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The birth of the seduction business coincided neatly with the sexual revolution: with the 1970 publication of sometime film editor Eric Weber’s bestselling manual (later made into a movie) .
A cadre of guru-like leaders appeared with a set of elaborate rites, precisely defined techniques, and an acronym-laden private language known only to initiates—purposely designed to appeal to men, whose minds seem to thrive on ritual, hierarchy, and complex esoterica (think baseball statistics, Scout badges, the military, the Catholic Mass, and the Freemasons). Jeffries pioneered the coinage of distinctive seduction lingo—his most widely used neologism: “sarging,” named after his cat Sarge and meaning trolling the bars for desirable women—as well as the use of the Internet.
His website, Speed Seduction, is going strong hawking CDs, DVDs, software tutorials, and personal coaching in pickup techniques.
(Friedman derived that extraordinarily high figure by counting drunken sexual encounters between students as rape.) Amanda Marcotte, the feminist blogger briefly hired by John Edwards during his presidential campaign, chimed in, accusing Max of a “bone-deep hatred of sexual women”—and also of possible “sexual assault” because he had bragged on his website about sleeping with a drunk girl while a friend hidden in a closet filmed the encounter. Next to her story she posted a photograph of her with Max that she had a friend take at the bar.
In May, feminist picketers so disrupted an appearance by Max at Ohio State University that he needed a police escort to get away. The photo shows a rosy-cheeked strawberry blonde who, although no Scarlett Johansson, is no Ugly Betty either (her C-cup bustline, much in evidence both underneath and spilling over her strapless top, doesn’t hurt).
(Durden coined the phrase “chick crack” in reference to astrology, palm-reading, spells, ESP, dream-analysis, handwriting analysis, personality tests, and other New Age-y preoccupations of females that make great openers for men willing to feign interest in them.) Mystery’s identity transformation was the most thorough, successful, and influential.
His 2007 book, , ran for two seasons on VH1 in 2007-08 (the show’s luster was somewhat diminished after it emerged that the winner of the first season’s get-the-girl sweepstakes was a professional actor instead of the video-game programmer that he said he was).They all feature pictures of scantily clad supermodel-like females and the same acronym-laden jargon ultimately traceable to Jeffries: a “PUA” is a “pickup artist”; an “AFC” is an “average frustrated chump” who hasn’t paid a guru to learn how to be a PUA; an “HB” is a “hot babe”; an “IOI” is an HB’s “indicator of interest” in a PUA, such as leaning in his direction or “accidentally” brushing his hand.Jeffries’s most famous pupil is a Canadian-born former stage magician called Erik James Horvat-Markovic who subsequently changed his name first to Erik von Markovik and later to just plain Mystery.Louts who might as well be clad in bearskins and wielding spears trample over every nicety developed over millennia to mark out a ritual of courtship as a prelude to sex: Not just marriage (that went years ago with the sexual revolution and the mass-marketing of the birth-control pill) or formal dating (the hookup culture finished that)—but amorous preliminaries and other civilities once regarded as elementary, at least among the college-educated classes.It helps, of course, that there’s currently a buyer’s market in women who are up for just about anything with the right kind of cad, what with delayed marriage (the average age for a woman’s first wedding is now 26, compared with 20 in 1960, according to the University of Virginia-based National Marriage Project’s latest report); reliable contraception; and advances in antibiotics (no more worries about what used to be called venereal disease). On the one hand, she decried the double-standard unfairness of labeling a girl who fools around with too many boys a “slut,” and, on the other, she lionized “the Slut” (her capitalization) as the enviable epitome of feminist freedom and feminist transgression against puritanical social norms. It’s the underlying theme of Eve Ensler’s girls-talk-dirty titled “Sluts” has made so many women’s studies reading lists that term-paper mills sell canned essays purporting to dissect it.Mystery also pioneered the now-widely imitated weekend-long “workshops” or “boot camps” in hotels aimed at turning AFCs into PUAs nearly overnight.