- Many PUAs consider women to be ‘extremely manipulative’ creatures who like to use men for money and security, and therefore deserve to be treated thus. And finally, for the vast majority of PUAs, it is all about ‘laying as many women as possible in one lifetime’.
- Seduction artistry might be new to Kenya, but worldwide, it has been a phenomenon since it first came to media attention in 2005. Neil Strauss, a self-confessed PUA, popularised it in the book by The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.
- Being a PUA means belonging to a club of ‘bros’ who regularly go out together, play wingman for each other and keep track of each other’s progress in the bedding stakes. They even have unique terms for the things they do: ‘HB’ means ‘hot babe’, which is what they are always looking for.
You’re at a club with your girlfriends, unwinding after a hard day, when suddenly, a guy none of you knows cuts in. “I need a female opinion on something, as long as you all look like nice people. First, are you friendly?” he asks cockily. However, since he looks decent and has asked politely, you all say, “Yes.” He proceeds with his question.
“I’m having a debate with my friends over there,” (points to an adjacent table where his male friends are sitting), “on who you think cheats more: Men or women?” And just like that, the ladies jump into the ‘discussion’ and before long, both groups have been merged and the men have broken the ice.
This, according to Blina Ventos (real name Ahmed Said), Kenya’s only visible pickup artist (PUA), is how you disarm a group of women in this kind of surrounding. Since you’ve gotten the whole group involved, it will be easier to later on ‘swoop in’ on the one you had eyed all along without being ‘blocked’ by her friends.
‘Picking up’ the woman you have been eyeing is much easier this way, he says, and it doesn’t matter how much you think she is ‘out of your league’. Blina has been a pickup artist – another term for ‘seduction artist’ – for the last six years, even though he is currently only 24 years old. He also teaches men how to approach and get the women they desire but think they can’t have due to their lack of interpersonal skills.
He explains what inspired him to do this. “Whenever I went out I would see men doing the wrong things when trying to connect with women. It hurts because the women are missing out on meeting men of a rare breed (because the men are too shy to approach them).” Blina set up Project Alpha, a company that seeks to ‘improve Kenyan and African men’s lives by equipping them with skills to get the women they’ve always wanted without coming across as needy, and to also make women chase them.’
As far as Blina is concerned, too many Kenyan men are ignorantly using money to seduce women yet still go home alone after a hard-fought night. He teaches such men to become the ‘alpha males’ that women crave.
Seduction artistry might be new to Kenya, but worldwide, it has been a phenomenon since it first came to media attention in 2005. Neil Strauss, a self-confessed PUA, popularised it in the book by The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which details the author’s adventures in the PUA world. Neil used the name ‘Styles’ as his moniker while investigating the PUA community and working his way into becoming one.
Pickup artistry is about turning men into sexual and/or relationship conquistadors. Seduction artistry teachers dispense techniques and lines that men can use to get women to willingly give themselves over for a night or for a lifetime, depending on what the man wants.
Being a PUA means belonging to a club of ‘bros’ who regularly go out together, play wingman for each other and keep track of each other’s progress in the bedding stakes. They even have unique terms for the things they do: ‘HB’ means ‘hot babe’, which is what they are always looking for. A ‘HB’ will generally rank at about eight and above on the ‘hotness’ scale of one to10.
‘Sarging’ means ‘going out to meet women’. ‘Day game’ means doing so during the day, say at shopping malls, concerts and restaurants, while ‘night game’ defines nighttime activities, which generally means going out to clubs and bars. ‘3sec rule’ means that a man must make contact with a women three seconds after making eye contact, and ‘closing’ means the woman has fallen for his charms and the deal has been sealed.
Critiques of seduction artistry say it is misogynistic, for its objectification of women. Women are regarded purely as trophies. Ranking women purely on their looks and picking them up using a standard set of lines makes no attempt to recognise a woman as an individual with unique likes and dislikes.
Many PUAs consider women to be ‘extremely manipulative’ creatures who like to use men for money and security, and therefore deserve to be treated thus. And finally, for the vast majority of PUAs, it is all about ‘laying as many women as possible in one lifetime’.
In his book, Strauss says, “A side effect of sarging is that it can lower one’s opinion of the opposite sex.” And yet, as he has describes it, the inverse is true: a low opinion of the opposite sex is a prerequisite for sarging.
PUAs believe that the easiest women to pick up are those with low self-confidence. So much so that in order to get a ‘HB’, it is crucial to make the girl feel like she’s not worthy of the man. One of their militaristic rules is to “destroy your enemy completely” by opening with a ‘put-down’ rather than a compliment.
They also generally advocate for club or bar settings because a drunk woman is vulnerable. Blina says his aim is different; he just wants to help socially awkward men learn how to talk to women. “A lot of my clients end up in long-term relationships. ‘Pick up’ is not just about knowing how to get that ideal woman; we also teach that in the end, it’s more about finding that one woman who you’ll build a future with.”
Indeed, he teaches husbands, boyfriends and fiancés how to keep things exciting in their relationships. “The PUA game is not so much about being in relationships, it’s about having fun,” he says. “I always tell my students that these lessons are for you to uncover a woman’s inner demons and take her to your world where normal rules don’t apply. End gamers are the ones who are in relationships, and that’s about mastering how to keep women.” He acknowledges, however, that there are beginners and mid-gamers who are in it purely for fun.
Blina currently happens to be in a relationship, and he doesn’t advocate for women being used. “My girlfriend enjoys having ‘Mr Ladies Man’ committed to her, making all the women jealous,” he says. “She is okay with who I am and what I do; that’s why I chose her. I highly respect women and that’s why they love me, ha ha.”
His clientele includes men of different ages and backgrounds, and a lot of his clients are foreigners from places as far-flung as Nigeria, India, Sweden. “I do Friday night lectures with them via Skype.” And business looks like it will bloom. “People have started noticing and wanting to become men who ‘have what it takes’ to tackle these life challenges,” he says. However, he admits that he is yet to break through in Kenya since the PUA community has been largely secretive and very little is known about them locally.
Blina lives in Mombasa, and prices depend on the services one requires. He charges $40 (Sh4,000) an hour for weekly Skype sessions. Clients can also spend a day with him, and this includes one-on-one lessons, an apartment to stay in and transport around Mombasa. This costs $150 (Sh15,000). One can also participate in a three-day boot camp for $350 (Sh35,000), including apartment, nightclub passes and transport around Mombasa.