Neil Strauss and Courtney Love: A PUA Friendship

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.

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How did Neil Strauss and Courtney Love know each other? Did they ever date, or were they just friends?

Neil Strauss and Courtney Love met when Strauss interviewed Love for Rolling Stone. Neil Strauss and Courtney Love found that they got along well, and spent time talking and getting to know each other.

Neil Strauss and Courtney Love: Using PUA in Real Life

The techniques Style learned in the community were not just useful for picking up women—the principles were about how to read people and make them feel comfortable. 

As a journalist, these skills vastly improved Neil’s interviewing skills. This was evident when Courtney Love and Neil Strauss met.

Courtney Love

After Neil’s feature on Tom Cruise, he got another assignment from Rolling Stone. His editor wanted him to interview Courtney Love; it was the early 2000s, and she was all over the news for her outlandish behavior and pending drug charges. Neil Strauss and Courtney Love’s interview would turn out to be an intense friendship.

But Neil Strauss and Courtney Love didn’t immediately connect. Early in the interview, Love’s answers were abrasive and somewhat antagonistic. Neil realized that he, as a reporter, represented the media, which had exposed and mocked Love’s outbursts and mistakes. Neil recognized that Love was using a bitch shield—as PUAs call it—which was merely a defense mechanism. 

Neil had to use his pickup techniques to break through her bitch shield and build a rapport, which would be the only way she’d provide authentic, interesting answers for his article. Neil knew the formula: trust + comfort = rapport.

First, Neil followed up on a comment Love made about her grandmother with a memory of his own grandmother. This created an opportunity for brief small talk about their families, and Love revealed that she didn’t get along with her family, which gave him something personal and authentic to build on. 

As the interview went on, Neil gently widened the crack in her bitch shield to create a larger opening into Love’s genuine self. Finally, Love began to cry and told Neil that she needed saving—in fact, she said that Neil had to save her. 

Neil had created a rapport. At Love’s request, they exchanged phone numbers. 

Love called Neil later that night, asking him to come over to her place. Style ended up staying at Love’s apartment for three days straight. They talked, ate takeout, watched movies, and performed amateur acupuncture—but they never had sex. 

Courtney Love Moves Into Project Hollywood

After their encounter, Neil Strauss and Courtney Love met again. Amidst growing problems in Project Hollywood, two new roommates moved in—both of them female. 

One was Courtney Love. Love still had Style’s phone number from when he’d interviewed her for Rolling Stone and had subsequently spent the following three days in her apartment. Love texted Style one night, telling him that she was overwhelmed with bills and the task of keeping her life in order without a manager. She asked Style if she could stay at Project Hollywood for a little while. 

Love made herself right at home in the house. Love was a messy house guest—she left open jars of peanut butter and jelly scattered around the kitchen, with sticky smears streaking the counters—but she quickly endeared herself to everyone in Project Hollywood. 

The other new roommate would also become well-liked among many of the housemates, but she would also lead to the breakup of the original Project Hollywood housemates. Her name was Katya. 

Style and Lisa

One day, two of Courtney Love’s bandmates, Sam and Lisa, showed up at Project Hollywood, looking for Love. Love was not around, so Style sat and talked with them. 

Style had met them once before, but this time he was struck by Lisa, Love’s guitarist. Lisa absolutely oozed confidence—so much so that she was impenetrable to Style’s seduction tactics. This was different than the relationship between Courtney Love and Neil Strauss.

Society teaches women to be submissive, which causes many women to make themselves seem less imposing and even less intelligent in an effort to appear more attractive to men. This was part of the reason negs worked in seduction, because it played up this power hierarchy between men and women; though it didn’t work with Lisa, even Courtney Love and Neil Strauss’s relationship had been defined by this dynamic.

But some women rejected that model—and Lisa was one of them. Lisa had inner confidence that didn’t rely on validation from anyone else. Negs bounced right off of Lisa because she could dismiss them without a moment of doubt about who she was or how awesome she was; if the guy negging her didn’t see that, it was his problem. 

Neil Strauss and Courtney Love never had a sexual or romantic relationship, but remained friends. Neil Strauss and Courtney Love also met again when Neil began dating Courtney’s bandmate, Lisa.

Neil Strauss and Courtney Love: A PUA Friendship

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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.

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