Q&A with author Neil Strauss
"Men's sexuality is a dark, repressed place -- and powerlessness turns into dark things"
LIANNE GEORGE | Aug 29, 2005
Why did you feel that you needed to go through this?
I had to go through this because men never ask for help. And they never really take a good, hard look at themselves to figure out what's broken, what's not effective, what's not working. They tend to blame the rest of the world. Going through this thing was like going to college again, but for yourself. It's an embarrassing thing to do. I was so unhappy with myself. I was living in Los Angeles, and I used to think all the time about a nose job or a chin implant or hair plugs or some kind of shoe to make me taller. But what I discovered over time is that, as long as I was well-groomed, all I needed was a personality to attract just about anyone I was interested in. I learned through the community to be happy with myself.
How sophisticated are these techniques?
It's amazing. These people are like social scientists. They field test their techniques hundreds and thousands of times. They've really figured out what you won't find in psychology research papers and previous books. Mystery's latest model, for example, has nine phases. He's charted it with graphics -- this crazy pie chart that looks like some fantastic mathmatical algorithm. It's unbelievable.
Did you ever feel creepy or manipulative pulling this stuff on women?
No, I never felt that because I think, in general, most guys on a date are trying to manipulate a woman into liking them or wanting them. That's all they're doing by paying for a dinner or pretending they want a relationship when they don't -- whatever their tactic is. This is the mentality of men.
Because women are the ones in our society who make the sexual choice, men are always trying to figure out how to get them to make that choice. The good news is, it doesn't really matter. I really think all of these routines and manipulations are just a way for a guy to get his foot in the door so that if a woman connects with him, she can still choose him. If you're not compatible or you don't have someone's best interests at heart, it's just not going to happen. Women are so intuitive.
Was there one technique you found particularly effective?
Everything was so counter-intuitive. I learned that the more unavailable you make yourself, the more people would want you. The more you say 'stop touching me' or 'I'm taken' or 'you're just not my type,' the more people would actually chase you.
Can you give an example?
A small example would be -- this sounds awful to say, but it's true -- if, say I tried to kiss someone and got rejected. I found that if I just turned my head away and ignored them for about five seconds, then turn back and say the same thing, most of the time they'd then go ahead and kiss me. I could be a punishment-reward thing, or it could be that people's first reaction is no, but once they've had a moment to think about it, they think, 'Well maybe this guy's alright.'
How did this experience change the way you feel about women?
I think I used to fear women because they had this power over you to make you feel inadequate or rejected. Now, there isn't that fear and, for the first time in my life, I'm comfortable. This doesn't happen to everyone, by the way. This is just my experience. I think some guys do this and they get hurt a lot -- they see women cheating on husbands and boyfriends, so they become very distrustful of women. For some guys, it does harden them. But for me, it eliminated the fear.
Did you have any hesitation about going public with this stuff?
Yes. I've done autobiographical books with Mötley Crüe and Jenna Jameson -- and the number one rule is you have to be honest. You have to say everything even at the risk of looking bad because, if you're holding back, people can sense it.
What was the roughest part to actually get down on paper?
The roughest thing was to take part in the book rather than use some journalistic sheen and just talk about Mystery or something. I considered that. I considered putting out the book under another name, but I wanted to be honest and show the ugly and the beautiful and the pathetic sides of men's sexuality. It was a really dark community. Men's sexuality is a dark, repressed place and powerlessness turns into dark things.
What kind of women fall for these cheesy "openers"?
As you're hearing about it, you're thinking, 'These would never work on me.' But the scary thing is -- having been out and approached thousands and thousands of people -- it will work on just about everyone. And the smarter and more classy you are, the better it will work. A smart woman appreciates meeting someone who talks about something other than, 'How are you doing?' and 'Where are you from?' It doesn't mean you're going to sleep with this person, but it does mean you'll get into a conversation and think about it. It allows a man to at least be in the running. The success rate was unbelievably high.
What's the response been to the book so far?
It runs the gamut, and it's fascinating to me. It's the first book I've written alone, and it's about one of the most controversial subjects there is. I've never written a book where the reaction to it depends on the person. Just about every guy who's heard about it wants to hang out all the time and learn it. With women it ranges from total fascination to being totally appalled that men actually talk like this. That's what this community is, it's one big locker room.
Are you worried about getting in trouble for giving away community secrets?
I thought about that. But a lot of the openers -- and the idea of time constraints -- they were mine, things that I contributed to that world. But I think ultimately these things were becoming so widespread anyway, it's almost like they were getting overused.
You met your current girlfriend, Lisa, while operating Project Hollywood. Is that relationship still going strong?
Yeah, she just moved in yesterday. I definitely went out and did some disgusting things. But I did find love in the end, and I definitely know that if I hadn't had this confidence, and some of these techniques and experiences, there's no way I would ever have found Lisa. Or that she would've talked to me for more than five minutes.
How does Lisa feel about book?
Minus 20 pages or so, she loved it.
What have you learned about male-female relationships?
I think men really are dogs and what keeps them straight is women's high expectations. I feel like that's what I got out of it in the end. Men do have these more animal brains, cold factual brains, whereas women have these great hopes of finding that one guy and that's got its risks too. But because they believe in that guy, he often ends up living up to her hopes. Sometimes he doesn't.
Are you still involved in the seduction community?
Peripherally involved. I'll go to workshops sometimes with my girlfriend, Lisa, to help the guys feel good about themselves. The fact is, you really have a lot of sympathy for the guys who are trying to learn this because they're guys with no self-esteem and no confidence in this world
Do you miss it?
It's funny. With the book coming out, I decided I'd go out for a night -- with Lisa's permission -- and sarge. Just to do it. I came back and I'm like, "I'm so glad I'm not doing this anymore." I just don't want to deliver these routines anymore. I needed to go through it, but I'm glad I'm out of it.