New year, new friends

By JT Tran

It’s New Year’s Eve, and this must be Jerry Trần’s kind of night.

People in festive moods at parties or in local watering holes. Men and women hoping to share a midnight kiss with someone who could turn in to that special someone in 2010.

Somewhere out there tonight in this big world is a man, or two, or a dozen, or a few hundred, trained by Trần — better known as J.T., even better known as the Asian Playboy — to meet women.

”People are hooking up in every city, in every bar, in every club,” he said. ”They are the equivalent of a stock market. They have buyers, they have sellers. It’s not that difficult so long as you understand the basic principles. First and foremost is that you’re willing to try. The thing a lot of shy guys lack is being willing to try, put that first foot forward.

”They don’t even put themselves out there. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

About two months ago, the story idea came across my computer screen. Why don’t you, the publicist said, write a story about the Asian Playboy?

I did a bit of research and agreed, setting up a phone interview. After doing more research in advance of the telephone date, squeamishness set in. Maybe this topic — meeting women, dating, sex appeal — wasn’t that appropriate for a family publication.

Still, I recognized the value of J.T.’s story.

He was a college graduate, an aerospace engineer raised in Texas who excelled in his job but was lonely without a supportive female at his side. He studied the work of a man nicknamed ”Mystery,” a self-described pickup artist who taught others how to meet women.

Who among us hasn’t looked for companionship, friendship and love? Despite some discomfort with some comments on his Web site, I decided to tell his story to our readers and let them learn about J.T. and his focus teaching other Asian men to meet women, then draw their own conclusions. He did, after all, fit the description of people whom we frequently feature on these pages: young, Vietnamese American, filling a niche in the world.

I told him before our conversation that we needed to keep it G-rated since some of the content on his Web site ventures into the adult-only. Gracious, he understood.

We chatted for nearly an hour.

J.T. didn’t set out to become the Asian Playboy. It kind of just happened.

Building on what he had learned from Mystery, about five years ago, he put himself out there. It was trial and error, but he had some successes meeting the opposite sex. Online, he describes himself as an ”average-looking Asian man” who has ”become the object of desire to countless gorgeous women.”

He decided to start a blog, sharing his thoughts on meeting women.

”It acquired a following among the Asian American community,” he said. ”Back then, there was nothing like this at all. There were no stories about Asian men being successful” on the dating scene.

Men started to offer to pay him to share his secrets.

By this time, he had ventured into the real estate business, as well, but still didn’t feel just right in his career worlds.

”We emphasize education in order to be able to support ourselves,” he said. ”At the same time, it’s not a true statistic toward wealth or happiness.”

He decided to take his jump toward happiness, starting his business, ”The ABCs of Attraction.” Year-round, and in cities around the world, he offers boot camps to teach men the ways to meet women. It isn’t just pickup lines that work, but rather methods for men to build confidence, he said.

While there are a variety of boot camps, a three-day, three-night session is typical. In that time, men get 30 hours worth of training, including seminars, lectures and interactive drills. Trips to local hotspots allow them to practice what they learn in class.

The cost? For the session that begins Friday in Los Angeles, it’s $875, though J.T. gives discounts to those who register early. The price varies depending on the length of the workshop a man attends, as well as the city. Fees can well exceed $1,000. So far for 2010, boot camps are set in cities from Chicago to London, Seattle to Sydney, Toronto to Boston — and more.

Mystery, the man, took the mystery out of meeting women for J.T., who said he had tried all of the conventional methods — speed dating, Internet dating, blind dates. Mystery taught the right words to say. J.T. has figured out how make his training more holistic, guiding men to project confidence.

Part of that confidence is gained when a man who attends one of his camps applies new techniques in the field. It’s tough to try it out in a social circle, where a rejection could put you in an awkward position with friends. Nighttime is the perfect time.

”Day is more harsh on newbies. The fact is that any kind of confidence mistakes are very glaring,” he said. ”You don’t have all these bright lights and flashing disco ball and people dancing. You’re never going to see her again, right? It’s a way out there to protect one’s ego….If you don’t have social skills, where are you going to learn social skills? You don’t want to try it at work.”

Men, J.T. said, need to learn to face their anxieties and confront their fears. So what if they don’t have the greatest looks. So what if they are too short, too chubby, too something. Attraction, he said, comes from eye contact, self-confidence, good body language.

And sometimes, that’s tough for Asian men to do, he said.

”It’s like the Asian poker face,” he said. ”Some Asians are used to not emoting at all.”

And J.T., who said he’s in his early 30s and not married and is casually dating, is proof of just what Asian men can accomplish, he said.

”I’m the short Asian guy, and I can go up to almost any girl and get her instantly attracted to me,” he said.

He speaks from experience as to the changes a man can make.

”To me, it would have been great if girls had thought I was good looking,” he said. ”If I’m not going to be tall, dark and handsome, let me be short, stunning and smooth… Girls will give a guy a chance if he displays confidence. He can be attractive to a woman if he’s intelligent, funny or articulate.”

Part of the problem Asian men might have meeting women is that there are not really Asian icons to follow. There is no Asian George Clooney or Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.

”There are no role models in real life or in Asian media showing what it’s like to be a successful man,” said J.T., whose own father was a police officer who spent time in a reeducation camp in Việt Nam. ”We don’t have anyone to say I should act like him.”

J.T. said his business is about more than just making money.

”There’s something very satisfying knowing I’m accomplishing something that’s helping a lot of people,” he said. ”It’s really nice seeing these boys grow into men.”

I hang up the phone and ponder our conversation.

I do believe what he said — he does take pride in helping men, even though I recognize the income must be good. He has been named the world’s greatest pickup artist — there apparently is such a title — and it is not up to me to judge his job.

I’ll let you be the judge. If you’d like to learn more about the Asian Playboy, visit his Web site at Some of the content, of course, is geared toward mature readers.