PUA Gurus: 7 Top Pickup Artists From The Game

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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Who are the PUA gurus that influenced author Neil Strauss as he wrote The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists?

The PUA gurus in The Game each had a different strategy. In his research, Neil Strauss learned about each of these PUA gurus and adopted his own strategy. Learn more about the PUA gurus below.

Style Meets the PUA Gurus

Mystery had another workshop coming up in two months, in Miami. Style set a goal to meet all the top pickup artists (PUAs) before then.

The seduction community had several pickup gurus, each pedaling a different seduction strategy. For example, Ross Jeffries’s Speed Seduction was based on subliminal messaging through sequences of scripted lines, while David DeAngelo’s Double Your Dating strategy used a hybrid of arrogance and humor, called cocky funny.

The PUA gurus competed for disciples, discrediting each other in the process. However, most men in the seduction community didn’t want to commit to just one guru—like Style, they wanted to pick up as many strategies from as many sources as they could. 

The PUA Gurus and Their Strategies

Each of the PUA gurus had a specific strategy that let them have their own followers within the community.

Juggler: Be Bold

The first PUA Style contacted was Juggler.  

Juggler advocated tactics that were bold and unorthodox. For example, he told his students to get over their fear of picking up women by calling random numbers from the phone book and asking for movie recommendations, or by convincing a homeless person to give them a quarter. Juggler also encouraged PUAs-in-training to make their pickups more challenging by telling women that they worked as garbage men or drove old cars.

Style attended one of Juggler’s free workshops in San Francisco.

Before Style reached out, Juggler already knew of Style from seeing his posts in the online seduction community. When they met, Juggler was impressed by Style’s innate likability, eloquence, and ability to put people at ease.

When Juggler saw Style in action, he admired Style’s skill at using seduction techniques. Combined with Style’s unassuming appearance, Juggler mused that Style could be an ideal sidekick for a rising seduction guru. 

Juggler could see that Style was lacking confidence, but that self-doubt disappeared when Style was sarging (picking up women). 

Juggler’s Background

Growing up, Juggler loved taking things apart—from toys to home appliances. As he got older, Juggler remained curious about how things worked, but his focus changed from appliances to human interaction. 

Juggler became a street performer, juggler, and comedian. In these roles, he studied social dynamics and, consequently, improved his game with women. By 23, he’d had sex with just one woman, but by 28, he could pick up any woman. 

Juggler felt like he’d found his tribe when he discovered the online seduction community, because the game was based on the knowledge and strengths he’d developed. 

Ross Jeffries: Neuro-Linguistic Programming

After Style’s trip to San Francisco, Jeffries called to invite Style to attend a seminar he was hosting that weekend. However, Style didn’t know that Jeffries had invited him as a pawn in the competition among the gurus. 

Style had become well-known in the community as Mystery’s new wing, and he’d gained respect since his impressive performance at Mystery’s Belgrade workshop. Jeffries knew that he’d gain clout if he could claim Style as his follower. 

In the middle of the seminar, Jeffries spotted Style in the audience and pushed him to declare Jeffries as his guru. However, Style deflected. When the two were alone later, Style explained that he didn’t feel he needed to choose among different methods—he wanted to learn from all gurus. 

David DeAngelo: Cocky Funny

David DeAngelo had entered the seduction community as a student of Jeffries, but he broke out on his own after Jeffries allegedly hypnotized and seduced DeAngelo’s girlfriend.

DeAngelo developed and promoted a strategy called cocky funny, which was a hybrid of arrogance and humor. 

DeAngelo wrote a manifesto on cocky funny and distributed it through an online seduction newsletter called Cliff’s List. It was so well-received, that Cliff—who operated Cliff’s List—convinced DeAngelo to turn the 15-page guide into an e-book, which DeAngelo titled Double Your Dating. He went on to build a business by the same name. 

DeAngelo was unique among the PUA gurus in several ways: 

  1. He wasn’t particularly charismatic or emphatic. He was a regular guy who was sharing what he’d learned through experience. But he was more organized as a businessman than the other gurus (for example, DeAngelo scripted his entire seminar), and he was a skilled marketer. 
  2. He presented his material in a way that was palatable to the public. He excluded or rephrased anything that seemed creepy or degrading toward women—except his suggestion that aspiring PUAs get tips on picking up women by reading a book on dog training. 
  3. He didn’t even use the word seduction, because it implied that he was tricking women into having sex with him. Instead, DeAngelo said he was teaching attraction, which entailed self-improvement that caused women to naturally gravitate toward him. 
  4. He didn’t engage directly with the online seduction community. He stopped posting on the underground seduction world’s message boards, and he operated his business solely in the public world. 

Zan’s Cocky Funny Field Report

One of DeAngelo’s followers, named Zan, was a master of cocky funny. 

Zan appeared to be genuinely cocky, playing up his seduction skills and touting his stories of conquest. Zan always assumed every woman was interested in him, and he insisted that if he believed it with enough conviction, the woman would, too. 

If a woman tried to reject Zan, he played dumb and acted as if the woman wasn’t making any sense. 

One day, Zan posted to Mystery’s Lounge about the cocky funny routine he used to pick up waitresses:

  1. When the waitress first came to the table, he pretended like he didn’t notice her for a few seconds. When he supposedly realized she was there, he appeared very interested in her. 
  2. He looked her up and down—long enough for her to notice, but not long enough to be creepy. Then he turned his body fully toward her, smiled, and winked. 
  3. He asked for her name as a means of breaking the ice
  4. Every time the waitress returned, he teased her that she kept coming back because she wanted to be around him. She started to play along with the game, which established a rapport. 
  5. He joked with the waitress that he’d call her, but he didn’t earnestly ask for her number. The purpose of the exchange was purely to make himself memorable.
  6. The next time he went to the restaurant, the waitress remembered him, so he picked up with an increased level of familiarity, putting his arm around her and saying what a good couple they’d make. The cocky funny strategy created a buffer that allowed him to push the boundaries, because she never knew whether he was being serious or joking. 
  7. He continued the jokes about dating, such as apologizing for not calling her last night, and chastising her for being a negligent girlfriend. 
  8. He transitioned from joking to serious. He created an opportunity to talk to the waitress one-on-one, and he asked her if she wanted him to call her.

Zan wrote that not only had he used the same routine on the other waitresses in the restaurant, but he also expected them to tell each other about what he’d said. He said that it was actually strategic that the waitresses knew he’d hit on all of them, because it created social proof—the idea that someone is more desirable if others are interested in him.

Steve P. and Rasputin: Hypnosis

DeAngelo’s seminar also featured a session with guest speakers Steve P. and Rasputin, who worked together as a hypnotist duo. Each had impressive credentials within the seduction community.

Steve P. got women to pay him up to a thousand dollars to have sex with him because he claimed he could: 

  • Teach them how to orgasm when they heard a particular voice command
  • Make their breasts grow up to two cup sizes via hypnosis
  • Teach them deep throat techniques for oral sex

Rasputin performed hypnotic sexual engineering, in which he framed sex as a privilege for the woman. For example, if a woman gave him oral sex, he might limit her to three sucks the first time, and then grant her five sucks the next time. 

According to Rasputin and Steve P., nerves and emotions only hindered PUAs. To be successful, they said, you had to live in your own reality, making you impervious to rejection and humiliation. 

Style got a taste of the duo’s hypnosis powers when he first met them: Rasputin saw that Style was nervous, so Steve P. did a quick hypnosis to get rid of Style’s anxiety. 

First, Steve P. had Style say his phone number backward. Then, Steve P. snapped his fingers and told Style to breathe deeply and exhale forcefully. Finally, Steve P. ran his fingers up Style’s torso and said, “Be gone!” Style wasn’t entirely sure it had worked, but he’d felt something

Steve P. gave Style his card and offered to teach him inner-circle techniques—but Style had to vow not to share them with anyone else. The pair’s hypnosis tactics were so powerful that they could only be trusted to certain people.  

Rick H. and David X

Two PUAs, Rick H. and David X, had fairly simple strategies. 

Rick H. was arguably the best PUA in the community. His seduction philosophy centered around two rules: 

  1. Don’t be nice. 
  2. Never give a direct answer. For example, if a woman asks about your job, give a facetious answer like a white slave trader, professional hopscotch competitor, or cigarette lighter repairman.

David X was a relatively recent PUA discovery. He was a former biker who now worked in construction. 

Despite being one of the ugliest PUAs, David X oozed alpha male confidence. His rules for seduction were: 

  1. Don’t care what the woman thinks. 
  2. Remember that you’re more important than the woman.
  3. Never lie to a woman. 

David X flipped women’s words to corner them into going out with him. For example, he’d lead a woman to say she was spontaneous. Later, if he asked her out and she was hesitant, he’d challenge her about being spontaneous. 

David X was known for dating multiple women—the seduction community called it harem management—without lying to any of the women about it. 

Lessons from the PUA Gurus

Style’s time with the PUA gurus had taught him about hypnosis, cocky funny, and sheer brazenness. 

He also picked up some universal lessons, which would serve him in the world beyond seduction: 

  • When you approach someone, your opening line isn’t as important as you think. How you start the conversation is less important than where you take it.
  • There’s a misconception that asking a lot of questions during conversation shows interest—but it comes off more as interrogation.
  • In contrast, making statements in a conversation is a confident and intimate way of talking. Old friends speak in statements, because they allow each other to offer information through their own sharing. 
  • Talking fast indicates a lack of confidence. If you’re talking fast, you’re trying to fit everything in as quickly as you can because you may be worried that people aren’t interested, or you can’t bear to leave out any details. 

Style felt he’d met enough gurus. He’d picked up plenty of philosophies and strategies—now he simply needed to practice using them. 

Each of the PUA gurus had a different strategy. They attracted followers who also used these methods. As Neil Strauss aka “Style” learned more about the pickup artist culture, he also got to know many of the PUA gurus.

PUA Gurus: 7 Top Pickup Artists From The Game

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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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