Mystery and Katya: The End of an Era for PUA Gurus

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Game" by Neil Strauss. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

What was the relationship between Mystery and Katya in The Game? How did their relationship cause issues amongst other PUAs?

Mystery and Katya entered into a relationship when the group of gurus moved to into the Project Hollywood house. Infidelity, as well as Mystery’s unresolved issues surrounding abandonment by his father contributed to their tumultuous relationship.

Mystery and Katya

Mystery met Katya in The Game—a chipper Russian woman in her early 20s—during a workshop. A couple days later, Mystery invited her to come by the mansion to hang out. Within a couple weeks, Katya and her dog had moved into Project Hollywood and she had ingratiated herself with everyone in the house.

Three weeks after they met, the two bought rings and told everyone they had eloped. They weren’t legally married—it was just a hoax—but their relationship shifted nonetheless. Mystery stopped going out to clubs, and he began staying in bed all day. For all his expertise in picking women up, he knew little about how to have a healthy relationship. 

Katya still wanted to go out, and she grew frustrated that her fake-husband had suddenly become so idle. Katya started getting drunk regularly, and the two began resenting each other. Soon, Katya was coming onto the other Project Hollywood housemates, including Style—but when Style told Mystery about it, Mystery seemed unaffected.

The Break Up

The tension and resentment between Mystery and Katya in The Game were reaching a peak. 

As Mystery and Katya’s cold war continued—Mystery freezing her out, and Katya hitting on the other housemates—Katya and Herbal began developing feelings for each other. 

Style advised Herbal to talk to Mystery about it; Mystery had given Herbal permission to pursue his ex once before, and Mystery didn’t appear to care about his relationship with Katya anymore. After Mystery had another fight with Katya that evening, he gave Herbal his blessing to act on his feelings for Katya. 

Just hours later, Katya and Herbal were together, and Mystery immediately regretted what he’d said. The feelings of rejection called up the emotional neglect he’d suffered as a child, and he broke down, insisting that he loved Katya. 

The next day, Mystery was still a wreck. The last time Style saw him depressed—before Mystery’s mom and sister checked him into a psychiatric ward—Mystery had been catatonic. This time was different: Rather than being void of emotions, Mystery was overcome by them, to the point of convulsing. 

Style determined that he should get Katya and Herbal out of Mystery’s sight:

  1. Style asked Herbal to refrain from seeing Katya until Mystery was more stable, and Herbal agreed. 
  2. Style asked Katya to move out of Project Hollywood for a while, and to stop having sex with Herbal. Katya agreed. 

Still, Mystery began talking about suicide, which prompted Style to take him to a mental health center, where Mystery got prescriptions for Xanax and a sleep aid.

Katya and Mystery: Mystery tries to Recover From His Breakup

Three weeks after Mystery’s visit to the mental health center, he seemed to be getting better. Mystery resumed leading pickup seminars, but now he used his experience with Katya as part of his lesson—although it seemed to be more for his own catharsis than for his students’ benefit. Mystery claimed that his fake-marriage to Katya was a brilliant pickup scheme, because it was the ultimate maneuver to make a woman attached to you.

Mystery said that his fake-marriage with Katya went awry only because she’d known it was fake. Next time, he would create an entire fake wedding ceremony, with an actor for an officiant and everyone in the know except for the woman and her parents. 

Mystery’s Love Triangle

As Mystery was recovering from his breakup with Katya and his mental health breakdown, he became entwined in a love triangle. More accurately, Mystery created the love triangle in order to feed his ego.

First, there was Gabby. Just like Mystery, Gabby was narcissistic and talked incessantly. Surprisingly, she and Mystery hit it off—they each fed each other’s need to have someone around to listen to them talk. Soon, Gabby believed that she lived at Project Hollywood, though none of the other housemates were aware of or approved of this move. 

Then, there was Twyla. Twyla was friends with a woman who Mystery dated years prior. When Mystery offered to help the woman with a bout of depression she was going through, she showed up at Project Hollywood with Twyla. Twyla and Mystery ended up getting together, and then Mystery hired Twyla to be his personal assistant. 

The love triangle caused constant drama that centered around Mystery’s affection. He didn’t appear to genuinely care for Gabby or Twyla, but he thrived on the attention. 

More Problems at Project Hollywood 

Style returned from Miami to more drama in Project Hollywood.

Katya had been out of town for six weeks, during which Mystery had called her constantly, trying to get her back. Meanwhile, Herbal was also calling Katya regularly, and Katya’s feelings for Herbal were growing stronger. 

When Katya returned to LA, she went straight to Project Hollywood and told Mystery that she wanted to date Herbal. Mystery acquiesced and agreed to back off—but, as soon as he saw Katya and Herbal kiss, it made him crazy. 

One night, Katya was out late helping Papa with a Real Social Dynamics workshop, so Papa suggested that Katya sleep in Herbal’s room, though Herbal was out of town. Hours later, Katya woke up to Mystery, who kicked down Herbal’s door and started throwing things. Mystery screamed at Katya that she was merely a guest in the house, and the next time she was there without Herbal, he would attack Herbal. 

Mystery and Herbal made up just in time for Mystery’s move-out. Then Herbal moved back to Austin with Katya.

Katya and Mystery’s relationship did not last. Eventually, Mystery left Project Hollywood. Style, who’d witnessed the events, left the PUA community.

Mystery and Katya: The End of an Era for PUA Gurus

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Neil Strauss's "The Game" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Game summary:

  • The secrets of the Pickup Artist community in seducing women
  • How key Pickup Artist leaders fought with each other and split the group apart
  • What author Neil Strauss took away about women from his years of training

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *