"At some point in our lives we all got rejected and took it personally," says Sam. "It's a downward spiral, you lose your self-esteem and then your posture is off."

Kelvin's drills eliminate the fear of rejection by forcing students to deliberately induce it and get it out of the way. One exercise is to tell every woman in the bar that you have an ice cream cone melting in your car — a crude invitation to perform oral sex or simply a bad joke. Either way, getting rejected makes you realize that it didn't kill you, and you become less sensitive.

During a weekend-long bootcamp in February, Kelvin and 10 protégées meet for a pep talk in his room at the Clift Hotel. "Keep moving your hands when you're talking so it's natural when you touch her hand for the first time." After a few more tips on how to "escalate" the exchange from eye contact to conversation to touch, Kelvin draws a map of the bar layout on the hotel-room mirror and marks the guys' positions with X's. "Don't huddle together," says Kelvin. "We need two guys in every part of the bar."

Vince Kelvin walks his charges through a kinder, gentler form of pickup artistry in Union Square.
Valerie Demichevaz
Vince Kelvin walks his charges through a kinder, gentler form of pickup artistry in Union Square.
Valerie Demichevaz

He warns them not to move in on each other's women, because that "disqualifies both of you from the potential to be special."

Sam is in attendance as well. At the bar, a buxom drunk girl in a short dress throws herself at him, but he declines; she's not girlfriend material. He's now rejecting the types of girls he was merely hoping might respond to him online just a few years prior.

Critics of the pickup artist movement focus on the calculation and manipulation required to achieve the debatable goal of putting notches in belts. But if there's something cynical in the approach, it may be inherent in the rules governing online communication.

"If you say something weird in a bar, you laugh it off, there's nuisance there," says Mathias Crawford, Human Computer Interaction Fellow at Stanford. "Online it's very high stakes and you've just blown your one chance to make an impression." A bad pickup line sent via an online dating site can disqualify you. But in the flesh, there's an immediate chance for a rebound. You can save the interaction by laughing at yourself, and you can get immediate social cues that tell you to modify or continue your behavior.

According to Crawford, many PUA tactics are an extension of the rapid-fire results that people have grown to expect online. "A lot of what happens online is application-based [or task-specific] work: 'I'm buying something. I'm posting something,'" says Crawford. "The things we do through computer-mediated devices extend and deploy themselves in our lives. If you develop this transactional model, you start to expect those types of transactions in real life."

For commitment-oriented PUA students like Sam, Kelvin's self-improvement curriculum is a tool to become more competitive in attracting the best quality of girlfriend possible. For others, the tried and true PUA tactics are simply a way to maximize their chances of getting laid, while putting out the least amount of effort. Crawford, incidentally, finds many PUA tactics objectionable. He views formulaic PUA lines as a way to de-personalize what should be a very spontaneous, human interaction. He finds much of it disrespectful and "gross."

Kelvin, meanwhile, believes that he's actually helping women by training men to be better communicators. "I've witnessed too many guys act so creepy or unpleasant," he says. "To me, women are saying, 'Please act normal, please be the masculine polarity.'"

For Seth, a handsome 30-year-old graphic artist from the Midwest, Kelvin's PUA boot camps were a liberating force. Seth came from a Muslim upbringing. He believed that sex was acceptable only within the context of love and commitment. Yet he was routinely unfulfilled in a string of mediocre long-term relationships.

A year after training with Kelvin, Seth has slept with more than 30 women. He says that he's always upfront about his intentions and has finally internalized the notion that women like sex too. Seth feels there's a deep reciprocity in his encounters, however brief they may be. "I provide them with an escape from decision-making," he says.

Kelvin says that he empowers men like Seth by helping them understand what they have to offer women. He says that men need to learn which archetype works best for them: the romantic hero, the alpha male, the intellectual, or the bad boy. Ideally, Kelvin wants them to learn to be all four.

It's Tony Robbins for the club set, except the goal isn't necessarily spiritual self-realization so much as the enlightenment of the orgasm.

How does Kelvin approach women? "I'll make the first step. You're free as a woman. ... I come from a place of abundance," he says. He doesn't view relationships as power plays. Just play.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
stockjonebills
stockjonebills

I guess if you want to pickup girls at strip clubs or dive bars you might want to listen to this goofball. Geez. Seriously Ladies. if this is your dreamboat you do deserve a wife beater. .."Divorced three times...".

braganchase
braganchase

When did Rufio become a pick up artist?

amazedatthestupidity
amazedatthestupidity

"I call him the Dalai Lama of dating."  which reveals precisely why i have wasted three minutes reading this utterly ridiculous dreck. 


hey assholes.  ever wonder the the nicest women in l.a. are pretty tough to approach?  see that douchebag staring out at you from the mirror? now you know.

Colleen Cummins
Colleen Cummins

Oh my lord his shirt is all you need to know about this jackass

Michael Naranjo
Michael Naranjo

"They beat around the bush, that's why they don't get the bush." Tell me more, wise bush ninja!

Keith Johnston
Keith Johnston

Anybody that places that much importance , premeditation and treats having casual sex like the most important thing in life is a borderline criminal , sociopath unevolved little boy. There is a douche for every bag.

Kelly Navarro
Kelly Navarro

Pick up artists work by literally hitting on everything that walks by. The girl who actually falls for that crap deserves to poked by such a douchebag

José-Ariel Cuevas
José-Ariel Cuevas

There is always a sucker willing to part with his money. And this ass-hat is more than happy to take it.

sirjorge
sirjorge

Someone's always "gaming" the system of gullible idiots with money. I'm an ugly dude, and can testify to the fact that these "self help" dating crash courses don't work. What does work is doing what you personally love, going outside, and being in public. Showering, shaving, and exhibiting a sense of self confidence, not some "game". Plus, the main example shown here, the "leader" has been divorced thrice!? What the hell? So if the game is to get the best girlfriend possible, it's just that? More moronic men bagging women, posting notches on their bed post, and bragging about conquests? Yeah, that's what society needs right now, more chimps that can shave. But again, who cares, right? guys like me, or anyone with an adverse opinion on the matter aren't heralded as iconoclasts, no. It's the guy with the weird hair and a "new" way to pick up chicks (so he says), is the guy that gets the feature. This passes off as lifestyle, news, and important? Meanwhile women are jailed for having miscarriages in Latin America, but this dude, this idiot is what gets coverage? 

ladygray
ladygray

@sirjorge  With an attitude like that, you won't have trouble in the dating pool long. Most of my friends (I'm a woman) find the guys who can see through this PUA crap to be most attractive. 

 
San Francisco Concert Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...