The History and Controversy of Pickup Artists

Reg B

Hatched by Reg B

Oct 10, 2023

3 min read


The History and Controversy of Pickup Artists


The world of pickup artists, often referred to as PUAs, has gained significant attention and controversy over the years. These individuals are known for practicing seductive techniques and strategies to attract and engage with potential romantic partners. While the concept may seem relatively new, the modern pickup artist practice dates back to at least 1970, with the publication of Eric Weber's book "How to Pick Up Girls!" However, the roots of this phenomenon can be traced back even further.

The Early Influencers

Before the term pickup artist became widely known, there were individuals who paved the way for this practice. One of them was Albert Ellis, a rational emotive psychotherapist who wrote "The Art of Erotic Seduction" in 1967. Ellis encouraged men to meet women through the art of pickup, setting the stage for future pickup artists to follow.

The Rise of Ross Jeffries

In 1991, Ross Jeffries emerged as a prominent figure in the pickup artist community. He taught workshops and promoted a collection of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques called "speed seduction" (SS). Jeffries even published a book titled "How to Get the Women You Desire into Bed" to share his techniques with others.

The Pickup Artist Community

As the popularity of pickup techniques grew, other individuals began establishing themselves within the community. In 1994, Lewis De Payne, a student of Ross Jeffries, founded the newsgroup (ASF). This online platform became the birthplace of a vast network of discussion forums, email lists, blogs, and websites where pickup techniques could be exchanged.

The Pickup Artist Gurus

Within the pickup artist community, several individuals gained recognition as "seduction gurus" or simply "gurus." These gurus developed their unique methods and strategies, attracting followers who sought to improve their dating and relationship skills. Some notable gurus include Julien Blanc, Neil Strauss, Erik von Markovik, and Roosh V.

Mainstream Awareness and Controversy

The pickup artist community gained mainstream awareness in 1999 with the release of the movie "Magnolia," featuring Tom Cruise as a charismatic yet troubled pickup guru inspired by Ross Jeffries. However, it was journalist Neil Strauss who truly brought pickup techniques to a wider audience with his book "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists." This exposé on the PUA community became a New York Times Bestseller and ignited both curiosity and controversy.

Criticism and Controversy

While pickup artists have their fair share of supporters, they also face significant criticism and controversy. The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled Roosh V as hateful and a misogynist for his views on women and sex. Feminist BDSM writer and activist Clarisse Thorn has criticized the PUA community as being sexist and problematic. She argues that while PUA tactics are worth understanding, they ultimately reflect wider societal beliefs and patterns of human sexual behavior.

Actionable Advice for Navigating the Pickup Artist Community

  • 1. Educate Yourself: If you find yourself curious about pickup techniques, take the time to explore various perspectives and understand the underlying dynamics. By broadening your knowledge, you can form a more informed opinion.
  • 2. Question Gender Roles: It's crucial to critically examine the gender roles and power dynamics that pickup artists often perpetuate. By challenging these norms, you can foster healthier and more respectful relationships.
  • 3. Seek Ethical Alternatives: If you're interested in improving your dating and relationship skills, consider seeking guidance from dating coaches who emphasize consent, respect, and healthy communication. These coaches can provide valuable insights without resorting to manipulative tactics.


The world of pickup artists has a complex history and remains a topic of both intrigue and controversy. While some individuals have found success through pickup techniques, others have criticized the community for its sexist and pseudoscientific nature. By educating ourselves, questioning gender roles, and seeking ethical alternatives, we can navigate this landscape with greater awareness and understanding.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)