Right after I released Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser, I met the world-famous pickup artist Adam Lyons at the SXSW-interactive conference, where I announced the book release and spoke on a panel about feminism and pickup artistry. I seized the chance to interview Adam and add his perspective to my book. You can read the interview below, and it is currently part of Confessions, but the process of updating the book was weird enough that I want to talk about that first. If you don’t care about the intricacies of ebook publishing, then you should skip down to the photo of Adam and his wife.
(Adam Lyons is not the same Adam as my partner in Confessions, by the way. They’re totally different Adams. If I’d known Adam Lyons before I published Confessions, then I would have given “my” Adam a different pseudonym. C’est la vie.)
I’m learning a lot of lessons from publishing Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser. It’s been so interesting and challenging … although I feel kinda bad for my readers, who are in the role of guinea pigs as I test new approaches! Thanks for your patience, folks. I promise that the release of The S&M Feminist: Best of Clarisse Thorn will go much more smoothly.
Publishing an ebook with Amazon Kindle can be frustrating, but Kindle is such a big platform that it can’t be ignored. The next biggest ebook publisher is Smashwords; unlike Smashwords, if I update the Kindle file, the change takes a while to register. What’s worse, if I make a change and I want the people who already bought the Kindle book to receive the change, then I have to email Amazon and ask them to allow those folks to download the new version. On Smashwords, a person who’s bought the book can download any version, anytime.
Anyway, I emailed Amazon around March 20th, telling them that I’d fixed some technical errors (a few footnote links) and added a new section. I asked Amazon to allow people who already paid for the book to download the new version. (This request was in line with their policy as I understood it from a previous email exchange.) I also asked them to let readers know that if they don’t want to download the new version of the book, they could find the extra section on my blog.
So this morning, I got a message from one of my readers, telling me that Amazon sent her the following message yesterday (April 24th — over a month after I filed the original request!):
We are happy to announce that an updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser: Long Interviews with Hideous Men by Clarisse Thorn is now available. The version you received had the following issues that have been corrected:
Significant editorial issues were present.
Also, new content has been added.
Then the email explains how to download the new version, with no further details about the changes. Sigh. Oh well. I apologize for the confusion. I thought it would be easy to update the book with my Adam Lyons interview, but it seems that the reality — even with e-publishing — is that a work should be treated as complete from the first day it’s on the market.
Anyway, if you bought Confessions before March 20th, then you should now be able to download the new version on either Smashwords or Kindle. (The physical copies are totally up-to-date; I released them on April 15th.)
And! Without further ado, here’s the section about Adam Lyons. It appears at the end of Chapter 6: Down The Rabbit Hole.
After I released this book, I was recruited for a panel about feminism and pickup artistry at the South-by-Southwest Interactive conference. It was a really interesting panel that included the famous PUA coach Adam Lyons. Naturally, I grabbed the chance to interview Adam Lyons so that I could add his perspective to this book. (Since the interview took place after this book’s initial release, you know you’re reading Confessions Version 2.0 if you’re reading this sentence right now.)
We met in an apartment that Adam Lyons rents for PUA training courses. The place contained a hefty amount of booze, a bunch of leftover pizza, and some instructors who were all worn out after a weekend of teaching. The guys invited me to go play Lazer Tag after the interview, but I regretfully had to decline.
Adam Lyons is one of nine coaches listed as “significant figures” in the Wikipedia entry for the seduction community. Compared to some other top coaches, he’s relatively new, but he got into the community when it was still pretty underground. “In maybe 2005 or 2006,” he told me, “The Game had just come out. I was halfway through reading The Game and I knew I had to try this. So I managed to find this bootcamp company and get in touch with them. My contact was like, ‘Come and meet me in a Chinese restaurant,’ so I took an envelope full of cash and I met him in a Chinese restaurant. He took the cash and counted it, and told me to meet the group in a particular bar later that week.”
“What did you learn?” I asked.
“In my first program, I learned the ‘fall on the floor technique,’ where you run up to a girl and you just fall on the floor. It was ridiculous.”
I laughed. “That would totally work on me. I’d think it was hilarious.”
“It can work surprisingly well,” Adam Lyons acknowledged. “But I once introduced a guy to my wife who then kept falling out of his chair, and it was so terrible. Anyway, most of the other ‘techniques’ didn’t work at all. For example, in that first program, they made me walk up to all these girls in the street and say, ‘I’m the kissing bandit — now you have to kiss me!’ It was so awkward.”
Within a few months, Adam Lyons soaked up everything the community had to offer and had begun coaching for local PUA companies. Now he runs his own company along with his wife. We talked a lot about social phobia, and how some PUA techniques line up with treatments for social phobia. Adam Lyons echoed a point that I’d already heard from other PUAs, like Mark Manson: that social phobia techniques may be helpful for some guys, but not all guys… and more importantly, applying treatments for social phobia to men who aren’t phobic will be utterly counterproductive.
“For people who genuinely have a clinical phobia, there are basically two ways of getting rid of it,” said Adam Lyons. “One of them is ‘flooding’ and the other is ‘systematic desensitization.’ In systematic desensitization, you slowly expose a person to that stimulus until they’re okay with it. So if they have a phobia of spiders, you might show them a photo of a spider, then show them videos, then put them in the same room with a spider in a tank, and then slowly put a spider on their hand. With ‘flooding,’ you’d do something like drop someone in a bath full of spiders.
“When picking up girls,” he continued, “with ‘flooding,’ you force a guy to do a lot of approaches with a stupid routine or wearing a stupid outfit, until he’s not scared of women anymore. So when a student who overcomes their phobia that way goes to teach someone else, they’ll use the ‘flooding’ technique. But the other person might not actually have a phobia, they might just be a little scared, which isn’t as bad and requires a different approach. So they’re taking a technique, which is a proven psychological technique, and applying it to someone who doesn’t need it. And any individual technique taught to the wrong person is going to give the wrong message. For example, the minute you tell a guy who’s already confident that he should just say what he feels, then you’ve got a whole new problem coming up — he’ll be over-aggressive. So that’s my main issue with old-fashioned routine-based game. The right techniques, but only for certain people.”
“You have other issues?” I asked.
“Probably thousands,” he said ruefully, and we both laughed. “What most of these guys need is emotional help, not pickup artistry. But I think the community has really changed,” he added. “Or rather, it’s come to a tipping point. When I look at the Internet analytics for pickup, I see that pickup artistry as a topic isn’t nearly as popular as it was a few years ago. But men are searching for dating advice now in a way that they never used to. Men are asking Google questions like ‘How do I find a girlfriend?’ — most men never used to do that. Dating advice for men has finally reached the point I’ve been waiting for, where it’s really mainstream and acceptable. It’s going to be a whole new landscape.”
Again, all this was analysis I’d heard from other guys like Mark, but it was interesting to hear it from such a prominent PUA. Most of the top coaches aren’t so interested in subverting the industry.
Adam Lyons also gave me one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard from a PUA coach, ever. It was about a man who came to his course in order to get his wife back. “We’re doing this program,” he told me, “and there’s this guy turns up, he’s totally built, and he’s also nervous and quiet. He sits through the seminar silently and then asks to talk to me alone. Once we’re in another room, he starts crying and he says: ‘I’m not here to pick up a girl. I’m here to pick up my wife.'”
It turned out that this guy was a successful professional boxer, and this woman pursued him for years. Eventually he married her, but soon afterwards he decided that the boxing life wasn’t good for him, so he quit and started a nonprofit for teaching kids how to box. She lost interest in him and eventually told him that either she wanted to be able to sleep with other people, or she wanted a divorce. He granted the exception to their monogamy because he was afraid of losing her, but he was miserable.
“So,” said Adam Lyons, “I told this boxer: ‘I’m going to teach you to get a girl. If it’s your wife, that’s great, but if it isn’t then you’ll have the skill set to find someone else.’ I taught him a bunch of things, but ultimately we decided to re-create his lifestyle from when he was a pro boxer, in a different way. He started holding youth boxing championships. He didn’t make much money by setting up the championships, but that was okay because he had another job, and he had this great social position with all these hot girls and young boxers who admire him. So his wife noticed this and she regained interest in him, and they renewed their vows.”
(As it happens, the couple broke up for good a couple years later. But apparently the boxer felt a lot better about it when they did break up, and he reported feeling like he found himself through the whole process of creating the championships.)
Adam Lyons is himself married to a sultry and beautiful woman, Amanda Lyons, who helps a lot with his PUA training and marketing. Amanda is not known for her conversational restraint, nor for her empathy. At one point she had a big fight on Twitter with one of my feminist co-panelists, after she accused us of mentioning rape during the panel because it’s a “feminist trump card.”
Still, Amanda and I were able to get along, and she’s certainly smart. It was interesting to watch the couple interact. When I came over to interview Adam Lyons, he was telling his wife a story about how he charmed a local baker into giving him pies for free — and deconstructing his tactics. It looked like a fun relationship: the two of them get to talk about social dynamics and manipulation all the time. And he clearly loves her exactly as she is.
“My wife’s such a dude,” Adam Lyons told me. “Amanda drinks beer, I drink wine. Amanda likes football, I don’t. Out of the two of us, I try to be sympathetic to girls and issues that they have, but Amanda has no sympathy for girls really. Or boys, to be completely fair.” He glanced over at where his wife was involved in her laptop. “Amanda is CEO of her own company — she’s really dominated the pickup industry,” he said fondly. “She’s a badass. She starts fights with feminists.”
“How does it feel to be a prominent PUA who’s married?” I asked.
“I crossed #1 PUA the day I got married,” Adam Lyons said. “I was #1 worldwide within 3 months after I got married. Everywhere, every PUA site put me at #1 on every list.”
Which tells us something about PUAs really want, doesn’t it?