They all feature pictures of scantily clad supermodel-like females and the same acronym-laden jargon ultimately traceable to Jeffries: a “PUA” is a “pickup artist”; an “AFC” is an “average frustrated chump” who hasn’t paid a guru to learn how to be a PUA; an “HB” is a “hot babe”; an “IOI” is an HB’s “indicator of interest” in a PUA, such as leaning in his direction or “accidentally” brushing his hand.Jeffries’s most famous pupil is a Canadian-born former stage magician called Erik James Horvat-Markovic who subsequently changed his name first to Erik von Markovik and later to just plain Mystery.
Left behind like flares, double-knits, and dancing the Bus Stop, the art of the pickup was reborn in the 1990s and rebranded as an exact science.(Durden coined the phrase “chick crack” in reference to astrology, palm-reading, spells, ESP, dream-analysis, handwriting analysis, personality tests, and other New Age-y preoccupations of females that make great openers for men willing to feign interest in them.) Mystery’s identity transformation was the most thorough, successful, and influential.His 2007 book, , ran for two seasons on VH1 in 2007-08 (the show’s luster was somewhat diminished after it emerged that the winner of the first season’s get-the-girl sweepstakes was a professional actor instead of the video-game programmer that he said he was).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.