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The Pickup Artist

The column above appeared in the print issue of Maxim Magazine, September 2020. It was also published online at the Maxim website.

Pickup artists (PUA’s) accredit sexual success with women to a number’s game.  PUA’s moonlight as authors, dating coaches and sexperts. Their online global community thrives through blogs, forums, newsletters and one-on-one coaching.  But do PUA’s pseudoscience tactics really work?  And what are the downsides of getting laid via such a cunning game?

The history of pick up artists

Pick up artistry dates back to the seventies, the decade that saw the Beatles break up and cult leader Charles Manson get sentenced along with three others.  Manuals and books such as The Art of Erotic Seduction  and How to Get the Women You Desire into Bed were released. Movies such as Magnolia and the TV seriesThe Pickup Artist turned the caper, mainstream. Enter journalist Neil Strauss with his 2005 New York Times Bestselling book The Game and the methods of the pickup artist were here to stay.

In defense of the pick up artist

Many women, (myself included) roll our eyes when we hear the term “pick up artist” but are we jumping the gun?  Could pick up artistry possibly be a positive pursuit that assists both men and women in the dating game?  The answer is a massive ‘yes’ according to pick up artist, Jon Anthony who contributes to the site Masculine Development.  

“Learning game is the process of becoming a confident, assertive, and decisive man who can effectively relate to women in a way that makes them attracted to you. In other words, learning game is fucking normal. But, because our society conditions men from a young age to be weak, sniveling beta males that don’t know how to relate to a woman, we actually have to spend time LEARNING something that should be natural. Game is basically having the correct emotional response to a woman’s actions and words. Game is knowing that women test men to see how confident they are, and knowing how to pass these tests. Game is learning to be the best version of yourself; it’s a process of self-discovery where you grow and mature emotionally as a man, so that you can relate to a woman in a healthy way. The media and mainstream “group think,” of course, completely twist this. They warp game into being some sort of Machiavellian pursuit where men learn how to use women, and they demonize the men who teach pickup as calculating, cold-hearted killers. Fundamentally, game is actually a mutually beneficial endeavor; men who pursue learning game see an increase in the quantity and quality of women in their lives, and women have more attractive men to choose from. In addition to being a win-win on a macro level, game is also a win-win on a micro level—it’s never meant to hurt or manipulate the woman you’re with, but rather to make them feel good and have fun. Game, when done effectively, actually makes a woman feel really good. Women enjoy being with a man who’s charismatic, confident, and funny. They enjoy being led around on a date or in a social interaction; they love it when a strong man can decisively guide them through life. The mainstream media, however, zooms in on the 1% of pickup artists that are manipulative psychopaths, and somehow gives everyone the idea that this is the ENTIRE pickup community, when it’s obviously not. In fact, most pickup artists that I’ve met in person are actually really, really nice guys.”

How can women spot a pick up artist?

Catching a pick-up artist at his game is not always easy for women.  Men can appear genuine when they’re not.  Below are some convincing pickup artist techniques that a lot of women fall for.

The three-second-rule

If a guy approaches a woman, immediately after locking eye contact.  He could be executing the three-second-rule, a classic pickup artist strategy to help men overcome anxiety and nervousness.

Kino escalation

Women also have to be aware of the bloke that takes your hand and twirls you around,  playful pushes, high-fives and hugs within the first few hours of meeting.  Pickup artists refer to this premature touchy-feely behaviour as ‘kino escalation’ which is the escalation of kinesthetics with a girl, from the first touch to f*cking.  The idea is to find out her boundaries and to touch her in a non-sexual way.  The end goal is to get her comfortable with physical touching and move towards getting her into bed.

Average Frustrated Chump

An average frustrated chump was coined by Pick up artist extraordinaire, Ross Jeffries in the 80s.  It’s obviously shortened to AFC and is the label given to men that are clueless and incompetent when it comes to women.  Women will find that most men are AFCs.

Facebook Close

According to a site dedicated to PUA terminology and acronyms, a facebook close is a way for pick up artists to interact with their “female target”. Because of the search bar on Facebook, you don’t have to have her personal details to add her as a friend.  Being “friends” on Facebook puts less pressure on women according to pick up artists.  And if he fails to close with his female target, there’s also potential opportunities to connect with her friends.


Negging is an insult and compliment, all-in-one.  For example:  “You have a really big arse but I think it’s sexy.”  It was first written about in Strauss’s book The Game, it’s goal is to lower the woman’s self esteem, so she then seeks validation from the man she’s just met.  It is supposed to even the power dynamics. Many men shower women with compliments on first meeting them, which puts them up on a pedestal, according to pick up artists, this makes women think that you’re soft.

Statement of intent

Women should most certainly watch out for the ‘statement of intent’ which is scripted dialogue pick up artists use when their verbal or physical attempts cause you discomfort.  “Sorry I’m a touchy-feely person” he may say after inappropriately touching your leg.  This statement of intent is meant to show that he understands how he has made you feel, it’s used to build faith and confidence, so you don’t immediately give him the flick.

Social proof

If he’s flirting with another woman or the barmaid serving you, he may be practicing pick up artist tricks to show you his worth via social proof.  Women are often attracted to men who are desired by other women, so he could be trying to let you know how desired he is, out in the world.

So it seems the jury is out on pick up artists.  Are they manipulative and misogynistic psychopaths who get a boner playing and using women?  Or are they just “nice guys” trying to lift their “game” and get laid?

Pick up artist Jon Anthony tries to convince us that it’s definitely the latter: 

The average man hates pickup artists, because he’s too scared shitless to admit that he lacks game and that he’s a bitch. The average woman hates pickup artists, because she thinks that they’re manipulative (until they game her and change her mood, that is). Don’t let these people sway you from the path, however—learning game will change you as a man, regardless of your age or circumstances.