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"Saturday Night" -An Article profiled Mystery

That said, dating consultants are nothing new. Mystery-like educators for aspiring amorists were around long before Cyrano de Bergerac helped woo Roxane in the 1897 play by Edmond Rostand. Books that purport to teach one sex how to snare the other are stalwarts of the self-help publishing in-dustry; comparatively current examples include 1995's The Rules by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, and Eric Weber's recently updated guide, How to Pick Up Girls. On the Internet, the father of the seduction community is Ross Jeffries, author of How to Get the Women You Desire into Bed (1992) . Jeffries' technique features something called Neuro-Linguist Programming, which is supposed to attract beautiful women. Jeffries, whose motto is, "You don't get laid, I don't get paid," charges an average admission fee of more than $1,000 for his seminars. By the mid-'90s his community of followers had established a thriving online presence in a newsgroup called alt.seduction.fast, where nascent Lotharios traded war stories and sought advice about how to bed the "gentler sex." But by 1998 his influence within the newsgroup was waning. Much of his advice was unhelpful to a younger generation of philanderers, who were more likely to make their approaches at nightclubs rather than the coffee shops, supermarkets and video stores that Jeffries favored. "I don't do clubs and bars," Jeffries acknowledges.

Mystery was different. He first stumbled upon the seduction community in September 1998, and his presence rapidly reinvigorated activity there. Alt.se-duction.fast, or ASF as it was known to frequent posters, was characterized by a communitarian ethic. Most of the posts were candid appeals for dating advice from adolescents and twenty-something males. Realizing that the time he'd spent in bars made him far more experienced at picking up than most of the newsgroup membership, Mystery began answering these appeals, and it soon became apparent that the advice he imparted to the sophomore seduc-tionistos contradicted much of the group's conventional wisdom. "Don't buy a girl a beer. Don't buy a girl a flower. In fact, don't think about picking her up," Mystery counseled one member. "Rather, think about attracting her [emphasis added] ." Hostilities in the form of vituperative newsgroup posts, or "flames," developed between Mystery and a veteran poster, known as Jimmy the HuN, coincidentally also a resident of Toronto. Mystery challenged Jimmy to a battle: they would meet at a nightclub, and then compete to pick up the most beautiful woman. When Jimmy didn't show, Mystery convinced the rest of the newsgroup to ostracize him, effectively consolidating the new-comer's leadership.

From the beginning, Mystery preferred to keep his age and real identity secret. But as the months passed, he provided the then-fledgling seduction community with regular reports on his pickup experiences. The reports revealed details about his life. Mystery eked out a living as a magi-cian, performing for corporate parties and nightclubs in Toronto and, occasionally, Los Angeles. He was 6' 5", with a slim build, shoulder-length dark hair, hazel eyes and black-lacquered finger-nails. He lived in a suburb, but frequently traveled downtown to try to pick up women. At his busiest, in 2000, he went to clubs four nights a week and averaged three to five phone numbers a night. What the community referred to as "the game" was a compulsion he felt driven to pursue. But exactly what drove that compulsion Mystery didn't explain. After meeting with three other pickup artists, Mystery posted to the newsgroup: "It was almost weird to meet up with people who share my interest this much. I have felt rather alone in this obsession. My best friends in Toronto TOL-ERATE my little PU [pickup] hobby but I don't think they under-stand the ZEN behind it all.. .I LOVE talking about this shit and to do it live with people who share this obsession (without think-ing its WRONG or something) is awesome."


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