All photos by Tom Johnson
It's no secret that pick-up artists are the pits. Many of them think they are part of some elite secret society, but it seems unlikely that the London Seduction Society has ever turned anyone away from their closed forum. After discovering their website, I sent a generic description of myself over—focusing on the most desperate and socially awkward points of my character—then sat back and waited for my secret password to arrive.
Which it inevitably did, thanks to the moderators Adrian, Fistboy, and London Hunk. Once I’d managed to crack the site and force my way into the mainframe, I found pretty much everything you’d expect from a bunch of guys who enjoy sitting around talking about how to hassle girls: Pictures of successful missions were uploaded in all their spittle-ridden camera phone glory and "field reports" (charming rundowns of each technique) were being filed religiously.
By the way, they’ve also coined a fucking language. If you suspect you may be susceptible to the charms of a PUA, watch out for some of these terms:
Daygame: Daygaming is when a group of hypno-freaks decide to hit Oxford Circus at 12:30 PM and Fuck Shit Up. By which I mean Attempt To Bully Some Strangers Into Sex Using Mind Games.
AFC: Average Frustrated Chump
BF Destroyer: The Boyfriend Destroyer is a routine that PUAs use to imply that their target’s boyfriend is a cad and a loser. Oh, irony.
Bitchshield: This is what PUAs call the mindset women have when they react negatively to being harrassed in public.
I thought it would be funny and depressing to join them on what they call the “Saturday Sarge.” A sarge is when a group of morons roam around looking for girls to annoy. Sounds gr8 right?
Oh dear. I was kind of expecting this to be a tiny event, but at least 30 PUAs-in-training showed up. It turns out the world we live in is one where this many single men think women need to be subconsciously coerced into having sex with them. Depressing. Anyway, standing outside a dreary Marks & Spencers surrounded by salivating sexual hypnotists isn’t a nice way to spend your weekend, so just be thankful I did it for you. Also, female humans, avoid this area at around one o'clock on a Saturday at ALL costs. We were given a couple of speeches from the pros and then split into groups, each with their own "coach."
This is Adam. There was a hell of a lot of bullshit emanating from Adam’s trendy roll-cum-V neck sweater as he tried to get our group riled up. Getting everyone to shout "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" and wave their hands in the air seemed to do it. I guess a birthday party is kind of a decent cover for loitering, harassing, and generally disturbing anyone with breasts. "Hey, sorry love, it's my birthday, I'm just hoping it's my lucky day as well ;)" etc. etc. vom etc. After that we were whittled into even smaller groups and told to hit the streets with a mentor. Dave [pictured below] was mine. He really likes wearing gray. I kind of hope there’s a pseudo-psychological reasoning behind his decision to wear all that gray. Something to do with being rock hard? Some kind of 50 Shades of Grey subliminal erotic programming? Could be anything.
Anyway, for some reason he let me mic him up and off he went into the throng. You can listen to him doing his smooth talking thing right here:
Boner alert, right ladies?
You know what’s completely fucking ridiculous? He found this girl, spouted some stomach curdling nonsense, and actually got her number. After the “this is a bit random” and “you look dolled-up to the nines,” which would have had any girl I know in fits of laughter and a mile and a half away before he could say, “I’ll take you to T.G.I. Friday's,” she actually went for it.
I don’t know what to say other than if anyone approaches you on Oxford Street and asks for your number, chances are they’re either a serial killer, or a pick-up artist secretly wearing a mic. Neither of whom are people to give your personal details to. Anyway, this encouraged the other guys so much that they were still hyped by the time we reached our destination for the Night Game.
And look who we found waiting for us.
Yes, it's VICE Pretty Girl Bullshit columnist Bertie! Over to you, Bert.
Bertie: Hi! How is everyone? Obviously I couldn’t stay away long when the possibility of a pick-up artist bloodbath was on the cards. With the scent of fresh sleazeball in my nostrils, I made my way over to legendary London nightlife establishment Tiger Tiger, ready to catch some predators.
I was hanging around the smoking area trying not to laugh, when suddenly there was one in my face. Except, well, he was the least "in my face" anyone’s ever been. This PUA-in-training seemed to be magnetically repelled by my physical presence, but still, for some reason, made his best efforts to splutter through a monologue about how he got fired last week and is still coming to terms with unemployment. Dark.
I assumed I'd feel scared (or possibly hypnotized) by these men, but there was absolutely nothing threatening about this guy, only a profound tang of sadness and insecurity. This was emphasized by a jaunty eyebrow piercing sitting absurdly above one of the glummest expressions I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. His inability to communicate on a basic level was just really depressing and, as tempted as I was to wait around and see if he’d put the moves on me, I cut loose and moved on—playing these suckers at their own game.
Next up was a guy in a candy stripe shirt with the expression of a friendly cartoon horse. You know a great way to spend your Saturday night? Seeing if you can get hypnotized into bed by a 19-year-old outside Tiger Tiger! FUN!!!
He was chatty—much too chatty—but I let it go. The sort of inane shit he was blasting into my personal space included “My job is to say hey to people, so I say hey!” Fucking mindblowing. There was also a not OK amount of awkward shoulder touching. Although it wasn't traditional touching, it was more like placing a hand, rigid with awkwardness, on my shoulder for a few seconds at a time while I stared daggers in response.
I recognized some of the classic PUA moves I’d learned from a previous PGB article, including an emphasis on saying things like: “We should go there” and “I’ll take you there.” There was a creepy amount of “OK, I love you,” and gut-wrenching, awkward observational stuff like: “You’re wearing a lot of rings!” whenever the conversation ran dry (which was always).
What I realized during our brief encounter was that PUAs ask you shitloads of questions purely because they know that if they stop talking you might mistake them for an ugly coat rack. Here’s a tip for everyone everywhere: forcing people to have stilted and awkward conversations with you is annoying, not sexy.
Interested in psychology? Watch an Adam Curtis film. Interested in fucking? Throw away those unforgivable shoes. Easy.
PGB 2 – PUA 0.