Tricks from a pickup artist
A pro taught a TONY writer the tools of the trade-and then the "targets" had their say.
Mon May 31 2010
Pickup artist Jeff Allen
For some, picking up women is a pastime. For Jeff Allen, an instructor for Real Social Dynamics (realsocialdynamics.com), it's an art form—and a job. Allen penned an expos on the pickup world, Nine Ball, and his company will feature a guest speaker at this week's 2010 Dating Conference (78 Fifth Ave between 13th and 14th Sts, eighth floor; datingconference2010.com; Fri 4--Sun 6; $377), a gathering of pickup artists.
For some, picking up women is a pastime. For Jeff Allen, an instructor for Real Social Dynamics (realsocialdynamics.com), it's an art form—and a job. Allen penned an expos on the pickup world, Nine Ball, and his company will feature a guest speaker at this week's 2010 Dating Conference (78 Fifth Ave between 13th and 14th Sts, eighth floor; datingconference2010.com; Fri 4--Sun 6; $377), a gathering of pickup artists. "More than 60 percent of my boot-camp clients get laid," says Allen, but he insists the training he gives men isn't only about sex. "I'm on a fucking jihad against insecurity," he says. "Men think women want looks or money. But women like you for you." Get girls by being yourself? We decided try his lady-catching techniques—and let the "targets" grade our game.
TECHNIQUE At Brass Monkey (55 Little W 12th St between Tenth Ave and Washington St; 212-675-6686, brassmonkeybar.com), my first boot-camp mission was to approach a cute blond at the end of the bar by serenading her with a cheesy '80s song. Seems toolish, but Allen disagrees: "You're being logical," he said. "Dating is about emotion, not logic. Emotions are contagious."
EXECUTION Karen, 28, hails from Peru and is a recent law-school graduate. I walked up and sang, "Purple rain, purple rain!" I felt like a Bellevue escapee, but she didn't flee. I talked faster, words rushing out like machine-gun fire: "Hey, nice to meet you, I love Prince, how's it going..."
RESULT Karen dismissed me with a polite "Nice meeting you." Rejected! I was free to reveal my pickup assignment: "You were pushy, too persistent and creepy," she said. "Let a girl breathe." She was right. Lesson learned: Slow your speech, and make the interaction a dialogue, not a monologue.
TECHNIQUE At the dim, candlelit Gaslight (400 W 14th St at Ninth Ave; 212-807-8444, gaslightnyc.com), Allen told me to approach a girl on a sofa and touch her—playfully, not creepily—within the first minute. "Getting physical tells a girl you're interested," he says. "High-five her, hug her, throw your arm around her shoulder." Otherwise, you're headed for the friend zone.
EXECUTION While Allen occupied her friend, I was able to talk to—and touch—Elena, 21, a quick-witted girl with a hint of Brooklyn accent. We had instant chemistry, heightened by my flirty touching and, yes, high-fiving. She leaned into me. Within minutes we held hands.
RESULT I sheepishly revealed my assignment. How'd I do? "A-plus," she said, a little shaken. She felt duped, and I don't blame her. "It didn't feel like a pickup," she said. "It was like we were hitting it off. It felt real." It was. Allen further explained the technique: "The longer you wait to touch, the weirder it is when you do," he says.
Befriend the friend
TECHNIQUE When you approach a girl with a friend, engage them both. "She can help you or destroy you," Allen says.
EXECUTION At Pianos (158 Ludlow St between Rivington and Stanton Sts; 212-505-3733, pianosnyc.com), I met both Yafen—a shy 24-year-old who works in real-estate—and her buddy. "You guys look friendly," I said to both. I soon asked her friend for permission to talk to Yafen, and the friend happily left us alone.
RESULT Yafen gave me her e-mail address, later admitting, "You were intense but funny, so why not? It was weird but fun." Allen's point about emotions being contagious was sinking in.
TECHNIQUE It takes Liberty Bell--size balls to approach a beautiful woman, look her in the eyes, and say, "You're gorgeous"—especially if there's a chance she has a boyfriend on the premises. That's why the direct approach works: "It shows you're brave," Allen says. "Women want men who speak their mind."
EXECUTION I saw Delphine, 24, a French graduate student visiting New York with some fellow Parisians, mostly men who considered me the enemy. "You're absolutely adorable," I told her sincerely. "Thank you," she said, blushing. We grabbed a seat and talked. She hadn't noticed me before, but my approach set me apart. We flirted for awhile before a protective countryman swooped in, saying, "She has a boyfriend in France." Interesting, she never mentioned him.
RESULT "I liked the way you walked up," Delphine told me. "You were a gentleman, but not afraid. Many times, men watch but do nothing. If I did not have a boyfriend..."
I scored one phone number, one e-mail address, and I never once told a lie. As Allen saw it, the girl who rejected me offered the night's best lesson. "A guy who's good with women gets rejected a lot," he said. "He's like the boutique coffee shop that some people hate—it's arrogant, too many hipsters. But the [people] who love it really love it because it's authentic, and they can't get enough."