William is the guy sitting third from the left in this picture. He's also the first man to hit on me in 2016, and he's my first kiss of the new year. As well as my second. And third. And... you get the picture. William is part of a group of British guys who travel thousands of miles across the pond just to get laid. On New Year's Eve, they went to San Diego on their international pickup tour, and I went with them. San Diego was an atypical place for them, as they'd made a tradition of following a model I'd compare to a plotline from the film Love Actually: go to a bumblefuck college town in America, impress girls with their British accents, and have as much sex as possible. Frustratingly enough, this plan was working its magic, and shamefully enough, it was working on me.
"I don't fuck my stories," I told William.
At this, William balked: "Who says I'm trying to fuck you?" Well, for one, his friends did, as one of them was making penetration motions with his hands to me behind William's head. On top of that, that was the entire point of their trip. Though this was William's first foray into anglophile-baiting sex tourism, his friends Dan, Carl, and Chris had fucked their way through several college towns, including Auburn, West Chester, Syracuse, Tuscaloosa, and Tempe, all trading off the basic assumption that British dudes are more attractive than American ones. Their operation has proven effective: the Auburn student newspaper wrote about the fact that they came to the town at all, which should give you an idea of how excited some American women are at the prospect of simply interacting with them.
In the 12 hours we spent together from 10 PM on New Year's Eve to a very hungover ride back to Los Angeles International Airport the next morning, I saw three naked girls in the flesh and heard tales of run-ins with Ron Jeremy, a British pornstar, and angry parents who tried to assault Chris for sleeping with their daughter in the middle of a forest in Pennsylvania. I spent the entire evening with them, yelling over a crowded table of several women competing for their bottle service, watching over the aftermath the next morning in their hotel suites (after all but William had gotten laid; William and I "snogged and cuddled," as Chris put it, adding that it made him feel nauseous), and riding along in the car during their last moments in the States.
I talked with girls who called themselves sluts for sleeping with them, but never once heard the guys talk down about their entire operation. They were adamant about not being cast as pickup artists in my story. But they readily admitted to lying to girls when they met them, saying they were writers from the British GQ, or the entire band the Arctic Monkeys. And even when they didn't, they were still using their accents to get pussy. Their very presence in these places seems to be the neg: we're here, we sound cooler than that guy you fucked last week, and we'll give you a more interesting story to tell than anything you could drum up in this town. Perhaps if every pickup artist had a British accent, a boarding pass, and a current passport, they wouldn't have to resort to traditional negging.
Here's our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity:
VICE: Why do you think it's so easy for you to hook up with girls in the United States?
Chris: Well we have a joke that girls in like, middle America are just like, "Help, help!" about the men here. You go to West Virginia to any bar and see what you're up against.
Carl: Backwards cap, sneakers.
Chris: They wear hunting jackets out to the bar!
Dan: We wear our street clothes out, casual clothes, and birds are like "Oh, you look so nice! You're dressed up!"
William: Girls give me a lot of credit for the name William here, even, they're like, "Oooh, it's so English!" It's as easy as an accent and a name.
The aftermath. Photo by the author
Have you seen Love Actually? Who came up with your plan to come here and do this, and when did it start?
Dan: About two years ago, I did. Other people come, my brother and that. This is William's first trip with us. We just thought, and not based on that movie, but in general, "Why go to Vegas and make things hard?" Everyone there is trying to show off, money and that.
Chris: But in America in, say, Arizona, or wherever, it's absolute nothingness! You know, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, it's forest for miles.
Carl: It's that pull. That pull of being foreign, of being English, that's a big pull here.
Chris: Right. Like, Alabama is the best place!
William: A British accent is nothing [in San Diego,] but middle America? It's the best tool in the world.
What was the first city you guys went to? How was that successful enough to keep coming back?
Chris: West Virginia, where the university is. Morgantown. One of the girls, she's from New Jersey, she came to mine this year for Christmas. I mean, we were in the sorority houses, taking pictures with the, what do you call them?
Carl: The letters! Anchors. They've got the big anchor and all the silly Greek things and that.
Chris: Right. It was like, mad. The girls all wanted to go out with us, ask us about England, imitate our accents, get us to say words—
Dan: Oh, that's the fucking worst! If I hear one more girl do a British accent, mate.
Chris: But it was just mad. Of course when you realize you can get treated like, near a celebrity here for no reason, you're going to keep coming back. So we do, we bring more guys along, everyone has a great time. The girls want photos, they want videos, they want to tell their friends. It's like, us and them, we're providing each other with an experience. A story.
Dan: Everyone has fun. No harm to it.
Don't you get tired of that, or feel cheap?
Dan: No. There's no lying apart from fun lying, like white lies. Sometimes we'll say we're writers from British GQ and that we're here to write a story about how women date and party in the U.S. You know: "What are your names? Are you single? Oh yeah, OK, can we ask you some questions? Are you going out later? Where? Oh, is that fun? Lot of girls there? Can we tag along, see what it's like, you know, sociologically?"
Chris: And we have fake names, sometimes. To play it up. Archie, Harry, Ramsey. Will hasn't got one. Picture this: you're in Alabama, and girls are like, what're your names? And we're like, Archie, Cecil, Ramsey, Danny. They're like "awww!" like we've just brought out a small animal! All girls love the name Archie. Sometimes we're in a band. We say, "I play the guitar" and play 'em the Arctic Monkeys and they say, "Oh, you're so good! You've got two million plays on Spotify!" Or, I have this tattoo of three stars. I say each star represents a fallen brother, cause I'm a firefighter.
Chris's arm tattoos, which do not represent his dead friends. Photo by the author
Is that true?
William: It's bollocks!
Chris: But who cares? They don't know. It's harmless.
When you guys were going to the southern states, like Alabama, or West Virginia, in these bars, what was that like compared to San Diego?
Chris: Super different. You can be the center of attention. So, we talk really loud. Yell across, "Oi, Dan, what are we doing later?" That's when you see them crane their necks, and that's when you look at them and say something like, "Oh, I didn't know there were Victoria's Secret models in Alabama!" Something cheesy. I'm the sacrificial lamb, like, every time. I embarrass myself and then the other guys come in and pick up the pieces. Next thing you know, they're coming home for Christmas. I mean, I'm literally average. Everyone says I look like Michael Cera! Google it! I do! But I'll speak to every girl here, same game. I know a stat about every state and every movie.
How are American girls different than other girls?
Chris: American girls are so friendly. For example, I'm in West Chester, Pennsylvania, going to get my hair cut. I'm chattin' up the hair dresser, she asks me to come out with her for the night. I'm like "brilliant!" She brings me out, she's like, "This is my mom! This is my dad!" I'm thinkin, "Yeah, I'm gonna get my fuckin' greencard!" Then she walks me over to this guy like, this fuckin' geezer with a potbelly and she's like, "this is my boyfriend!" That would never happen in England! Girls wouldn't think I wanted to go out with them to meet their family! But it happens all the time!
How do you feel about pickup artists?
Chris: We're not [pickup artists]. We're like, fun-loving English people having a good time. We don't fuck anyone over.
Dan: Right. We all have regular professions. I mean, this is tourism. We just do it more regularly.
How many American girls have you slept with? Each?
Carl: Oh, I don't keep track.
Dan: Yeah, I don't think any of us have. I couldn't tell you how many in the last three months.
Chris: I mean, A lot.
William: Oh, like, five. Only.
How long are you going to do this for? 'Til you fall in love?
Chris: To be honest, I just take it a day as it comes. I don't like, plan my life. I don't plan on what's going to happen on these trips.
Do you tell anyone you do this?
Chris: Yeah. Everyone at work knows.
Dan: We keep a low profile, though. We have real lives. We don't wanna be judged.
Chris: My parents know I do well.
Have you ever had a girlfriend in all this?
Chris: When I went to Athens, Georgia. I was really good! I behaved. After we broke up, I went on spring break in Panama City. Nine girls. Five days.
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