Cock and Awe

St. Louis pickup artists rule the roost.

Trix stopped counting his conquests after he bedded more than 300 women. He met them in bars and in shopping malls. He met them on Central West End streets and in the Delmar Loop. Once, in fact, he slept with a woman on her wedding day, sometime between the reception and the honeymoon. On another occasion, during an out-of-town business trip, he spotted a dancer at a strip club. "I said, 'I'm taking her home,'" Trix fondly remembers. "Four hours later, me and this other guy, and two strippers, were at Denny's getting breakfast before going back to the hotel."

Trix, the invented name of this self-described pickup artist, is hardly what you'd consider a Casanova. He's a skinny, 28-year-old guy who stands five-nine and wears his sideburns long. Button-down shirts and jeans are his usual attire, along with "sixth-grade shoes," Vans he's scribbled over with ballpoint pen. His voice is scratchy, and he talks quickly. He works as a computer consultant. When he first met his current girlfriend, she dismissed him as a dork.

Picking up a woman, says Trix, is not a matter of luck, but a skill he's spent years polishing. "I'm a perfectionist," he boasts.

Jennifer Silverberg
Starring Magic Smoking Monkey Theater actor Aaron Orion Baker as The Pickup ArtistClick here for the PDF
Jennifer Silverberg
Starring Magic Smoking Monkey Theater actor Aaron Orion Baker as The Pickup Artist

Click here for the PDF

Other guys might obsess over video games or fantasy baseball. Not Trix. He's busy padding stats. Ladies of St. Louis: consider yourselves warned. Unless, of course, you are looking to hop in the sack with a perfect stranger, and Trix fervently believes you are, even if you're married or otherwise attached.

"Girls like sex as much as guys," he says. "They just like to pretend they don't. When I'd meet a married woman, I would say, 'Hi, I'm Mr. Discreet.'"


Trix decided to become a pickup artist five years ago. "My girlfriend of two years cheated on me," he explains. "It broke my heart. I became very depressed." Operating on the age-old principle that the best way to get over one woman is to "bang ten others," he turned for guidance to the source of all knowledge: the Internet.

These days, anybody can read up on pickup techniques in books like Rules of the Game or watch them on YouTube or the VH1 show The Pick-up Artist. When Trix began his mating games, the pickup community was still safely sequestered on a few Web sites, most notably Fast Seduction 101, an extensive clearinghouse of pickup lore.

To be a pickup artist is to speak in acronyms and code. Fortunately, Fast Seduction links to a fifteen-page glossary of terms. An AFC, one learns, is an average frustrated chump. A PUA is a pickup artist. SHB is a super hot babe, as opposed to FUG, a fucking ugly girl.

The Fast Seduction forums are full of field and lay reports and big-brotherly advice on how to get over "approach anxiety" and "close" with a woman — meaning anything from getting her phone number to getting into her pants. PUAs seldom work alone. It is considered essential to have a good wingman for support when you go out "sarging," or looking for pickups. (The term originated not with the military, but with Sargy, pickup guru Ross Jeffries' pet cat.)

It was the guys in the forums who got Trix to stop tallying his sexual prey. "They said I was seeking validation," he says.

The life of a PUA, though, isn't all about sex, partying and peacocking (another pickup expression that means wearing silly hats and feather boas to attract attention in bars and clubs). The community has its — dare we say — intellectual side. Pickup literature is full of theories gleaned from social anthropology about how to become the alpha male, to be pursued by women — not the pursuer.

"It's based on survival of the fittest," says Cougar Hunter (his made-up name), a Washington University student. "Life is about surviving and replicating your genes."

Fellow Wash. U. student, Ikon, a 23-year-old math major, takes a break from a game of darts with Cougar Hunter (his made-up name) to talk about his transformation into a pickup artist. "A year ago," Ikon confides, "I was a nerdy math guy. I had poor social skills. I thought, 'If I get really good at math, I will attract women.'"

Cougar Hunter snorts in disbelief. "You actually believed that?"

"It wasn't conscious," Ikon protests. "But I asked myself, 'Why am I so competitive?' I realized it was to get women." And so he decided to try a more direct strategy. He discarded his glasses and spruced up his wardrobe. "When I started sarging," he says, "people would guess I studied engineering. Now they don't even suspect I'm a Wash. U. student."

But dressing well can only get you so far. It is a truth generally accepted among pickup artists that, given a choice, women will pick the confident man over the one who is merely good-looking. A well-trained PUA would never break dance in a club to attract a woman, as one contestant did on The Pick-up Artist.

"It tells people that you're trying to impress them," Ikon explains. "It tells the girl she's the prize. That lowers your value. You want to be the prize. Girls are turned off by guys who are trying too hard to impress them."

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