The Sexist

D.C. Meets “America’s No. 1 Pick-Up Artist”


This weekend, "America's officially ranked number 1 pick up artist" Adam Lyons is coming to Washington, D.C., where he will be "teaching the secrets of attraction to 15 dateless men who have each paid $1300." Here's my dating secret: Not being one of 15 people who would burn $1,300 on this. But what do I know? I've never had "14 simultaneous relationships with models, actresses and other beautiful women." From the press release:

A former school geek who was voted by his classmates as "least likely to get a girlfriend" when he was 15 has been officially ranked the Number 1 pick up artist (PUA) in America! Even better, Adam Lyons, a published author and international commentator on dating, is in WASHINGTON D.C this weekend.

Adam Lyons was given the award at the official World Pick Up Summit in Hollywood, California at the end of last year. The summit is held every year and brings together the world's best dating coaches and pick up artists from across the globe. Adam even beat Mystery, the formerly ranked number one PUA, whose exploits were chronicled in the 2005 New York Times bestseller The Game.

At the peak of Adam’s playboy lifestyle he was a renowned club promoter bringing 80-100 girls to clubs each week and having 14 simultaneous relationships with models, actresses and other beautiful women. Adam married his girlfriend, a strong Christian who goes to church every week, in August 2009 after deciding his lifestyle was no longer making him happy.

So, Lyons let down 13 lovely ladies and married his currently-active-Christian wife in August, "after deciding his lifestyle was no longer making him happy."  He was named the Number 1 Pick-Up Artist in America later that year . . . after denouncing the lifestyle and getting hitched? What kind of World Pick Up Summit is this? According to the Web site, last year's summit theme was "TRANSITIONING TO SEX!," and everyone was really excited about it because of its close proximity to shopping. "And guess what???" the Web site reads. "It takes place in the world's best place to meet the hottest babes!!! The Renaissance Hotel is located in the heart of Hollywood IN A MALL!!!" Is there any better place to transition to sex? If you're still interested in dropping $1,300, have at it.

  • just a lonely lab rat

    as a general rule, PUA make me nauseous and ashamed to be part of male species.

  • Eddie

    WTF. How hilarious is this? I would love to see an undercover journalist get "coached" by this dork. The footage would be priceless.

  • Em

    This dude proves everything I suspected in PUAs...he's a dude that didn't get any in high school and is now getting revenge on said girls because, like, how dare they not provide him with sex?

    It also makes me glad I'm in a happy relationship and don't have to deal with the mind games these asshats play.

  • jules

    if you say "PUA" as a word instead of an acronmym is sorta sounds like the noise you make when you dry heave right before you puke. "pawahhhhhh"

  • JR

    What is with these people and their big-cat surnames? Lyons and Tiger and misogyny oh my.

  • groggette

    Ha! jules, that's hilarious. Thanks for that.

  • Saurs

    Shouldn't D.C. coppers be notified that fifteen of its city's budding sexual predators (plus one national predator if you count Lyons) are going to be meeting up in a public place at an announced date and time?

  • Michael

    World Pick Up Summit. This is a thing that exists.

  • Brennan

    There's a "ranking"? And it's "official"? Really?

    Excuse me, I'll just be over there beating my head against a hard surface.

  • Gayle Force

    Oh my god! I love this P.T. Anderson movie!

  • jules

    @Michael: they intentionally timed it to coincide with the World Nuclear Summit. You can't put off talking about the important shit!

  • DanceDreaming

    Hmm, So the framing of the whole PUA thing is disgustingly misogynistic. However, I've done some reading of the actual materials they present for guys, and a lot of it is pretty shockingly pro-woman. Again, the framing remains objectifying, and they do encourage deceit, but the methods? Some are kinda awful, others pretty cool.

    They encourage giving a women you are flirting with an easy 'out' of the conversation. They encourage watching body language for signals. They encourage being pretty sure she's interested before escalating. They encourage guys paying attention to what women like, appearance-wise and style-wise. They encourage engaging on the emotional level. A bunch of other stuff too.

    There's a lot of actually positive stuff. Not too surprising considering the admittedly problematic methods for developing their info. Basically trying out all kinds of stuff, a lot, and what women responded positively to, they kept.

    The framing, and some of the methods that arise from it, are unfortunate. They kind of arise out of the milieu, ie: guys who don't understand women and want sex. This is a cultural element that's pretty strong right now. It's upsetting, and a big part of the whole 'women as sex things' aspect of our culture. The PUA thing arises out of this, and does nothing to fight it, in fact glamorizes and glorifies it. This is problematic.

    But... It does have aspects that seem positive. I'd love to see a feminist discussion on 'How non-misogynist guys can approach, benefit from and possibly reform the PUA phenomena'. Seriously, there's some positive stuff in all that crap, stuff that women have been saying for -ages-, that for some reason men haven't been hearing.

  • Saurs

    There's nothing much positive about teaching dudes Sophisticated Hunting Techniques For Ensnaring Female Prey. That their amateur psychology happens to include bits that sort of acknowledge female intelligence and autonomy -- all in the pursuit of scoring poontang, mind you -- doesn't really redeem the creepiness and obvious, unrepentant misogyny of the entire endeavor. It's not the "framing" or the "methods" of pickin'-up chicks artistes that are the problem; it's that they exist and actually make money developing and selling "strategies" for, basically, preying on women and exploiting what said artistes think are female "weaknesses."

    "I’d love to see a feminist discussion on ‘How non-misogynist guys can approach, benefit from and possibly reform the PUA phenomena’."

    Yeah, like: "stay the fuck away."

  • Emily H.

    Having read some PUA material, I have to agree with DanceDreaming. The way this material is marketed to guys, with its talk of "targets" and whatnot, is very clearly misogynistic. And for some guys, the idea that you can get a woman by "negging" her and putting her down has got to be a sort of creepy revenge fantasy.

    But a lot of the training is focused on learning the kind of techniques for social interactions that naturally outgoing, flirtatious people (of both genders) do by instinct. Like telling funny stories, asking conversation-starting questions, being charming to all members of a group (rather than just the hot chicks you're trying to mack on), and picking up on cues that someone's not interested so you don't waste your time pursuing her. A lot of the pickup stiff I've seen debunks myths about women, like the idea that they never want to have casual sex, or that they're shallow golddiggers who only want rich guys. Sometimes it replaces those stereotypes with others that are almost as harmful, sometimes not. A central tenet of a lot of the stuff is that it tells guys if they're not getting laid, there's something THEY are doing wrong/need to work on -- that it's a copout to blame women for being "shallow" or whatever.

    Of course we could object that it's lame to have to "learn" and practice social skills, as if you were learning the violin or something. But as someone who's naturally shy & took a long time to be social and outgoing, I have a lot of sympathy with guys in this position. There's no point in being all like "if you don't know how to talk to women, that's just pathetic, women are just regular people ya know" -- guys who can't talk to women already feel like pathetic losers, and advice like "just be yourself!" presumably hasn't worked.

    "I’d love to see a feminist discussion on ‘How non-misogynist guys can approach, benefit from and possibly reform the PUA phenomena’." There's nothing inherently contradictory about wanting to attract/have sex with more women, while at the same time believing it's important to get rid of sexist ideas & be respectful in every interaction with a woman. The idea of feminist pickup artistry would probs be a tough sell right now, but I'd like to see it too.

  • Saurs

    A stopped clock is right twice a day. That pick-up dudes are sometimes correct in their limited understanding of human behavior and sometimes acknowledge that women are adults who possess working brains and occasionally use them doesn't mean they have anything to offer anybody. Their entire reason for being is hunting women and treating them as if they are an enemy that must be conquered for the sake of scoring points in their stupid, puerile, homosocial game of oneupsmanship, replete with bullshit psychology and marketed as though it were a military operation ("wing-men").

    The notion that people are "naturally" outgoing or "by instinct" possess charm is an absolute bizarre one, as is the notion that men need to be trained to interact with women, particularly in a non-sexual context. Of course, that would men that women would represent something other than pussy to these guys. Which they don't.

  • Saurs

    Also, as the feminist movement is generally not in the business of making women more sexually available and accessible to men, I fail to understand what you folks are describing when you discuss a "feminist" pick-up artist industry. What would that look like, exactly?

  • bellacoker

    I'm actually really okay with people learning and practicing social skills, it is so much better than them just complaining that women should just date them anyway. The curriculum is, unfortunately, framed toward "scoring" and a transactional view of sex, But hopefully this is just the first wave, I'm sure the same guys are going to need help learning social skills for the office and for dealing with their families and the rhetoric will get modulated. This looks a lot like 2nd wave consciousness raising to me.

  • DanceDreaming


    As I said, the framing is problematic. But they really do seem to be right more then twice a day. Most of their advice is actually pretty positive, and really seems to be about taking into account female desire. A good chunk of it pretty closely mirrors feminist positions. Shrug.

    Feminism might not be about making more women sexually available to men, but at least -some- feminism is about society acknowledging and taking into account female sexual desire. And the PUA stuff does that, a lot.

    Also, men who might be perfectly capable of having a conversation with women in social contexts often find themselves at a loss when they are attracted. This actually likely plays a part in a lot of the milder sexual misconduct.

    It also works on one of the collateral affects of rape culture. Those men who -aren't- simply scum viewing their own sexual desires as inherently wrong, as violating, as harmful. If you raise men to view male desire as inherently violating, many men will either repress their desires or embrace the role of violator. Both of which have the potential to be deeply problematic.

    The framing is disgusting, deeply misogynistic and very problematic. But most of the rest is actually very positive. Figuring out ways to reframe it and still have it attractive to men seems a worthy ambition. But yeah, possibly a hard sell.

  • DanceDreaming

    An exercise:

    Sit down with the men in your life with whom you have a close friendship and ask them: Do you ever, or have you ever, thought of your sexual desires as something inherently violating of the one you desired? Have you ever felt like you were doing something wrong, just by looking at a woman and feeling a stirring of desire? Does the act of silently desiring someone feel like an nonconsensual sexual act sometimes?

    I asked them, and was pretty upset by the responses.

    This is the other side of rape culture.

  • Saurs

    As I understand the phrase, "social skills" generally means the ability to navigate one's way through life without intimidating and offending people, developing meaningful friendships, and communicating one's ideas concisely and clearly. What that has to do with explicitly scoring chicks is beyond me.

    Framing notwithstanding, the entire pick-up artist industry is based on an anti-feminist premise, in which women are treated as the inevitable passive recipients of (heterosexual) sexual advances which are concealed from being recognized as advances, and as if women are so enigmatic in their desires and motivations, so distinctly different from men, that one needs to take "courses" in learning how to approach them, carefully, as if on safari. Instructors drink deeply from the banal texts of evolutionary psychology and the entire pick-up course manual is based on gender essentialism. They actually profess faith in the notion that there are universal methods of "seduction" (mesmerizing a chick to perform sexual favors against her own better instincts).

    I realize this industry didn't develop in a vacuum; it was borne out of frustration felt by dudes who realized that in order to pull they'd sometimes have to engage women as sentient beings in mutual conversation, and not as furniture waiting to be used. The same could be said of chivalry -- which depended upon a similar binary schema in which a certain class of women were accorded a kind of practiced "respect," but it could hardly be called liberating or female-friendly. PUA hogwash about courtship is presented as though its a tested social science, however, and while I understand a dude's desire to obtain what he wants through rational means, this quasi-science reduces inter-personal relationships to algorithms and trite truisms ("negs," "gaming"). It advocates controlling dialogue for the express purpose of directing a developing relationship towards a specified point, the outcome of which is always decided and developed (furtively, and through deception) by the man. How anyone could find the stilted, artificial banter they recommend natural or compelling is not that perplexing; there are plenty of good actors running 'round, manipulating people for all sorts of reasons with the same deftly-played soft sell techniques. How feminists, however, could ever condone such tricks as psychologically sound -- and not the result of narcissistic minds distorted by their fixation on controlling women as much as possible -- is astounding.

    That being said, I don't doubt your sincerity when you write that it has some positive aspects, DanceDreaming. I've never just seen them. Would you mind providing an example, or two? I've scoured the well-known PUA sites, and I haven't really seen anything like what you're describing.