I have a theory about guys who turn to "The Game" and the whole Pickup Artist strategy: They're nice.

There's the nice guy who's too shy for casual sex, the nice guy who keeps getting burned by crazy girlfriends, the nice guy who's constantly relegated to friend status, and so on. All nice! Until they finally snap and start thinking that women are all haughty she-devils who owe them endless blowjays in recompense for their poonless teen years.

I had a chance to test my theory recently, when Emily McCombs and I were invited to sit in on a pickup "boot camp" from Love Systems Inc. (formerly known as the Mystery Method -- yep, he of the Furry Hat). We were allowed to attend, free of the near-$3,000 cost of admission, on the condition that we be "respectful" of the instructors and the attendees.

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With a few notable exceptions, both the instructors and the students seemed pretty nice. There was a fairly wide range in race and age and even attractiveness (from a meathead with a tribal tat and wraparound shades to an English guy who could have passed for a Prada model).

Those Who Can't, Teach Gym ...

The instructors were led by "The Don," an Angeleno in a western shirt and True Religion jeans. Cute, in a Piv-dawg kind of way. (Emily and I agreed -- if he hit on us in a bar, we'd probably put out like prom dates.) He said a few seriously toolhammer things. (Like, "By the time I graduated high school, I'd f---ed at least 30 girls. In college, hundreds." Yeah, OK, bra.) But he also had a lot of practical, non-judgmental advice to give that room full of nervous, eager dudes.

The junior instructors were much less impressive. One of them looked like he could have passed for the lost Gotti grandson. (Ed Hardy shirts? Really?) Another (an excitable, emo ginger) suggested approaching a girl and telling her that you'd been staring at her and were "just wondering if there was more there than meets the eye." Oh, buddy. I'm guessing some mace is eventually going to meet your eye.

Piv-Dawgs in Training

Maybe it's because I, myself, sleep with terrible guys, but I felt like anybody who has $3,000 to toss around in the first place has a leg up on most of the young turks out there. It was interesting to see the kinds of dudes -- again, most of them not bad-looking -- who would spend the equivalent of a trip to Thailand (where their cash might be better spent, wink wink) to have a bunch of men wearing jewelry tell them how to pick up chicks.

It seemed like most of them were just clueless. The English guy was cute, sure -- but was so rudderless socially that he'd barely made it to third base after six months in the states. Another guy, an M.B.A. type with a shaved head, said he'd already found a wonderful girl, but that he'd broken up with her when he found himself wondering if he couldn't do better. The rest of them seemed like they just genuinely wanted their hands held a little when it came to sealing the deal with a really hot girl.

The Syllabus of Sexytime


The class taught practical stuff, like easy conversation starters that the guys could use to approach a group of women at a bar. It was your basic "Intro to Improv" stuff -- harmless, except for the fact that the Love Systems guys were essentially encouraging these dudes to make up outlandish stories ("I'm growing a mustache for charity! Do you like it?") to get a foot in the door.

Thankfully, much of the goofy, condescending tactics like "kino-escalation" ("accidentally" touching a girl) and "negging" (insulting her to get her to shame-bang you) that Mystery popularized have been abandoned in favor of confidence-building techniques. I only wish that the instructors would have reminded the guys that women are just people -- not Cave of Wonder vaginas accessible by a secret password -- but I think a few of them probably didn't get that themselves.

Emily and I had, um, prior commitments, so we left before the Don and Co. could accompany the boys into the wilds of the Meatpacking District for field research. All told, I don't know that I'd recommend the seminars -- feminism aside, they're exploitative based on the price alone. That said, I would, however, highly encourage any guy with three G's and questions about girls to send both in a self-addressed, stamped envelope, care of me and Emily, Lemondrop dot com, The Internet, USA.

(For more on the seminar, read Emily's version over at our brother site, Asylum.com.)

Julieanne Smolinski
is an editor for Lemondrop. She has no game whatsoever.