[caption id="attachment_6967" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="Neil Strauss (left) with the author"]
If you’re a girl and a guy in weird clothes walks up to you and says something like “Hey, looks like the party’s over here” and then proceeds to do some kind of magic trick or E.S.P test, run. Chances are you will not be able to resist his good-natured ribbing and strange magnetic charm. You will crave his attention. You will seek his approval. And when you wake up the next morning in the arms of a skinny, acne-scarred nerd, you will ask yourself what the fuck happened?
To answer that question we spoke to Neil Strauss. He wrote The Dirt
, the amazing Mötley Crüe memoir as well as books with Marilyn Manson and Jenna Jameson. He also spent a couple of years becoming a grand master of The Game, the scientific art of picking up girls. At the highpoint of his time in the pickup community, he was widely regarded as the greatest pickup artist of all time.
VICE: What is Game?
Neil Strauss: In small terms, Game is the pursuit of attraction. Attraction can be friendship, it can be a relationship, it can be a one-night stand, it could be a marriage, anything.
And it works?
Definitely. I was really horrible with women in high school. My prom date actually went home with another guy. When I went to college, I went to a school called Vassar, which was 70% women, 30% guys and half the guys were gay so the odds were pretty good. Nevertheless I had no girlfriend and no sex with anyone on campus. Then I went on tour with Mötley Crüe, with a friggin’ backstage pass, and still nothing. You know, if you’re with Mötley Crüe and you have a backstage pass and you can’t even make out with a girl, it’s pretty much over.
But you now know what you were doing wrong?
Yeah, now I could go back and redo all those things. And I kinda did at my high school reunion. I ended up being with my prom date.
That must feel pretty good, right?
Right, it’s like revenge of the nerds. Now you can go into a bar and see these big guys trying to talk to a girl and know they’re just doing it wrong — you can walk in and shoo them away. The same guys that used to pick on you at school can try and fuck with you and you can just tool them. Some guys get obsessed with this and forget that Game is about women. I understand that they just want to go out there and, like, win for once in their lives, but it’s important to remember that it’s all about the women.
Are a lot of the guys like that?
Everyone’s in it for different reasons. Some guys are in the game because they want to get married, some are in it because they’re divorced and their confidence is shot. Some guys are there because they’re virgins, others just want one night stands. Some guys are in the game because they’re gay and don’t know it yet. So everyone’s different.
So how does Game work?
Well for starters, a lot of it’s self improvement. We talk about grooming and the way you dress. Like, style wise, everyone fits into a certain tribe and a girl is most likely to go with you if you’re from her tribe, or a tribe she wants to visit. Other forms of self-improvement involve getting to the gym or taking lessons in Alexander Technique to improve posture. Some guys might even go to improv. lessons to be more interesting to talk to.
This all sounds like stuff guys can get anywhere. There must be more to it than that.
Well it’s just one aspect. Other principals include overcoming your fear of so-called rejection, as well as string theory.
That’s like when you dangle a piece of string in front of a cat and it goes crazy for it. Then, the second you drop the string and it gets it, it immediately gets bored and goes looking for something else. It’s the same with people. People want to be challenged.
And that’s where “negging” comes into the picture?
And rejection? Why shouldn’t we fear it?
Firstly, if you approach a girl at a bar and she’s not interested, she’s not rejecting you. She doesn’t even know you. She’s rejecting your approach. The Game teaches you to learn from every approach you make. For example, if you go up to a girl and she says she has a boyfriend, it means she thinks you were coming onto her. If she says she has to go to the bathroom, it means you’re being too intense. So it’s a learning thing.
But what if you’re from a really small town where there are only six eligible women?
Well, that’s maybe where the fear of rejection comes from. These days it’s not so relevant.
Why do people call you Style?
Style is my pick up artist or PUA name. Every PUA has one because a big part of the seduction community is posting stories of your nights out online. Having a pseudonym is pretty essential unless you want everyone to know what you get up to.
Did you choose Style?
No, it was given to me by a guy called Mystery
, who was sort-of my guru while I was in the community. But most people choose their own. They can get pretty weird. I think the weirdest one I’ve heard is a guy who calls himself Grave Diggler.
Yeah, it’s pretty bad.
So you say Game is about attraction. What about love? Are they the same thing.
No, you can be attracted to lots of people at the same time. My definition of love is One-itis. That’s where you’re always going on about this one girl. It’s like: this one girl this and this one girl that.
That’s what love is.
So what about relationships. Do you have a way to make those work too?
People always vilify the Game and say that one night stands are bad, but if someone fucks you over in a one night stand, like, you’re only disappointed and it kind of sucks. If someone fucks you over in a relationship and you love them, that’s where the real hurt is.
The second part of The Game is the book Rules Of The Game, which is half a ‘how to’ and half stories which sort of try to figure out relationships. It’s kind of a discussion on the dichotomy of being a guy. Like, you have two sides. One side wants a wife and kids, the other side wants to fuck everything that moves. And these sides are kind of at war, so Rules Of The Game is dealing with those two sides of being a male in a relationship.
Last question. The Game is a pretty complex system that must have taken hundreds of amazing brains decades to figure out. Isn’t that kind of a waste?
Look at it this way. When you’re on your deathbed, are you going to be thinking about your work or about the best blowjob you ever got?
Neil's new book (which I probably should have been asking him about) is called
Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life. It's out now through Text Publishing