an unctuous, single-minded sex soldier smeared in hair pomade, wearing iridescent sunglasses and smelling like you were in an explosion at the Karl Lagerfeld factory.

Do I think their tactics are effective, as in, will you get laid? Sure, but in one sense that's directly related to the women they have you shining your Grand Master flash on. In the end, all I see is you fumbling for your glasses in the morning while some screeching hellcat comes into focus above you with a g-string hanging out of her low-rise jeans yelling about how classy she is and how she doesn't usually do this sort of thing. Do you really need a high-priced seminar to pick up girls with low self-esteem? Does it come with a restraining order? I like skanky club babes as much as the next person, but why should you give some guy $1,200 to learn how to get with them? Get out a calculator. That's like, nearly five bonks with a foxy, professional hooker who doesn't get all bejiggity because she fucked you on a first date (and the next four ones). While you're having sex with her, ask her what she finds attractive about men. She's been with a lot more than these dudes have. I call that killing two birds with one bone.

All truth-in-kidding aside, my guess is you're not good at "flirting" because you'd probably rather die than grab some woman's hand in a bar and start telling her fortune (actual advice on one of these sites, and yet more proof that you need to hex them). Perhaps you also feel the kind of women you're attracted to will find these tactics embarrassing and puerile.

I won't let these guys have you, Chump. I simply won't. You have charm they don't see and they will strip it all away for something irrelevant and misguided. So how would I suggest cultivating it? Look into the workshops Ducky Doolittle is hosting in Toronto (see her schedule and book at Though Ducky focuses primarily on sexual health and pleasure, she loves men and she treats them with warm respect. She doesn't bark at them that they're wussies just because they feel awkward around women, a tactic clearly used by professional pick-up artists. Why? Because they feel precisely this way themselves.


I got really excited writing my column last week and, as a result, there were a few errors. The backs of the Stella shirts read, "To fight HIV, sex workers need human rights and workers' rights" and we were shouting "Time to deliver sex workers rights!" Mark Wainberg is the co-chairman of the conference, not the co-president, although the first person who writes in and tells dumbass here the difference wins a copy of Luscious: Stories of Anal Eroticism from Cleis Press.

And Jamie from Thailand writes that, "Kumjing means nothing related to gold in Burmese." Indeed, I did find the Burmese word for gold as "shwe" online, though my notes are very clear on this. Perhaps an accent issue was at play? Whatever the case, I will take this opportunity to encourage you all to read more about the amazing Kumjing project at