Playboy Magazine- The Asian Playboy Up Close: How Men of a Certain Race Learn Masculinity

By Zachary Schwartz

Playboy Magazine

Black Salmon

 

I’m waiting in a Manhattan diner to eat lunch with the most famous Asian “pick-up artist”—a man whose craft is seducing women, and teaching other men how to do the same—in the world, when a chunky, 5’5” 33-year-old gentlemen with a Fu Manchu mustache sits down next to me. “I’m JT Tran,” he says, extending his hand.

A short Asian guy, Tran does not exactly fit Western society’s archetype of a ladies man. “I’ll never be tall, dark and handsome,” he admits. “No one looks at me at first sight and thinks, ‘He’s the one.” What Tran does have though, is “game,” a concept as universally understandable yet undefinable as the Taoist “Dao.” Like the “Dao,” it can be mastered with time—at least that’s what Tran claims.

Tran’s Facebook is bedazzled with photos of him kissing and holding tall, beautiful women at high-end clubs around the world. He officially defines himself as a “dating coach,” and pens advice columns for LA Weekly, speaks at Ivy League universities, and runs “Asian Dating Bootcamps.” These three-day retreats allow virginal Asian males to study Tran’s secret methodology, “The ABCs of Attraction,” after which they are taken “into the field”, to clubs and malls, to practice techniques under his supervision.

Tran wasn’t always like this. He remembers being a shy middle child of a Vietnamese immigrant who could barely make eye contact with others. “Like most Asian American males, I was a late bloomer,” he says. “I didn’t kiss my first girl or go on my first date until I was 20. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing or how to make friends, so I mostly stayed home and read books.”

Photo of JT Tran, Courtesy of Levan TK for LA Weekly

Photo of JT Tran, Courtesy of Levan TK for LA Weekly

After college, Tran landed a job as a rocket scientist, literally, at NASA. At age 26, he had everything: a Mercedes, a six-figure salary, a seaside apartment on Hermosa Beach—and yet absolutely no one to share it with. No matter what he did, Tran couldn’t find a girlfriend. He recalls going to a speed dating event and saying ‘yes’ to all 60 girls he met with. “Not a single one said ‘yes’ back,” he says. “At that point, I realized that something wasn’t wrong with the 60 girls who turned me down, something was wrong with me. Somewhere along the line, maybe because of my Asian upbringing, I wasn’t taught the same social skills as everyone else.”

Tran, determined to lift the curse of his stereotype, attended a pick-up “bootcamp” run by pick-up artist Mystery. He then spent the next five years mired in the shadow world of night clubs and bars, applying, as he describes it, his “systems engineering” mind to his game. He started writing a blog, the “Asian Playboy Blog,” about his experiences. One of his readers was a Chinese-Canadian mother whose son, at 16, was so traumatized by bullies that he refused to make friends and had never been on a date. Desperate, she rang up Tran. “I told her, ‘Ma’am, I’m going to be the big brother he never had this weekend,” he remembers. And so the first “Asian dating bootcamp” was spoke into existence.

As a biracial first-generation Taiwanese kid from the Midwest, I understand the struggle. An Asian guy in America, among all demographics, can expect to have the lowest total average of sexual partners, three, in his lifetime. At the age of 18, nearly 75 percent of Asian-American guys are virgins, compared to 43 percent of other boys.

The psychological effects of never having a mate, of never having anyone want you, can be devastating to any gender.

Any number of conspirators can be fingered for the emasculation of Asian men, but the media, which often portrays Asian men as weak, effeminate foreigners who rarely “get the girl,” plays a huge role. In the 1984 coming-of-age film Sixteen Candles, Asian student Long Duk Dong’s—whose every entrance is announced with a gong—romantic aspirations are seen as comic relief. Jet Li originally kissed Aaliyah at the end of Romeo Must Die—a 2000 action-film remake of “Romeo and Juliet”—but the scene tested so poorly with audiences that filmmakers were forced to remove it.

Racism comes from the outside, and after a while, from the inside. Growing up, I internalized stereotypes about who I was supposed to be: comic relief, academic co-conspirator, but never an American Romeo. By seventh grade, I was sitting in the back of my dad’s car, crying as I told him of my realization that “no girl will ever like me because I’m Asian.”

I eventually had positive experiences with romance and sex, but because they came so much later than that of my other friends, I always felt like I was playing catch-up on love. Many of my Asian friends still feel downright doomed. Their options are few: to accept a life of involuntary celibacy, embrace it, or—for those with money and a willingness to work with the dark arts—swallow the red pill and jump down the rabbit hole of pick-up artistry.

At the end of our meal, Tran invited me to attend one of his “Asian Dating Bootcamps,” which normally costs a little over $1500 to attend. He was eager to brag of its effectiveness. “I’ve had guys have their first kisses, I’ve had guys lose their virginities on this bootcamp,” he says. “People’s lives change in one weekend.”

Let’s face it—there are worse things than not getting laid. But the psychological effects of never having a mate, of never having anyone want you, can be devastating to any gender. Every yin needs a yang—that’s the essence of “Dao,” which literally translates to “the right way.” But for now, there was Tran.

The art of pick-up has been practiced for centuries, maybe forever. Seduction is a puzzle shared between species. Birds sing melodies, gorillas beat their chests, hooded seals blow huge red air sacs from their nostrils. Robert Greene writes about Ninon de Lenclos, the most infamous French courtesan of the 17th century, who advised a young Marquis to approach a certain countess with an “air of nonchalance” as to create a “state of emotional confusion that is a ‘prerequisite for successful seduction’”.

The modern pick-up community for men can be traced to Ross Jeffries, who wrote a 1992 book titled How To Get the Women You Desire Into Bed. Jeffries observed that the Sexual Revolution had liberated—for the first time in modern Western history—a massive, unmarried population of heterosexual women. While men watched their local Schwarzenneger effortlessly sleep with whomever he liked, the “AFC” —average frustrated chump—was left clueless as to how to compete in this new dating market, where traditional markers like religion and money mattered less and less.

Jeffries pinpointed traits like confidence, mystery, and the ability to make one feel safe—not just being a “nice guy”—as attractive to women, and taught associated conversational trees and body language to convey that. Empirical evidence shows that pick-up training does, in fact, improve men’s dating skills, though the dominant, aggressive approach practiced by many modern pick-up artists has been proven to work better on women with conservative views.

The internet is a sweltering jungle for subcultures, filled with life and shade, often evolving them into something more gigantic and dangerous. Much of the pick-up artist community today is made up of scummy white men who, among other transgressions, prey specifically on Asian women’s documented preference for white men, referring to them as a “cheat code.” Pick-up artists like Julian Blanc have bragged that a white man can do “whatever he wants” to Asian women, and films himself in Asia convincing girls to cheat on their boyfriends with him.

This makes Tran, as an Asian man teaching other Asian men, a unicorn in his field. He’ll willingly critique his peers while offering himself as their moderate alternative. “Ethics, unfortunately, is not a hallmark of our industry,” he says. “But, I think you can build up your confidence without tearing anyone down.”

I arrived one Friday afternoon to the Manhattan studio in which Tran would be conducting his three-day seminar. Each student was immediately given a thick, 300-page textbook: “The ABCs of Attraction by JT Tran.” In the book were jokes, conversation-starters, body-language diagrams, sine graphs illustrating the optimal flow of conversation when meeting a girl at the club, and so on.

The seven students stood up to introduce themselves. Mostly Asian, they ranged from 30-something entrepreneurs, to 20-something graduate students, to late-teens cooks. One was Will, a Chinese immigrant from Canada who had spiky hair, an eager face, and square-rimmed glasses that often flooded with fluorescent light. “God gave me so much talent in academics, but paralyzed me in social life,” he said in a heavy accent. The room murmured in solidarity.


The table became a sight to behold—five awkward Asian males surrounded by a group of chattering, attractive women in a club.


For the next six hours, Tran went through the ABCs, starting with “A” for attraction, “B” for banter, going all the way to “F.” He taught the importance of posture, good eye contact, asking interesting questions, touch, and so forth. The students practiced introductions with the help of “Katie,” Tran’s 6-foot-tall assistant, and Jeff Khan, Tran’s Taiwanese apprentice.

After one particularly rough session in which Tran barked “Stop!” and proceeded to chew Will out on his total lack of a smile—“Don’t be creepy,” he admonished—he offered a story as encouragement to the group.

“I wasn’t always like this, guys,” Tran recalled. “Once, I was at the club, and I approached these four Asian girls and a blonde white girl. I thought that because she was with Asian girls, she would have liked Asian people, but as soon as I approached, she put her hand up. ‘Stop! We don’t like Asian guys,’ she said. So I walked away, whatever. Then I hit it off with this Latina girl. I brought her over to my friends, and my white friend puts his arm around me, looks at her and says: ‘What are you doing with this Asian guy! You know they have the smallest dicks in the world right!’ And, of course, it was all over from that.”

Tran paused. He wiped his forehead. “And you know what I did that night, guys? I went home and I cried. I cried and felt sorry for myself. But—and this is the important thing—I got up the next morning and I tried again.”

We met outside the club later that night and formed a huddle. Tran gave us last-minute advice: “Remember, we’re not here to get anyone drunk. You want to be sober, and you want them to sober. And don’t form a sausage zone. Okay, go!” He yelled. As the group shuffled in, he remarked to me “When they clump together like that, I call it the Great Wall of Chinamen.”

At the club—a thumping, multicolored rooftop affair—I took a seat and watched Will approach a few women. The first girl forcefully rebuffed him. “Excuse me, can you give us some space,” she hissed, and turned back around. Will scratched his head and moved on. He walked up to another girl. “Hey, I’m Will. It’s really nice to meet you,” he spat out breathlessly, before she rolled her eyes and walked away.

Meanwhile, Tran was swaggering around in a fiery beige-and-scarlet suit. He walked up to a group of women walking in. “Hey, our table’s having a birthday today, why don’t you come and celebrate it with us?” He said. He lifted one of their hands, kissed it, and led them to our table.

The table became a sight to behold—five awkward Asian males surrounded by a group of chattering, attractive women in a club. Will put his arm around one of them, and she kissed him on the cheek. Another student was sloppily making out.

Tran came up to me. “Fobby power!” He declared, shaking his fist. “We’ve had bootcamps where there’ve been 10 Asian guys and 10 white girls at the table,” he said. “And literally, a circle of white guys will form and stare at us looking pissed off. Asian guys aren’t supposed to do this.”

It can be tempting to think of this as a story of revenge: Asian women have a 36 percent rate of out-marriage, the second-highest rate in the United States, mostly to white men. Asian men dating white women might satisfy a lust for evening the score, but it doesn’t end the karmically damned cycle of internalized racism. “I make it a point to tell my students to be open to women of color,” Tran tells me, and over the course of the night, he also brings Asian, Latina and black women to the table. “We Asian men hate being discriminated against because of our race, and we should not impose that on women ourselves.”

At the end of the night, we reconvened at a late-night Manhattan diner. The students swapped stories of first kisses, slow dances and trading digits—like high school boys after the bowling alley, fist-bumping for just getting a number.

“This is just the beginning,” Tran told me. The next day, the group would cover “Future”, the surprisingly placid “F” in ABCs of Attraction. Tran would talk about becoming a person that’s easy to fall in love with—having a fulfilling career, picking up interesting hobbies, continuing self-education. In short, becoming self-actualized. “You’re here to be in love,” he instructed. “To love a lot, or to love one.”

After the bootcamp, there is the option to go all the way down the rabbit hole—to continue paying Tran and become his apprentice, traveling the world with him, seducing women on an international level. “That takes, frankly and realistically,” he says, “a massive amount of discipline, persistence, and the ability to just push yourself physically and emotionally, day after day, night after night.”

But, Tran admits, “Most of my students grow into what would be considered ‘a decently successful white guy who has a few girlfriends in his life before he gets married.’ They’re no longer Asian guys who feel totally emasculated and like they’re going to die alone. They’re getting to the point, where they can say, ‘Hey, I’m just as cool, attractive and successful as my peers now. I no longer have this unfulfilling love and sex life. I’m finally in the norm of American society.’”

The Awl- The Seduction Community

Is This Pickup Artist Actually… Helping People?

“Once you go Asian, you can’t go Caucasian. Once you go yellow—hello!” JT Tran told his audience of hopeful men.

This was in a Manhattan conference room on Valentine’s Day, and JT was running a weekend-long bootcamp with a simple mission: to help Asian men get some skin in the dating game, and maybe even get laid.

The class’s methods and language were taken straight from the pickup artists’ world. And yet, the course also resembled a rollicking post-grad symposium on race. Yellow fever. That infamous OKCupid survey that showed Asian women overwhelmingly preferred white men. The culture clash between an Asian upbringing and a Western world that has different expectations for success. And the ease with which people speak racistly of Asian men—like the way Lorde and her Asian boyfriend were recently torn into on Twitter.

Laboring in a dating world that seems stacked against his kind, JT, whose name is Jerry and who bills himself as a transformational figure in the Asian community, is a man on a mission to transform the Western image of Asian men from asexual nerds into shagworthy dating material—all through the science and/or art of picking up women.

The depth of subjects covered during the course belied the sleazy promotional photos of JT and his students, bathed in the sharp light of a camera flash, sucking face and embracing mostly white, leggy women at clubs and bars, as displayed on his dating company website, ABCs of Attraction.

As a Filipino American woman and feminist, I had a problem with these photos. Are white women the ultimate, idealized dating goal? Aren’t pickup artists inherently scammy and sleazy? It was troublesome. But I’m the wife to another Filipino, and the sister of five brothers, one of whom is comically inept with women, and so I came with an open mind. Can a pickup artist actually make men into better, more confident versions of themselves?

“If you want the girl of your dreams, you have to be the man of her dreams,” JT said, during his lectures. That’s a non-gross principle that just might work. Throughout the weekend’s bootcamp, the eight men in attendance actually changed. A tall and shy Chinese student talked to the most girls during the group’s first nightclub outing. On the next night out, another student, who had a halo of scruffy black hair around his bald head, underwent a makeover, danced with girls, and managed to score a phone number. There was even kissing.

Often clothed in a sports coat with a dress shirt unbuttoned almost mid-chest, his hair styled into a small quiff, JT has a round, open face and is stockily built. He is five foot five. He is 35, from Los Angeles, and Vietnamese American. He is a short, average-looking Asian guy.

But he also has a certain panache. He moves like a man completely sure of himself—a turn-on for some women. A skilled flirt, he doesn’t let his physical attributes deter him.

Raised in a poor family with two brothers and a tiger mom (speaking of stereotypes!) who emphasized school, JT was a cliché: a nerdy, studious, shy Asian boy. He went to prom by himself, before jetting off to major in aerospace engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology.

After college, he worked as a subcontractor for NASA and the Air Force—literally as a rocket scientist, he said—and settled in Los Angeles. He was working out. Driving a Mercedes. A nice pad at the beach. But he had zero luck in the dating game.

“I tried everything. Speed dating. Match. eHarmony rejected me. They told me I was too cerebral and analytical. ‘We have no matches for you,’” he said. “What’s wrong? No girls chose me. It was brutal that my market value in the dating world was non-existent.”

Things changed when he became a student of Mystery, the infamous, funny-hat-wearing pickup artist who was immortalized in Neil Strauss’ book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. The lessons, which encompassed psychology and self-improvement, changed his life.

“My God, this is possible,” he said. “This was like discovering light and fire. It was the first time I ever thought that talking to girls is a learnable skill.”

He gave himself the nickname the Asian Playboy and started a blog detailing his successes and failures—a kind of “Sex and the City” chronicle for Asian men.

His recreational pickup practice turned into a profession when he answered a call from a Chinese woman who begged him to help her son, who was getting harassed by neo-Nazis in Toronto. He helped his first student gain confidence to deter his bullies along with the skills to talk to girls.

“I never really thought of making this into a career,” said JT. “Just fighting racism and being a role model to other Asian men.” But by 2005, he’d started his company.

The boot camp had eight students. The men were a motley group. A doctor, a scientist, and everything in between, they made up various ethnicities from Filipino to Chinese. One had come from Newfoundland, Canada. They were of varying levels of attractiveness and fitness, some handsome, some overweight. They had differing levels of experience with women, from limited exposure to a few coming off long term relationships. Their names have been changed to protect their identity.

There was Eugene, the balding Chinese scientist with the heavy Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) accent. He came in wearing a wrinkled military-style shirt that made him look like a reject from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Total ladyboner killer.

Derrick was a cute Korean American who had traveled to the boot camp from Northern Virginia and had told no one about his weekend plans. He was coming off a long-term relationship and was ready to branch out beyond dating other Koreans.

Chris, the Filipino from Montreal, probably had more experience with women than the other guys. He had long-term relationships before and was comfortable in clubs, but felt like he needed a refresher course due to a demanding job.

Henry, the tall shy guy from mainland China, had the same deep voice as Dolph Lundgren.

One student, Ken, was Jewish—and was taking the course a second time. The 20-something sported a nimbus of blonde curls and social skills that deteriorated under a punishing 60-hour work week on Wall Street. JT said he’s had white students like Ken take the course before, which is marketed to not just Asians but also other ethnicities and “not classically good looking” men. (“Imagine if we taught clients who didn’t have any unfair disadvantages (like stereotypes) and all they needed were the techniques. It’s like throwing gasoline and napalm all at the same time on a 10-foot bonfire,” JT once wrote.)

The course started unceremoniously.

“I call this a tough love program but without the love,” said JT, who pointed to a message on the computer screen: “If you are not ready for constructive criticism, then you should not be here! Over this weekend: I may hurt your feelings.”

What followed was a lecture on self-improvement, about putting in the work to become better, more attractive men, and psychological principles about dealing not just with women but also with other guys. JT rattled off his success stories: the virginity lost, the multiple sexmates, students who dated celebrities, serious girlfriends, the weddings. One student repaired his relationship with his parents. Another quit drugs.

“It’s how much you put in,” he said. “The possibilities of your success are limitless.”

Befitting his background as an engineer, he put up sine wave charts on the dance and pull of flirtatious encounters. There was a flood of material. There were intricate tips to remember about voice tonality.

“My God,” one overwhelmed student whispered.

JT had his students act in role-playing games with his trainers and his designated wingwoman, Katie.

Katie was a tall, pretty brunette who exuded an unforced sensuality. In a past life, she was a pageant queen. With her face framed by wavy brown hair, she made the perfect wingwoman as she gently corrected the students with a flirty, sweet smile.

There were three other trainers, all former students: Andrew, an elfin Taiwanese American, was a daredevil. He had played with poi and had old burn marks on his chest that looked like mild eczema scars; Drew, the beefy bro-ish Vietnamese American guy, with the strong, empathic handshake; Jared, the handsome Jewish guy, who had a bedroomy stare and a fine, slender figure.

There were instructions:

“Body language is more important than what you say.”

“If you feel nervous, wiggle your toes. Nobody can see your toes.”

“Attractive women are very rarely single for long. There’s an infinite supply of desperate horny men.”

“Nice guys. They don’t rock the boat, but nobody likes them. It’s okay to be polarizing.”

They also did “kino exercises,” a PUA classic, where the students practiced getting a woman’s attention by turning her shoulder to pivot towards them. They all practiced on Katie and the trainers, who corrected them on their touch, approach, and all the cues of the body.

Two hours in, JT deemed the men ready to hit the field.

It was cold and dirty snow littered the ground.

That night, the DL on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side was full of couples, packs of drunk single chicks coming off work, men prowling in groups, and us. I met up there with my friend Emily Chu, who is Chinese American, pretty, and a lesbian, and who was just as excited and curious about the outing as I was.

After smokes in a chilly patio with a few of the men, JT parked himself next to a lounge area and set his students loose in the loud nightclub.

They approached girls one after another. They kinoed. A few were brushed off by women; the the trainers stood by to quickly give advice to the rejected students. Henry, the Chinese Dolph Lundgren, started talking to a tipsy black woman, who looked like she’d just left her cubicle farm. She exhibited actual interest.

One of the students, a chubby doctor from the hinterlands of Canada, disappeared with a woman to the dance floor. Eugene—poor Eugene!—stuck out like a sore thumb with his baggy military-style clothes and bad haircut. He would approach women but couldn’t sustain a conversation.

The other students had varying levels of success. A few got phone numbers. Henry won the distinction of approaching the most girls that night.

And whenever I approached the bar for a drink, men—white, black, and Asian—would try to kino me. One young Asian guy with a weird Donald Drumpf pompadour grabbed me by the arms and led me to his group of other Asian friends.

“Did you know you look like this Anime character?” he said, showing me a picture of a short, four-eyed Asian anime girl with black bangs and wearing kiddie clothes; a chibi.

“You suck at this,” I told him.

One 20-something white man pivoted me on the shoulder and introduced me to his other white male buddy.

“Hi. I am married,” I said.

It was strange and funny. I wasn’t trying to attract attention. I had greasy bangs (I was on a no-shampoo kick) and I thought I looked rather innocuous with jeans, leather jacket, and my heavy Harvard Bookstore bag slung over my shoulder. I’d fancied that would serve as a chastity belt—no man shall pass.

“They are wannabes,” said JT, about these other would-be pickup artists at the club.

Despite being subjected to the same maneuvers myself in the club, it was actually gratifying to see JT’s guys approach women, fall, and dust themselves off again—and then succeed. I actually clapped when Henry did a successful pivot on a woman and engaged her in a long chit chat.
Emily spent the night alternately chatting with JT and the students and thumbing through girls on Tinder. She was impressed too. “Online dating has made me lazy,” she said.

The night ended at a pho place in Koreatown, where the students and trainers dissected their encounters or “sets.”

The outing could be summed up by that Samuel Beckett quote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

If it had not been for the pickup scene, JT would have probably fulfilled his childhood dream and trained to be an astronaut, instead of teaching Asians the finer points of approaching women, seduction, dating, and grooming.

But there is a need. His company’s mission dovetails with certain facets about being yellow in a Western hegemony, where white men are at the top of the social and economic pecking order.

Let’s get to the facts first: In that OKCupid survey that basically showed everybody is racist, white men got the most replies from women of every ethnicity.

Looking at white, Asian, and Hispanic women:

“These three types of women only respond well to white men. More significantly, these groups’ reply rates to non-whites is terrible. Asian women write back non-white males at 21.9%, Hispanic women at 22.9%, and white women at 23.0%.”

Specifically, Asian women responded to Asian men 22% percent of the time, and to white men, 29% of the time.

“White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively,” OKCupid concluded.

Data from the Facebook app, Are You Interested, showed that white, Latino, and Asian women again responded most frequently to white men. All the men, except for Asians, responded the most to Asian women. Tellingly, Asian men responded the most to Latinas.

A study on intermarriage by Pew showed that Asian women are twice as likely to marry outside of their race than Asian men.

This data is borne out in the field during boot camp. The Asian women JT and his cohorts encountered during class outings either walked away or explicitly said they were not into Asian men.

“I used to obsess over it,” said JT, about being snubbed by Asian women and the many Asian women with white men he would encounter. “I saw it constantly.”

Why the marked preference for white men?

Is it a Western culture that glorifies white men and stereotypes, slanders and marginalizes other races? Asian men are seen as nerdy, feminine, short nobodies with small penises, black men as loudmouth gangbangers with not much income potential, Hispanic men as short, creepy guys who beat their girlfriends.

I see this stereotyping at my husband’s work, where his non-Asian, mostly white co-workers call him “a small Filipino guy.” (My husband, five foot seven, has the same build as Bruce Lee, slender and muscular.)

“You lose status when you date an Asian guy. Socially, you are at the bottom of the pecking order,” said JT.

Case in point, the vitriol directed towards Lorde and her boyfriend James Lowe, who’s been called every name in the book online.

“That upset the natural order of things,” said JT, who called Lorde’s boyfriend a hipster.

JT also believes Asian American women imbibed this cultural stereotype of weak Asian men and implicitly prefer white men because they are at the top of the power structure in this country. Tall white guys are the type that Asian women go after, at a significantly higher rate, he said.

A dirty little secret in the pickup world is that white professional pickup artists can inflate their success numbers if they just target Asian women, said JT, who described it as a “cheat code.” Many white pickup artists have yellow fever, which is a whole different can of worms.

JT described many professional white pickup artists as former nerds, like himself, and they gravitated towards Asian girls because they are seen as studious and nerdy like themselves. And there’s the whole image of Asian woman that they are drawn to: different and exotic.

“He has social status as a white male. It’s easy to pick up girls, of course, because you are a decent looking white guy and you are targeting Asian women,” said JT.

I asked him repeatedly: “Are Asian women easy?”

“You are marrying into the ruling class,” JT said. “I am not blaming Asian women because they use it to make life easier.”

As for the snubs from Asian women, JT left those hang ups a long time ago.

“Nowadays I don’t give it much thought. The only thing you can control is what you do,” said JT. He himself has a thing for blondes.

He encourages his students, who are mostly Asian, to branch out and see women from other races. A great deal of Asian men in the U.S. will never get married, he said, citing census figures. (In 2012 government data, 36% of Asian men in the U.S. aged 30 to 34 have never married, compared to 22% of Asian women the same age.) So it’s best to expand your dating pool, he said.

“The biggest misconception about Asian men is that they only date Asian women,” said JT, more than once during the boot camp.

The strangest thing happened during boot camp. I found that many of the lessons he gave to his students could apply to me, an Asian woman.

Like many Asian families, my parents were strict towards me and my five brothers—probably stricter than other similar families. They forbade us to hang out with friends and made it difficult for us to participate in after school activities. Academics and church were to be the main focus of our lives.

When I went to college and into the workplace, I was ill-equipped and socially inept. I felt out of place, an alien in my own country.

“They taught us to survive, but not to thrive,” JT said about Asian immigrant parents.

Drawing from the same conclusions as that Wesley Yang story on Asian Americans inNew York magazine, I also decided that the tools and standards of success my parents had instilled in me were not going to help me in the workplace or the social arena. I was great dealing with institutions that had quantitative measurements, like earning grades. But navigating the social minefield of college and work was tough. It was difficult for me to make friends and allies in either place, and difficult to make my voice heard above the din of more socially skilled peers.

Some people call this barrier to achievement for Asians the bamboo ceiling—a series of factors and processes that impede the advancement of Asians in the working world. Sure there’s racism in this process, but I blame mostly cultural reasons. We’re taught to be quiet and diffident to authority. There’s a mindset that many Asians take on that hurts their self-esteem: not being white enough, not being American enough.

When I was a crime reporter, I could be assertive and aggressive when I interviewed people in the streets. When it came to dealing with difficult bosses or coworkers, I was meek, and I hated myself for it.

This learned cultural behavior doesn’t help us in the Western working world, and also doesn’t do Asian American men any favors in the dating realm, where they are seen as quiet, weak and passive. Easily cowed. All the while, they’re battling an internal racism that they don’t quite measure up.

So I couldn’t help but see pieces of myself in the students. The goal here, after all, even when couched in the language of pick up artistry, was to better themselves and overcome whatever cultural or learned behavior that was thrown up in their path.

Their success on the second night out was gratifying.

Eugene got a haircut (thank fucking God!) and he bought new, more stylish clothes. He had much better luck on the second night’s outing. At one point, two blondes were vying for his attention.

And Chris chatted up and then made out with a model-beautiful Indian woman on the second club outing.

“Even I was jealous,” said Drew.

Three girls were looking for Max, a Chinese guy. Two girls kissed Derrick.

“Yes, it was awesome,” he said, and smiled.

“There were multiple people on fire,” said Andrew.

After the boot camp was over, I asked JT, “Have you thought of modifying your classes for the corporate world? For both men and women, to combat the bamboo ceiling?”

Taking a course like that would have probably saved me many years of trial and error. The journey to be surer in myself might have been shorter.

I told friends and relatives that I was following these guys, and they chimed in with their take on JT and pickup artists.

A few asked for JT’s contact information. My shy brother, a gifted artist and illustrator, wanted me to give him the skinny on JT and his cohorts.

Another friend, who shall remain nameless and is clumsy with women, said: “I am horny. And I want to get laid. Do you think he can help me?” (“Uh, thanks for telling me,” I said.)

One of my best friends, Suleman, a Pakistani Canuck, wrinkled his nose at the numerous pictures of white women draped over the arms and laps of JT’s Asian students.

“They are just picking up drunk, stupid white girls,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any achievement in that. I think it says more about their racial insecurities than their ability to talk to woman.”

One female friend had strong negative feelings about the whole pickup scene. She called it predatory and manipulative—especially after the dustup over a Kickstarter campaign last year to fund a seduction guide that ostensibly encouraged rape and other creepy behaviors.

“They are objectifying women. We become interchangeable commodities,” she said.

That can be true. The PUA world runs the gamut from the horrific to the fascinating, with lots of stops in-between. (Reading materials on JT’s website, you can get all of it at once: the mercenary methods are also mixed with insight, like that a woman might resist hopping into bed with a strange man because of “the hazards it presents to her mind and body.”)

To me, pickup seems innocuous to other methods of snagging a mate, such as mail-order brides. I have a friend with an Asian fetish who has been cycling through long distance girlfriends from Philippines to Thailand. He would share photos of girls he was talking to online. At one point, he even shared a photo of me on his Facebook wall without my permission.

In light of exploitive practices such as those, JT is closer to someone with his heart in the right place.

“I thoroughly condemn any use of force against women, having been raised by a single mother myself who had to deal with domestic violence. As you yourself saw during the last day of the ABCs Of Attraction lecture, I always tell my students that when a woman says no, you stop (if, in fact, you as the man don’t stop first before she even says it),” he wrote to me.

After talking to girls he dated, he learned more about the vast extent of sexual assault. He took those lessons and the trials his mother had suffered to heart.

“The world is a dangerous place for women,” he told his students during a bit on how to make women feel comfortable and safe during the course of a hookup or date.

This talk, though, preceded a lecture on how to take a (consenting!) woman’s clothes off in two easy steps. In case you need to know: 1. After asking her to take off her shoes, slip off her thong and skirt in one move and 2. Unhook the bra and lift that off along with shirt. (My very deep thoughts on this matter: there should be a merit badge for that.)

When it was all over, students said they would recommend the course.

“I definitely learned a whole lot. If I didn’t take boot camp, I wouldn’t have learned this by myself for sure,” said Chris, the Canadian Filipino, probably the most experienced student.

“I took another boot camp but with a white guy. But I wanted something Asian specific,” said Eugene, the FOBish scientist. “It’s really good with social skills.”

The boot camp’s influence is more evident in JT’s former students turned trainers, who took the class’ lessons to heart. Drew turned his life around because of the course. Before he was henpecked and emotionally abused by his tiny Vietnamese girlfriend, who used her size to demonstrate her power over him, he said.

During a lull in the course, he showed me photos of women he had dated—all who appeared to have the same curves as Daphne Joy, cover model and rumored mother of a child with 50 Cent. Drew’s last girlfriend was a busty, pretty black woman.

Andrew, JT’s Taiwanese American trainer, said the course changed him from a sad college student who was friendzoned a lot to the more confident man he is today.

“I was very good at hiding my emotions, but in reality I was really depressed,” he said. “I took the course and I admitted to myself I had to put the effort in to change.”

This was the same guy who, on the first night of boot camp, necked with a woman he had just met at the bar. Photos of him getting kissed by leggy white chicks adorn the company website.

And there is Jared, the 20-something Jewish trainer with the soulful eyes. It was hard for me to believe that he was a shyer, more diffident person in the past.

But what about the master himself?

While running his dating business, he has had serious relationships, mostly with white women, one of whom got involved in the company. But he said he’s learned to separate “church and state,” especially after the relationship ended.

He’s said he’s looking to get married, but isn’t in a hurry.

“I’m looking for an almost impossible alchemy of class and crass, beauty and practicality, style, wickedness and sexiness with an irreverent attitude who thumbs her nose at the establishment and healthy love of fun,” he wrote to me after boot camp. He described his ideal woman to be in the mold of Audrey Hepburn, whatever race she happens to be.

Most likely she will be non-Asian. He admits to liking taller, gregarious women, but it also comes to simple practicality, he wrote. There are many Asian women who don’t want to date Asian men, he again reminded me.

“Am I little jaded? Sure. It’s hard not to be after 10 years of socializing and seeing female behavior condensed into a four-hour Darwinian struggle for survival that exposes the harsh, hypocritical and politically incorrect side of dating and sexual preference,” he wrote. “But I’m still that rocket scientist who dreamed of being an astronaut when I was younger. I may not be as big of a romantic as when I was younger, but he’s still there. The biggest difference is that I no longer put girls in the ‘fantasy girlfriend zone’ and instead treat them as normal human beings with all their flaws and foibles.”

In March and April alone, JT will be teaching in San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas and Atlanta. He may teach again in New York in the fall. Prices for the bootcamps are tiered by access, ranging from $499 to $2999.

At the end of the boot camp in February, JT turned to his students and gave them his version of a commencement speech.

“How many days are in a human lifetime? If you live to 100 years, that’s 36,000 days. That’s not a lot. Time is the most important non-renewable resource that you can never get back. You have already spent one third of it. Those first 12,000 days are gone. The best 12,000 days are right here, right now. Do it now. It’s your turn to fulfill your destiny and not just lazily lay back.” He paused. “Congratulations, you are all graduates.”

Sharon Adarlo is a writer and artist based in Newark. She can be found at her personal website or on Twitter.

Northwestern University Asian- Spring 2012- The Asian Playboy

NU Asian- Spring 2012- The Date Doctor

The Asian Playboy

“World’s Best Asian Pickup Artist” JT Tran breaks down the ABCs of attraction. By Kerri Pang

Asian men have small penises.
Fact? Nope, says Vietnamese-American pickup artist JT Tran, who calls the claim the biggest stereotype people have about Asian men, and the one that aggravates the special treatment of Asian men. “We’re considered as effeminate and not as dominant,” Tran says.

Such an image damages Asian men’s chances in the dating arena, Tran says, and it’s his job to help.

With this philosophy, the self-proclaimed “Asian Playboy” is on a mission to see everyday Asian men become their own heroes – by training them through boot camps run by his company, ABCs of Attraction. Tran, based in Los Angeles, was voted the Best Asian Dating Coach for four consecutive years at the World Pickup Artist Summit. But, Tran says, “This was never intended to be a business.” In fact, his current field has little to do with the college degree in aerospace engineering he obtained from the Florida Institute of Technology. Following graduation, Tran moved to California and took up a six-figure salary job as a rocket scientist. He lived beside the beach, began surfing and drove around in a luxury car. Yet, as ideal as his life was, one component was missing: the dream girl. Despite trying mixers, happy hours, blind dates and even speed dating, no girl wanted to date him.

Even eHarmony rejected me because I was too cerebral and analytical,” Tran says, laughing. “I realized I sucked with women. That was my turning point. No one liked me.”

That was nearly a decade ago. Today, Tran is the founder of ABCs of Attraction, a company that aims to equip Asian men with self-confidence and the practical ability to attract women they desire. Self-described as the “Asian dating coach,” Tran explains the teaching method as an all-encompassing, holistic approach that deals with how men think, act and speak.

These boot camps are three days and three nights and they suck,” Tran says. “What we’re doing is essentially pushing these guys to grow and become the men they were supposed to be.”

Tran remembers delving into the party scene four to six nights a week while still holding a 9-to-5 job as an aerospace engineer. His explorations, both adventures and misadventures, went into his blog, one that evolved to gain a large following of Asian-Americans. “It wasn’t simply all braggadocio,” Tran says. “Essentially, I had the first Asian-American dating blog from the male perspective.”

Given his results-oriented mind as an engineer, Tran studied the psychology behind dating and bases the programs of ABCs of Attraction on psychological studies. He implemented the methods in the real world and documented his results.

I put myself out there and was not afraid that I was going those issues. I’d have good nights, and I’d have just humiliating nights,” Tran said.

The blog also gave Tran his first unofficial client: a Chinese-Canadian mother who was worried about her oft-bullied son. Given the vast need for a practical and active solution for the struggles that Asian men were facing, Tran found an increasing number of opportunities to be a spokesperson on the issue.

People started coming to me because no one dared to ask the question of how race affected dating. And if it does, what does one do about it? Do Asian men really need a specific Asian dating coach? “Yes!” he says. “The issues that Asian men face are different from what Caucasians face.”

According to the Pew Research Center, three in 10 Asian newlyweds in 2008 married outside their ethnicity or race. Within this category, the rate of out-marriage among female Asian newlyweds was twice that of male newlyweds. As society reinforces these stereotypes, Asian men are increasingly unable to break out of established labels. According to Tran’s experience, the biggest stereotype women have about Asian men is how they only date within their race. He says that it is based on the psychological concept of heuristics, where women simply do not consider Asian men as potential lovers because of that pre-conceived stereotype.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. As Wayne Gretzky said, ‘You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take,’” Tran says. “The mistake is not trying, not putting yourselves out there [and] trying to protect your ego instead of embracing risk.”

Nevertheless, it is inevitable that Tran’s identity as the “Asian pickup artist” entails a negative connotation. Some may view his lessons as gimmicks and presume that pickup artists like Tran are womanizers. However, the founder offers another perspective. We’re all confident around our friends, but all of a sudden guys get nervous talking to a beautiful girl. In that scenario, he is not being true to himself. He has become someone who’s scared, anxious and unconfident,” Tran says. “We’re simply giving him the ability to be himself in front of her.”

The journey doesn’t stop there. Tran refers to ABCs of Attraction as a mechanism of social change and says addressing Asian men’s struggles in the dating sphere touches a larger social issue. One of Tran’s pupils, 23-year-old Ben Junya, moved to California from Illinois less than a year ago after being inspired to pursue greater dreams by Tran’s boot camp. Junya attests to the larger picture and purpose behind ABCs of Attraction. I learned not just about pickup but how to structure my life, to use my powers for good and not evil, to leave people better than you found them and how you have to improve your lifestyle if you want to attract women,” Junya says of his experience with the program.

As a Thai-American, Junya was drawn to ABCs of Attraction because it was geared towards Asian men. He attributes many struggles that Asian men undergo to their “tiger moms,” and is intent on socializing his children in the future so they will not have to suffer the same complexes many Asians do. When I go out at night and I see a pretty girl and approach her, she automatically thinks that I’m an asexual creature because I’m Asian,” Junya says. “ABCs really taught me to embrace being Asian and not be afraid to stretch my feathers out and show the world who I am.” Junya’s testimonial points to how the dating issues Asian men face stem from deeper underlying sources shaped by cultural upbringing. Even worse, such fundamental issues are hindrances not only to dating prospects, but also to opportunities in society. 
To Tran, this realization is especially crucial for college students, who are at a formative stage of their lives. College students should start to realize that specializing in academic prowess will still leave them handicapped when they enter into the real world,” Tran says. “Confidence in dating women also translates into confidence in the job.”

In fact, Tran thinks that college is the time when it will be the easiest to get a date, a girlfriend and subsequently get married. He encourages Asian and Asian-American men in college to solidify their values and identity while they are still able to do so. If you don’t get the groundwork settled, you’ll suffer from a deficit for the rest of your lives, spending time trying to play catch-up. It’s like compound growth: You want to get your deposit in as early as possible,” Tran says. “You don’t know what the edge is until you step off.”

The Asian Playboy is coming to Vancouver

The ABC’s of attraction and the Asian Playboy have been causing a stir in the pickup community for quite some time now. Billed as the only holistic form of pickup up, The Asian Playboy aka Jerry Tran has garnered the reputation of being one most popular pickup artists and was voted The World’s Greatest Asian Pick Up Artist. Now you can be part of the experience and witness what he does best at one of his 3 days boot camps that will hit Vancouver on July 9th 2010.

What can be expected?

When you sign up for one of The Asian Playboys boot camps you can expect to get an extensive 30 hours of training over the course of 3 days and 3 nights which include seminars and field training at local clubs where you get to hone the skills that you have learned from the seminars. Your performance at the club is then honed and critiqued; giving you the best odds at bringing your game up to an A game. You also get interactive drills, phone consultations and a free Bootcamp Workbook. The three day course runs just under $1000 dollars Canadian which is quite reasonable for all the material you will be receiving.

Worth checking out

While this program is meant for Asian men it is believed the guidance that is taught will work for men of any ethnicity or age. So if you are new to the pickup community or just want to brush up on your game meeting and seducing women this may be one to check out.

You can check out more about the ABC’s of Attraction and the Asian Playboy at www.abcsofattraction.com.

How To Score with Hot Babes

At a Holiday Inn Express in Addison, I went to a $300 seminar that supposedly teaches men how the female mind works. Now I’m scared for women everywhere.

Asian playboy calls me on my work line.

“This is the guy you’ve been speaking to,” he says carefully, then pauses. I pause, too. I have no idea who it is.

He speaks again: “About the group I’m involved with? The seminar?”

Of course! Asian Playboy! I’d been communicating with him via e-mail for a few days, trying to convince him to allow me to attend his workshop. He runs an outfit for dateless men called Natural Attraction, teaching The Game, a step-by-step method for scoring with hot babes (or, in The Game’s parlance, HBs). These men aspire to become pickup artists (or PUAs, pronounced “pooh-ahs”), and they pay money to learn, supposedly, how the female mind works.

Online PUA communities, called seduction lairs, can be found from here to China, claiming millions of members. The Dallas chapter is small, but Asian Playboy says that under his able leadership, it has recently tripled in size, up to 128 members. Think of it as a lonely-hearts club with a Dungeons & Dragons twist.

For this phenomenon, we can thank Neil Strauss (aka Style, because everyone uses a pseudonym in Game circles), for unleashing the secrets of sex-seeking machines into the mainstream. His book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Professional Pickup Artists, published in September 2005, spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and told of his life inside the PUA Game, living in a grotto-like frat house called Project Hollywood under the tutelage of a man named Mystery, who claims to be the greatest pickup artist in the world. Mystery, like Asian Playboy, also teaches men how to score with women. His Las Vegas “special boot camp” costs $2,750.

I wanted to infiltrate the secret society, learn the lingo, see the technique at work in the field. Asian Playboy (APB for short) was calling to find out my angle, my level of interest, and, most of all, my sincerity.

“What about meeting in the morning?” I ask Asian Playboy, looking at my calendar.

He laughs. “I don’t wake up in the morning,” he says. He suggests we meet instead at happy hour at Chaucer’s in Addison.

“How will I know who you are?” I ask.

“Wear something pink,” he says. “I’ll find you.”

CHAUCER’S IS A STEAK AND SUSHI RESTAURANT DECORATED WITH PLASTER busts of Roman characters and fake ivy. Waitresses wear a Goth fem-bot uniform of black knee-high boots, black micro-minis, and tiny black tanks. I am way overdressed, wearing clothes.

I spot the only Asian man, in the bar outside on the patio.

“Are you Asian Playboy?” I ask timidly.

“It depends,” he says. “Who’s asking?”

It is him. I can tell by the voice.

There is a man sitting next to him, a man I will know only as Captain Jack. I nod my hellos.

“So you want to attend a PUA seminar?” Asian Playboy inquires. He is sipping raspberry sake. He says if I am allowed inside The Game, I will have to adhere to certain parameters. For instance, I will not be allowed to describe the distinctive jacket he is wearing, because “everyone” recognizes the jacket and would immediately know whom I was writing about.

I agree to this term, but I tell him that I have some ground rules, too. First, I need someone inside the lair to give me a real name. They tell me that Jason “Danger” Bailey is my man. A newbie who’s been gaming for less than a year, already he has real PUA potential.

“If I were a girl, I’d sleep with him,” Asian Playboy says. This is not a joke.

The two men allow me to advance to the next phase of my approval process, which essentially involves meeting Asian Playboy’s partner in Natural Attraction, a man named Prophet, and buying them many margaritas at Primo’s on McKinney. (A PUA cardinal rule is never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, buy a woman a drink when you first meet her.) Finally, it is decided that I can attend a PUA workshop, time and place TBD. I am instructed to look for an e-mail from Asian Playboy in the next week.

When it arrives, it says, “1) The first rule of Fight Club … You do not talk about Fight Club! 2) The second rule of Fight Club … You DO NOT talk about Fight Club! 3) If this is your first night in Fight Club … you HAVE to fight.” I am to meet the lair at 4 pm at a Holiday Inn Express in Addison.

THE NATURAL ATTRACTION WORKSHOP INVOLVES FOUR HOURS of classroom time, followed by four hours of “field training” at a local club, plus individual follow-ups later that night at IHOP. The cost for the workshop is $300, alcohol and dinner at Chipotle not included.

I head to the inexplicably named Belmont Room at the Holiday Inn Express. Prophet stands at the head of the class, writing his course outline on an easel notepad. Eight guys, more than one wearing a t-shirt tucked into khakis, sit silently at the back of the room, which has a green floral carpet. Plastic cups filled with tap water sit on tables with pleated, mauve tablecloths.

“Before I teach you the basics, you’ve got to learn what it means to be human,” Prophet begins.

He asks us all to take out a piece of paper.

“I want you to write down three goals you guys have for yourself. One, what you want to do with these laws of attraction in 10 years. Two, where you want to be in one year. And, three, where you want to be tonight.”

As we write, Prophet passes out reference texts: Sexology, Why Men Love Bitches, and The Art of Seduction.

We are asked to read our goals aloud to the class. Captain Jack volunteers to go first.

Before the workshop, Captain Jack told me his story, how learning The Game transformed him. He sounded almost born-again. In the weeks and months after his divorce, he told me, he found himself lonely and unable to connect with women. “I would get all dressed up and go to bars and spend hours just drinking alone,” he said. “Later, driving home, I’d be almost in tears. I felt like such an outsider.” But today Captain Jack is a lair expert. Newbies look to him for tips on “peacocking,” an over-the-top dressing style used to attract women. Only the most confident of men are advised to attempt peacocking. Captain Jack prefers a loud shirt and an acid-washed cowboy hat.

In the workshop, he tells the class that in 10 years he hopes to be remarried, maybe adding to the kids he has from his first marriage. But, in the short term, he would really like a relationship with a bisexual woman who will pleasure him with hot threesomes.

A skinny Asian guy stands to read next. “In a year, I’d like to be where Captain Jack is now,” he tells the class.

Eventually, we get around to the basics, how The Game is actually played. Natural Attraction teaches a simple ABC process for seducing an HB: “A” stands for “approach”; “B” for “buying temperature”; “C,” “comfort”; “D,” “direct interest”; “E,” “escalate and extract”; and “F”—“F” you can imagine. APB and Captain Jack explain that it is simply a method to teach guys to be cool around women, to cut out any “creepy vibe” or “friend vibe” they may or may not know they give off.

“It’s about conveying your personality and understanding how women act and react by their body language and their responses,” Captain Jack says. “A lot of critics think we’re trying to pull the wool over women’s eyes, but that’s not it. It’s about getting to the same level of social skills as the women we are attracted to.”

“It’s not a science. It’s an art,” adds APB, smiling.

Our art lesson focuses on our night game. In other words, how to act in a nightclub to woo women: “how you chill” and how to dress, APB’s territory; how to bring a woman emotionally closer (hint: tell her a sad story involving your dead best friend), Prophet’s territory; and, most important, how to perfect the “sarge,” or how to hit on an HB. For this last one, each guy walks to the front of the class and demonstrates his opening line on me, the closest thing around to an HB.

Captain Jack tells the class that a great opener is ,“Your tits are cute.”

I frown. “There’s no way that will work,” I tell the boys.

“It worked last night,” Captain Jack says.

The guys look at me, then at Captain Jack, and without a doubt the room tilts in his favor.

I am the only woman in the Belmont Room, and no one wants my opinion on how to approach women. The irony appears lost on everyone.

The lesson continues: at stage F, a man must determine whether his conquest is an ONS (one-night stand) or LTR (long-term relationship). This stage is very tricky. That’s why Prophet teaches ways to avoid LMRs (last-minute resistances), excuses a woman has for avoiding sex. LMRs are also referred to as ASD (anti-slut defense), which is what lair Fast Seduction defines as “chick logic, to relieve the guilt from having sex too quickly with a man.”

The men in the class are silent. They are busy taking notes. After dinner at Chipotle, it will be time to change into our “sexy night-game clothes” for field training. The tension is palpable. I am scared for women everywhere.

IMAGINE A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY’S VERSION OF A GROWN-UP BAR, AND YOU’VE got a good idea of what Carsons Live in North Dallas is like. There’s music, loud and lots of it, all styles. And themed rooms and chicken wings and champagne and sexy women in miniscule outfits who dance on the bars whenever the urge strikes.

This is the setting for our field training. Asian Playboy secured in advance a VIP table for us inside the Vortex, Carsons’ dance club that spins techno remixes of “Jesse’s Girl.” I order a drink (the first of many, none of which is paid for by any PUA). Asian Playboy tells us not to hit on the waitresses because he was working that scene and has already slept with two of them and is, in fact, working on a third.

The PUAs-in-training dressed themselves. One donned an all-black suit with a banana-yellow Batman tie. Another wore a sweater that Bill Cosby wouldn’t touch.

Prophet sits beside me in a booth and points out a guy through the window separating us from the pizza-parlor part of Carsons. The obvious non-PUA is attempting to hit on the beer-cooler girl, an unseasonably tan woman with a tiny outfit so badly ripped and torn that one might assume she headed to work directly after a bear attack.

“I would try and close her, but you can’t,” Prophet says. “The club has bodyguards watching her. Anytime a guy talks to her for too long, they send a bouncer in to run him off. There’s not enough time to Game her.”

Meanwhile the newbies are going crazy. They pounce from set to set (groups of girls) with the energy of hyperglycemic junior high students, opening and closing as quickly as they can. They never sit down to chill, as they were taught.

“We don’t use lines,” Asian Playboy says. “Lines don’t work.”

Instead, the guys use openers. Asian Playboy demonstrates for me.

“Okay,” he says to a set of girls by the dance floor. “Settle a bet for me. My friend and I were just arguing about who would win in a fight, James Bond or Indiana Jones. I say James Bond.”

The set of three girls giggle outrageously, as if it is the funniest thing they have ever heard.

“Hey, that really worked,” I tell him later, amazed.

“Yeah, but those girls were dogs,” he says. “I only used them as a warm-up.”

Meanwhile I spy our 21-year-old college student newbie walking with the grace of a Storm Trooper across the room. His opener goes something like this: “Who lies more? Men or women?” When he says it, he moves his arm up and down stiffly, like an action figure. We tried to work on this during the seminar. His colleague, an Asian newbie who had driven in from Houston to learn The Game, preferred the opener, “If a girl kisses another girl, is that cheating?”

On the opposite side of the room, a Russian guy (The Vigo) isn’t having much luck and quickly becomes distraught. When Prophet returns to our table escorted by a couple of girls with bad boob jobs, I really think The Vigo might cry. I feel sorry for the guy. So I give him the pep talk of his life, telling him he is awesome and he could get any girl he wants, including the ones with boob jobs.

I grab The Vigo’s hand. “Come on,” I command. “Let’s go sarge some women.”

I take him to a table filled with girls and overhear one say the words “happy birthday.” Bingo. I tell The Vigo to give me one second to warm them up. When I give the signal, he will walk over and sing “Happy Birthday” to them. He nods, and I go to work. I speak quickly to the girl at the end of the table.

“Listen, can you just help me out?” I say. “My friend, he’s been a family friend forever, and he just sucks with girls. Can you act happy when he sings ‘Happy Birthday’? Please? It’ll make his whole night.”

When The Vigo scuttles over and squeaks out the most uncomfortable version of “Happy Birthday” I have ever heard, the nice girl smiles and claps and pretends to be charmed. And when it is over, I drag The Vigo the hell out of there. But, man, the look on his face, he is glowing. A girl smiled at him.

God bless that girl.

“Go, Vigo, go!” I think as I watch him recount the hilarious story of his conquest to his peers.

Because, look, I don’t loathe these guys. I feel sorry for them. None of them is evil, just confused. If one of them would just take up a co-ed sport, maybe get a haircut or a new pair of jeans, he’d be fine. Instead, out of desperation and loneliness, each has spent $300 to learn a bunch of acronyms.

Later in the night, as the rush of the sarge begins to wear off and the spin of alcohol sets in, Asian Playboy plops down in the red corner booth and puts his head on my shoulder. He tells me all about Prophet’s girlfriend troubles. (Yes, Prophet has a girlfriend.) Asian Playboy says the girlfriend doesn’t like Prophet to sarge, but he won’t stop. Asian Playboy says she doesn’t think they’ll last, which is sad because Prophet really believes she’s “the one.”

That’s when he starts piteously whining about his own troubles with The Game.

“I’ll never find a girl,” he tells me. “Every time I meet one, I know exactly what she’s going to do and say next.” He’s rolling his head back and forth, clearly oiled. “The Game is just too good.”

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