You may remember Erik von Markovik from VH1's 2007 show The Pick Up Artist. Or, you may know him from Neil Strauss' book The Game. Markovik, who goes by the name “Mystery,” is a pick-up artist who helps the socially inept get beautiful women into bed.
The amount of e-mail I have received about this man over the years has no parallel in my inbox, yet I've never written about him -- until now. This morning, as I nursed a sex hangover with caffeine and cigarettes, a subject in my inbox immediately caught my eye: "Dating is patented?"
I followed the link to find Markovik's patent application for "Interpersonal Pursuit Method," which detailed, in pseudo legalese, the basics of dating: attract, build comfort, seduce.
Curious about the veracity of the potential patent, I immediately contacted Mark R. Matthews, visiting professor of law at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.
"Any process or system can be patented," Matthews told me. "Normally this is an invention you put together, which you see is unique. The idea of patenting dating -- or seduction -- if he has a unique methodology, it's potentially patentable. Could he enforce it when someone develops their own method if it's a derivative of his process? He's welcome to see whether that's going to work. But his idea and method he could certainly patent. I'm not positive whether the patent has been granted – this looks like an application. But if you have a particular method of doing something, this is the way to protect it. It could be anything – social media usage, collecting information – you just have to detail the method and submit it."THE METHOD
From an emotional perspective, the woman places her survival in greater danger by having sex. Evolutionary [sic] speaking, if a man impregnates her, she is dependent upon her emotional pair bond with him to protect her and provide for her during this vulnerable time. If he does not have a pair bond with her, he is likely to move on and she will not have access to his resources. In addition, her reputation for promiscuity will lower her status within her social network, further jeopardizing her survival and replication prospects. Men, by contrast, generally face no such physical or social repercussions for engaging in sex. Sex therefore represents a much greater risk to a woman than it does a man.
As a consequence of these biological factors, women are generally considerably choosier than men, and it is also much more important to a woman that an emotional pair bond exists before she will engage in sex ... It generally takes an average of four to ten cumulative hours of comfort building before a female is ready for seduction. A period of approximately seven hours is preferred.
By this method, called the "Venusian Method" (because no discussion of men and women is complete without a hat tip to John Gray, sigh), a man is to approach a group of women (called a "set") and select the woman he desires ("target"). Markovik details how to "open" a "set" without appearing to be involved in predatory behavior, by never facing them directly with his body and using casual but interesting canned conversation.
He details "shielding strategies" that women use to protect from unwanted male attention -- wearing a ring, saying one has a boyfriend, surrounding herself with friends, being rude, issuing insults, exhibiting negative body language, etc. -- and stresses the importance of overcoming the woman's "protective shield" to achieve the end result (sleeping with her). His methods for this include appearing disinterested (to assure her that he isn't seeking to seduce her), and making negative remarks (which Markovik lovingly refers to as "negs"). Examples of a neg:
"Nice nails, are they real?"
"You can dress her up, but you can't take her anywhere."
"You don't get out much, do you?"
"I just noticed -- your nose moves when you speak."
A neg makes the "target" feel embarrassed and vulnerable, causing her to change tracks and begin seeking a man's validation and approval.
The process continues in this manner, creating a juvenile dance of advance and retreats until, after having turned her disinterest into an overwhelming need to validate herself, the woman in question -- excuse me, the target -- allows herself to be removed from her group of friends for some more intimate conversation ("pair-bonding") and then eventually falls into bed with the man.THE PROBLEM
I don't think I need to express that I find the methodology annoying, but in the interest of transparency, allow me to be clear: I find this methodology annoying.
Now, I agree that seduction requires some strategy and a measure of deceit. I have nothing against calculated deceit when it serves a specific purpose. However, I do have a problem when the end result is a farce. Meaning: I think deceit is not necessarily a bad thing so long as you are clear about the end result.
In this case, the end result is to get someone in bed, but the steps to get there imply the end result is more significant than that. I can't get behind that.
Secondly, Markovik's cat-string theory is rudimentary at best. The advances and retreats meant to engender a state of sexual tension are uninteresting. He offers a game of checkers. We deserve an honest-to-goodness battlefield. Real erotic tension depends on serious obstruction and inconvenience. The end result of such an entanglement isn't something so simple as getting into bed, it's absolute possession -- and I may or may not be speaking about a serious relationship when I say that.
Lastly, if a man ever suggested my nose moves when I speak, I'd invite him to stop looking at me and direct my conversation elsewhere.
And if he had the audacity to ask whether my nails or hair are real, I'd throw my drink in his face. A drink, by the way, that he wouldn't be allowed to purchase for me until he'd proved he had enough merit to do so.THE FLOX METHOD
I tried my hand at this once at the behest of an editor. If you read How To Be The Most Desired Woman In The Room, you'll get a sense of how highly I regard these canned strategies.
In my opinion, whether you're looking for a long-term relationship or a fling, you should go for the full experience. To do this you must realize that every lover is a different country, with different ideas, desires, lexicon and iconography. To orchestrate your liaisons in a standard way is to rob yourself of the explosions and jolts that make the mating dance the heart-racing tango it's supposed to be.
Of course, having spent enough time with this patent application, I may just feel compelled to develop a counter-method.
How To Get Him To Realize Sleeping With You Is Just The Beginning Of A Series Of Explosive Quests To Put The Stuff Of Jason And The Argonauts To Shame may be a tad long for a title.
I'm open to suggestions. In the meantime, I may crash a few of Markovik's "in-field" workshops for inspiration. And personal amusement.
AV Flox is the editor of Sex and the 405 -- what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.
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