The seduction community is a loose-knit subculture of men who strive for better sexual and romantic success with women through self-improvement and a greater understanding of social psychology.
It exists largely through Internet forums and groups, as well as over a hundred local clubs, called “lairs”. Supporters refer to the subculture simply as ‘the community’ and often call themselves “pickup artists.”
The seduction community’s origins date back to Eric Weber’s 1970 book How to Pick Up Girls. In the 1980s, two California self-help gurus began selling their own advice for meeting attractive women. One, who calls himself “R. Don Steele” a.k.a. ‘Steel Balls’, focuses on helping men over 35 meet younger women. Another, Ross Jeffries, promotes a collection of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques called “Speed Seduction” (SS). Other gurus established themselves, but lacked contacts with each other.
In 1994, Lewis De Payne, then a student of Jeffries, founded the newsgroup alt.seduction.fast (“ASF”). This then spawned a network of other Internet discussion forums, email lists, blogs, and sites where seduction techniques could be exchanged.
The original alt.seduction.fast became overwhelmed with spam, and a group called “Learn the Skills Corporation” developed a moderated alternative known as “Moderated ASF” (commonly “mASF”), which reports a membership of 20,000. At the same period, in the late 1990s, Clifford Lee, a consummate networker, began his Cliff’s List Seduction Letter as a central independent voice of the community.
Other seduction teachers emerged with competing methods, and became known within this community as “seduction gurus” or “gurus”. The emergent theories coalesced on the usenet newsgroups before being systematically taught by teachers. Two of the most notable of these new teachers were Mystery and David DeAngelo.
David and Cliff of Cliffslist.com are considered the most independent of the seduction community. David got his start with a post to Cliff’s List. Mystery is a magician who applied many of the social skills used in stage performance to the art of seduction, creating the Mystery Method. Many of the terms used by the community like “set” and “routine” are taken from the performing arts. David DeAngelo, a former student of Ross Jeffries, is best known for a technique called ‘Cocky and Funny’.
In 2005, Neil Strauss wrote The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, an exposé of the seduction community. The Game reached the New York Times Bestseller List, and popularized pickup and seduction to a broader audience, increasing the chances of pickup artists being caught when they used canned material.
On 2 August 2007, Mystery, with his former students Matador and J-Dog created his own television show “The Pick Up Artist” on VH1. Nick Savoy was supposed to appear on the show but due to a professional dispute between Savoy and Mystery, Savoy did not appear. He is listed as a consultant to the show.
The body of knowledge in the field of “pick-up” has grown exponentially in the past decade as millions of men around the globe have taken an interest in the subject. Many write up their personal experiences and construct theories of the self and of social dynamics to share with other students. The combined material has the hallmarks of an interdisciplinary field of study and promiscuously borrows concepts and terminology from other disciplines in the arts, sciences, and pseudo-sciences. Evolutionary biology, neurolinguistic programming, and the psychology of influence are just a few of the fields that have been mined for concepts and metaphors germane to the practice of pick-up.
In 2008 the Seduction Hall of Fame was opened to reward seduction coaches for their accomplishments in this field: Mystery, David DeAngelo, Neil “Style” Strauss, and Cliff from Cliff’s List were all inducted for their Lifetime Achievements.