Books in Review

By Pamela Mortimer


The Game

Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

By Neil Strauss


This book has guts…mostly because it’s a true story. Neil Strauss, New York Times Bestselling Author, ditches his workaday life and delves into the seductive and often seedy world of pickup artists. Mind you, Strauss doesn’t have a boring life to begin with - at least from the casual observer’s point of view. Formerly a music critic for The New York Times and writer for Rolling Stone, Strauss has had close contact with some big names in the entertainment industry. Mentioned in the book are Tom Cruise, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and most notably, Courtney Love.


It all starts with an innocent phone call. Strauss was contacted by a book editor to check out the underground hit “The How-to-Lay-Girls Guide” with the intention that Strauss reorganize and fashion its seduction techniques into a comprehensive “how-to” book. Although it’s not Strauss’ style to “give advice to horny adolescents”, he checks it out anyway. It was lust at first site. He is so intrigued with the guide and its counterculture that he dives in head first. Eventually, he shells out $500 to attend a Basic Techniques workshop on seduction and is firmly hooked from there on out.


Strauss, suddenly desperate to shed his AFC (Average Frustrated Chump) persona, renames himself “Style”. An eager student, Style ends up being partnered with the workshop’s infamous instructor, Mystery. Mystery (AKA Erik Von Markovik) is a Canadian wannabe magician with delusions of grandeur. Not only does he learn and embrace all of the master pickup techniques that a pasty faced computer geek would kill for; he invents some of his own. And, almost against his will, he becomes a mentor…and a legend.  


Mystery is one of the main driving forces behind the modern PUA (Pick Up Artist) movement. He runs Mystery’s Lounge, a secret internet lair that allows others to learn his techniques, become something to women other than wallpaper, and basically, live vicariously through him. Mystery eventually turns his technique, the “Mystery Method”, into a lucrative business that specializes in selling multimedia based on modern seduction. The Game shows Mystery as he really is, inside and out of “the community”: visionary, modern seductionist, magician, illusionist, and oddly loyal friend. Too bad he goes mental (more than once).


Many of the techniques found in The Game are based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP was developed in 1973 by Richard Bandler and John Grinder as a set of models and principles to describe the relationship between mind (neuro), language (linguistic, both verbal and non-verbal) and how the interaction can be organized (programming) to affect an individual's mind, body, and behavior. While many people use NLP as a self-help tool to achieve goals and recover from trauma, The Game uses it in an entirely different way. Using tried and true NLP skills, the PUAs know exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to develop behaviors to sway even the most resistant targets. It’s manipulation at its best.


The Game is rife with seductionist lingo and acronyms: PUA, AFC, HB (Hot Babe), IOI (Indicator of Interest), AMOG (Alpha Male of the Group), LJBF (Let’s Just Be Friends), and many, many more. Almost too many, really. Fortunately, for those who have short term memory issues, there is a glossary to keep up on the entire pickup vernacular.


As with almost everything, obsession with the prize (women) eventually overshadows all reality. An immense number of people disconnect from family and friends – and the world, really - to become part of “the community”. Behaviors turn 180 degrees almost instantly. Computer geeks become players; wallflowers become the most dynamic and outrageous men in the room. From the birth of Style to the creation and destruction of Project Hollywood – a mansion where AFCs come to learn and often, live – The Game will make you gasp, laugh, and wonder how the hell they get away with what they do. As you might imagine, it’s like watching a disturbingly attractive train wreck.


Strauss’ other works include: The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell with Marilyn Manson; The Dirt with Mötley Crüe; How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale with Jenna Jameson; Don't Try This At Home with Dave Navarro; and soon to be released: How to Make Money Like a Porn Star. For more info on his books, appearances and PUA techniques, visit