Pick-up Artist

A curious girl’s ethnographic quest for stimulation, knowledge and the least common denominator…
(originally published on Austinist.com)

Okay, Wendy, you’ve rehearsed this. You are Sam. Sam Johnson. Samantha. You’re here to learn the fine art of picking up women. You’re curious. You’re a fan. You saw him on YouTube.

I was limping to the Driskill in the rain giving myself a pep talk. My broken foot and frizzy hair were throwing a wrench in my feigned persona.

I’d signed up for Adam Lyons’ Free Pick-Up Artist Boot Camp online, and I had figured I’d use a gender-neutral name and make up my story later. But it was crunch time.

The doorman gave me directions to the room without even asking for a secret handshake.

I found it and was greeted by a man wearing shiny pants.

“Is this the, um, Pick-Up Artist Boot Camp?” I asked.

“Yes…” the shiny-pantsed man said. “I’m Adam Lyons.”

There was a tinge of your vagina’s presence is unexpected in his expression, but he reached out and shook my hand warmly. He was… charming.

I gulped.

“I’m Wendy,” I blurted out. Dammit. “I write for the Austinist, and I was wondering if I could sit in with you guys?”

The bleachers rang out: ‘Choke! Choke!’

“Of course! Thanks for coming!” he said, still shaking my hand. “Let me introduce you to my wife…”

He pointed to the supermodel-esque woman standing behind the camera at the back of the room. I guess the proof was in the pudding.

On his website, AL claims his techniques ‘will get you supermodel quality women no matter your looks, age, income or nationality… even if you’re ugly, broke, short, fat, dumb, or old…’ I should note, however, that AL is attractive, young, British and most likely pretty loaded.


I took a seat in the back row and scanned the room. I was disappointed- or at least a bit surprised. Most of the guys looked normal. In fact, some of them were downright attractive. No droolers, no hunchbacks… not even one trenchcoat wearer. And it was raining outside.


AL began his presentation, “A lot of the topics I’m going to be talking about don’t strictly apply to men picking up women. This is all about selling yourself… You need her to give you five minutes of her time.”


He began by explaining the foot in the door sales technique.


In great detail, he described a number of ways to get one’s metaphorical foot in a girl’s metaphorical door:

  • Approach mixed gender groups
  • Talk to the guy in the group first
  • Get him to introduce you to his friends
  • And so on


If you want to know all of them, I suggest you on Adam Lyons’ website

I’ll move on.


After you have her attention, you have to get compliance. This simply means you have to get her to do something you ask her to do. Nothing big. Something like following you to the bar or playing along with a stupid game or letting you read her palm. Little stuff.


Everything AL said made sense. I was right there with him. But then he started talking about conversation andcommonalities


“Of course every guy wants a girl who likes to play video games and talk about sports, right?” he said. “But you can’t go out and talk to a girl about those things. She won’t give you five seconds…”


Uh-oh. Statements like this usually end with Wendy in tears…


“You have to talk to her about what she wants to talk about.”


Post Modernism? Early Radio Advertising? Greg Maddux? Andre Agassi? Piero Manzoni? The Wire? The Muppets?


I held my breath. I covered my eyes with my hand. I looked through my fingers scary movie style.


“Shoes,” AL, the man in the shiny pants, said.


I let out a silent existential scream.


But he didn’t stop there. Apparently purses and expensive jackets are heterosexual-female-friendly conversation topics, as well.


Uh, yeah, totally.


Now I do have to give Mr. Lyons credit. He promptly acknowledged that this doesn’t work on all women. In fact, he went so far as to say it won’t work on 25% of them.


“You might be thinking 25% is a lot,” he told us. “But you know what that means? It means it will work on 75%of the women out there. Those are pretty good odds.”


Then it was time for an exercise. With a partner.


AL told us to practice following a Question, Statement, Statement pattern of conversation- because it’s not enough to ask a girl questions. You have to comment on her answers, too. Easy enough, right?




Unfortunately, the cute guy across the aisle was already paired up. I was left with, well, not the brightest guy in the room.


“So are you a full-time journalist?” he asked me.


“No, I do graphic design,” I told him.


I could almost hear him counting in his head: Question… Statement… so wait… oh yeah…


“You do graphic design,” he stated, emphasizing his non-interrogative inflection.


“Yeah. What do you do?”


“I work with CAD,” he stated.


“Oh! I used to work with CAD folks in an old job of mine. What sort of stuff do you do?”


“Wait, I’m supposed to ask you the question now,” he corrected me.


Right… God forbid we engage in a real conversation…


“Oh yeah. Go ahead.”


“Do you like music?” he asked.


Uh, nice flow, guy.


“Yes. I play guitar. Do you play anything?”


“It’s my turn to make a statement now,” he answered.


And so on.


It was then that I realized something very important: Some of these guys needed real help, and AL was kind of doing a service… not only to the men, but also to women everywhere who are tired of being hit on by clueless guys.


I mean, AL’s top secret methods for getting women to practically BEG to have sex with you almostimmediately really weren’t going to work for my conversation partner. Period. But, he just might learn how to get one very special woman to sleep with him… eventually.


And so far, what we’d learned really wasn’t ominous:

  • Get a woman to pay attention to you
  • Test a little to see if she’s interested
  • Sustain conversation
  • Listen to what she’s saying


After lunch, AL covered the topic of dancing. According to him, women go to bars to dance, and men go to bars to pick up women.


“You’ve gotta have game on the dance floor,” AL said. “You don’t need great moves, but you do have to be able to keep a beat.”


He told us all to stand up. I looked around. I stood.


He instructed us to clap on the beat. He started and we all joined in, clapping in unison.


“Great. Everyone seemed fine with that. Now let’s move on. I want you to step to the right on the first beat, and the left on the second beat.”


We all clapped and swayed together. We were totally bonding.


Apparently that’s all you need to be able to do to not look like an idiot on the dance floor, but if you can’t do that, AL said you need to find a wall or a pole and lean against it. That way, you can wave and talk to women on the dance floor without having to make a fool of yourself.


I might suggest going to a bar where people aren’t dancing, but hey, he’s the expert.


We sat back down.


He then told us about what he called justified touching. Apparently there are places you cannot touch a girl when you first meet her. In case you didn’t know this, I’ll list a few:

  • Breasts (AL noted that if they’re fake, sometimes she’ll let you)
  • Ass (unless you’re on a dance floor)
  • Forehead or hands (because only fathers and boyfriends touch those)
  • Stomach (duh)
  • Shoulders (muggers/purse-grabbers do that).


“The best place is the forearm or the back of the hand,” he told us. That is a justified touch. “When you first meet someone, try to get in as many justified touches as you can.”


He demonstrated on his wife a non-creepy way to get in a lot of touches really quickly.


The idea is that the more you get her used to touching you, the less awkward it’ll be when you put the moves on her. You start with the forearm and back of the hand, and you move on, slowly, to more serious touches.


He emphasized that it’s important to touch quickly. If you think too much, it becomes awkward. Do first, analyze later.


Then we moved on to logistics. Once you have compliance and touching and commonalities, you have to have a plan for where you will do the deed at the end of the night.


“Logistics will kill you,” he said.


He ran through one set he’d used on dates in the past:


  1. Eat lunch (he pays)
  2. Eat dessert (she pays)
  3. Do some justified touching
  4. Walk across the street to Virgin Megastore
  5. Buy DVD
  6. Do more justified touching
  7. Go to his apartment to watch DVD (TV is strategically placed in bedroom)
  8. Sit on bed to watch TV
  9. Bam…



So later that night, the boot camp attendees met up at a club to test their skills in the field. I decided to accompany them.


The place was loud and packed with girls in tiny dresses. The men’s shirts were shiny. I was the only girl in the entire place wearing glasses. You know, it was that sort of club. Perfect.


I finally found the group and was immediately whisked away by one guy. He was drunk, and he needed a wing-girl (remember: mixed-gender groups are key to successfully getting one’s foot in the door).


We walked around eyeing groups of scantily clad women. They were everywhere. Tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, skinnier ones…


My New Friend chose a group of hot women standing in a circle. Apparently he’d not been taught to look for wedding rings or lurking husbands, as these women had both.


“Aw… your friend is so cute…” the married women told me.


“Yeah, I know,” I said. “He’s a great guy.


I looked over, and he was talking to their friend. And though he was right in her face, she seemed to be enjoying it. I glanced at her finger. No ring. Excellent.


I laughed, “He’s a little tipsy right now, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take a drink before! You know… he’s so busy with his work and all… He’s a… hard worker.”


Wait, what was My New Friend’s name again?


When I finally left the situation, he was sitting on the couch talking to the girl, and they seemed amused. Wing-girl’s mission accomplished.


For the rest of the night, I did my best to help… talking to girls, then introducing my friends. But the longer I stuck around, the more and more disillusioned I became. Most of these guys weren’t going to pick up these girls. No amount of game was going to change that.


I decided to ask AL, “Do you ever tell certain guys they should try different bars? I mean, there’s no way some of them are going to find anyone here.”


AL said sometimes he suggests that the older ones check out hotel bars. Or airport bars. Or something like that. I couldn’t hear very well. It was loud, and I was getting sad. And drunk. What was the point of all of this, anyway? And what about the poor girls? Reality was setting in, and reality was depressing.


When I gave one really nice guy a list of Bars Where Smart People Go, I knew it was probably time for me to leave.


I walked to the bar to close my tab, and a very large woman came up to me.


“I love your boots,” the gigantic woman said. “I’ve been looking at them all night, and I just had to tell you.”    


“Thanks,” I replied nonchalantly.


But then I rememebred: I wasn’t wearing my boots. I was wearing a velcro walking shoe. I must have misunderstood…


I looked up at the gigantic woman. Her gaze was unabashedly directed at my… um… chest.


“Ohhhhhh,” I said, looking up at her.


I wanted to tell her that her approach needed some work. I wanted to tell her she might benefit from one of AL’s PUA workshops. I wanted to tell her to start by establishing commonalities. To get her foot in the door first.


But I’d done enough helping people get laid for one evening.


I gave her a quick goodbye nod and got the hell out of there.





2 female, 30+ male
Percentage of attendees who got laid that night (completely unscientific estimate):

20% including AL

Subject of last conversation I had with an attractive man:

Isiah Thomas, thank you very much

AL’s hourly consultation rate:
Approximately $400/hr