A cadre of guru-like leaders appeared with a set of elaborate rites, precisely defined techniques, and an acronym-laden private language known only to initiates—purposely designed to appeal to men, whose minds seem to thrive on ritual, hierarchy, and complex esoterica (think baseball statistics, Scout badges, the military, the Catholic Mass, and the Freemasons). Jeffries pioneered the coinage of distinctive seduction lingo—his most widely used neologism: “sarging,” named after his cat Sarge and meaning trolling the bars for desirable women—as well as the use of the Internet.

His website, Speed Seduction, is going strong hawking CDs, DVDs, software tutorials, and personal coaching in pickup techniques.

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His email account of the last escapade made its way to laughs around the country.

At the Hampton Inn where Max was staying, he introduced Courtney to his dog: “Say hello to the new slut.” The next morning, after some sessions of “jackhammering a sidewalk,” as she described his sexual technique (although she did concede that he was a “great kisser”), he handed her $20 for the taxi ride of shame back to her apartment. A.”, feminist Jaclyn Friedman, who inexplicably blamed Max’s perverse success with females (half his fans, perhaps the more enthusiastic half, are female) on abstinence-only sex education, sniffed that she found his “antics revolting,” blasted his “unapologetic misogyny,” and accused him of contributing to a campus atmosphere that allows 150,000 young women to be raped every academic year.

(Friedman derived that extraordinarily high figure by counting drunken sexual encounters between students as rape.) Amanda Marcotte, the feminist blogger briefly hired by John Edwards during his presidential campaign, chimed in, accusing Max of a “bone-deep hatred of sexual women”—and also of possible “sexual assault” because he had bragged on his website about sleeping with a drunk girl while a friend hidden in a closet filmed the encounter. Next to her story she posted a photograph of her with Max that she had a friend take at the bar.

In May, feminist picketers so disrupted an appearance by Max at Ohio State University that he needed a police escort to get away. The photo shows a rosy-cheeked strawberry blonde who, although no Scarlett Johansson, is no Ugly Betty either (her C-cup bustline, much in evidence both underneath and spilling over her strapless top, doesn’t hurt).

Mystery also pioneered the now-widely imitated weekend-long “workshops” or “boot camps” in hotels aimed at turning AFCs into PUAs nearly overnight.

Attendees are shepherded to bars for hands-on experience by master-PUA “trainers” with their own pseudonymous monickers (Captain Jack, Hi Roller, Keychain, and so forth). Mystery’s website, Venusian Arts, doesn’t list prices, but the three-day workshops marketed by Venusian Arts’s top competitor, Love Systems—run by Nick Savoy (real name Nicholas Benedict), a business partner of Mystery’s until a nasty 2007 split—cost ,997 apiece, with a 9 deposit.And buyer, beware: Although nearly all the master PUAs, including Mystery himself, insist that in their former lives they were socially hopeless geeks who had scarcely ventured within five feet of a nubile woman, many of the trainers, at least at Love Systems, have backgrounds in sales or show business and may not really resemble the introverted IT guys and cubicle nerds who seek their advice.Watching video-clips of workshops in session, with flashily attired mentors strutting and spurting acronyms in front of earnest pupils in search of arm candy will remind you of nothing so much as those all-day “Get Rich Buying Foreclosed Property for Pennies” seminars that target another male yearning.You don’t buy her a drink; you offer to let her buy you one.You don’t give her your phone number; you get her to give you hers, in what Mystery calls a “number closing.” If she asks you what you do for a living, you don’t mention the drone desk job that you actually hold down; you tell her you “repair disposable razors” (the choice of a Mystery disciple).The birth of the seduction business coincided neatly with the sexual revolution: with the 1970 publication of sometime film editor Eric Weber’s bestselling manual (later made into a movie) .