The art of seduction

A former Queen’s student has become a world-renowned pickup artist

Cook—or “Tyler Durden” when he’s picking up women—says the key to seduction is self-improvement.
Cook—or “Tyler Durden” when he’s picking up women—says the key to seduction is self-improvement.

Owen Cook is many things. A Queen’s graduate, a philosophy major, a successful entrepreneur.

Cook is considered one of the most knowledgeable and controversial gurus for thousands of men who seek to reinvent themselves as irresistible alpha males.

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, a New York Times bestseller by Neil Strauss, chronicles Strauss’ own undercover foray into the subculture of “pickup” and the larger “seduction community.” Strauss journeys headlong into the seduction community while taking notes as a fly-on-the-wall investigative journalist.

In the second half of his memoir, Strauss, newly reinvented as master pickup-artist ‘Style,’ details his interactions with a precocious pickup artist calling himself “Tyler Durden,” which is the seduction pseudonym of Cook, who first gained attention on the seduction community’s Internet forums.

“I picked Tyler Durden because I thought he was the archetype of a very cool character who had to let go of his old identity and move on to a new one. I kind of admired that aspect about moving away from certain social standards that were ultimately unfulfilling.” Before the publication of The Game, Cook co-founded Real Social Dynamics, a dating coaching company based in Los Angeles. He was supposed to have graduated from Queen’s in 2003, but when his newly created company began attracting clients by the truckload, he took time off from Queen’s and started traveling and meeting with people to impart his pick up techniques.

“To be considered a ‘pick up artist’ is not really my personal identity,” Cook said. “I had always wanted to go on and be a professor. What I would like to be known for is the ability to transfer my skills to a client.”

“Through the different resources that I found, I was able to develop a level of skill that people were interested in learning from and because of that it became a job. Now, once something becomes a job, you want to do the best job you can, be the absolute best you can be. You want to offer the most value to your clients that you can.” Ironically, his career as a pickup artist began with a breakup.

“What I originally went into it for was after my first girlfriend broke up with me in first-year at Queen’s, I basically hadn’t lived in residence and had no group of friends. I was isolated. I wasn’t the cool guy; I was like the creepy guy that wants something. That kind of guy I didn’t like, because I’d only ever had the one girlfriend before. So basically I was very inexperienced with women and my social scene was pretty crushed. It really affected my grades a lot.” With guidance from the online seduction community, Owen made a commitment to himself that was to start him on a path that would change his life.

He resolved simply to approach, and talk to, at least five girls a day, just to learn how to say “Hi” with confidence. “My throat would be closed shut and I’d be nervous and I’d have to deal with eye contact. I did that for a long time, probably six months, just to be able to talk properly.”

A still fairly undergound phenomenon, the seduction community’s own members often disagree about what exactly it stands for: self-improvement and enhanced interpersonal skills, or social manipulation and sexual opportunism; genuinely becoming the best possible version of yourself while really connecting with people you meet, or simply getting laid more efficiently and consistently.

“I think the seduction community has always been moving in a positive direction, regardless of whatever coverage it’s had. That book [The Game] definitely follows the Hollywood story, with the good guy and the bad guy and the ending which reinforces social norms.” Cook said it’s natural for anyone to have a knee-jerk reaction without ever really having investigated the community itself.

“People think that some approaches used by the seduction community are misogynistic and that some aren’t. If a women is exposed to the ones that are misogynistic, it’s natural that she might form an impression of the community from that.” At the same time, Cook said he’s never, ever once seen a woman come out of one of his workshops who wasn’t impressed by it.

“My girlfriend helps me teach them,” he said.

As it’s been stated, the community has many different approaches for an aspiring pickup artist to adopt.

“Some people’s approaches are to learn the magic pick-up lines. They’re basically just a more technical version of their own rotten self.

“Then you’ve got guys who work on change, evolving your self-concept, offering value to women, learning how to be the kind of guy who is more real, more romantic, more playful, more fun, more positive-vibe. The kind of guy who is more naturally attractive.” Cook is currently working on publishing his own book, The Blueprint, which he says is an examination of the way a naturally attractive guy’s mind is wired.

“It’s not about being a clone of the guy who is good with women. It’s about teaching any guy how to cultivate his own style and personality that’s naturally attractive towards women.”

The Blueprint is due out on Valentine’s Day 2007.

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