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"Charm school" helps men perfect the pick-up


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By Matthew Verrinder

Mon Aug 14, 8:59 AM ET




NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ben had a rough Friday night picking up women on the Hotel Gansevoort's balcony after being coldly rejected by two attractive blonds.


The 23-year-old documentary filmmaker, who asked his last name not be used for fear of ridicule, suffers from an acute case of "premature ejectulation" -- ejecting himself early from promising conversations with women for fear of rejection.


Such was the diagnosis from the coaches of "Charm School Boot Camp," a three-day crash course on seducing women that Ben and five other men paid $1,600 apiece for in early August.


"If I were to look at it objectively, I would feel really good about it, and then just leave," Ben said.


Ben is not the only man with crippling fears when it comes to chatting up women. That's why Charm School, run by an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company called Charisma Arts, has no problem finding men who need intense guidance and fieldwork approaching women at places like bookstores and bars.


"People think we're teaching guys with no confidence who are bad with women," said Charisma Arts co-founder Wayne Elise. "We teach guys how to be themselves in a very unnatural environment, how to cold approach strangers and make them comfortable enough to open themselves up."


Charisma Arts runs weekend Charm School seminars in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and Sydney. Some students find out about the course from the company's Web site, www.charismaarts.com.


The Charm School's lesson plan stays away from canned lines and instructs men to think on their feet when talking to women, to put their insecurities aside and react naturally to a women's subtle cues, said Johnny Saviour, 21, a Charisma Arts instructor.


The class starts on Friday afternoon with the instructors going over Elise's attraction theory. They then practice the theory by approaching each other as if they were women, and they do word association exercises to get their minds tuned into keeping a conversation with a woman rolling.


After a night approaching women at a bar or club, the instructors hold a debriefing the next morning and go over what the participants did right and wrong. Then they head out again to hit on more women.




Ben and the five other participants, ranging in age from 21 to 43, met with their four coaches Saturday at a McDonald's near Union Square, the morning after a deflating evening of hitting on women at the Gansevoort.


Sam, a stocky, recent college graduate from Boston with shaved head and thick chain around his neck, said he is tired of sleeping with "drunk chicks" and wants to learn how to properly "pursue and attain" the women of his choice.


Tim, 23, a New York piano tuner, said his new full-time job makes it hard for him to meet women.


"This was something I was willing to splurge on," said Tim, who also did not want to give his last name. "I live in a city with millions of women, and I want to meet some of them."


Ben said that despite his lack of luck with women on Friday night, he tried to "learn a little from each interaction."


Forty minutes later, he was standing in a nearby Barnes & Noble book store, eyeing a small woman in a hat and glasses who was thumbing through a book. He sidled up to her and took a book from a shelf near her, but she didn't notice him and soon walked away without talking to him.


"A lot of guys defeat themselves right away," Saviour whispered, looking on. "If he thinks she's not interested, he'll clam up. That's exactly what happened."


To get Ben back on track, Savior has him talk to a male store clerk so he can interact with another person without pressure. Soon, Ben approaches another woman but she too walks away without noticing him.


"I feel a bit shaken up," Ben said after his latest rejection. "There is information coming from a lot of different places. I feel a bit like a pickup artist."


By the early hours of Sunday at a crowded rooftop bar on Fifth Avenue, Ben finally has a confident glow. Other Charm School students are partying on the fringes of a drunken bachelorette party full of New Jersey women.


But Ben, dressed in a dark shirt and slacks and standing tall in the middle of the crowd, has already talked to four groups of women by 11:30 p.m., made some connections and is on the lookout for more.


Just a day into Charm School, Ben says he has begun to absorb some of its tenets, like honestly justifying to the women why he has approached them, genuinely stating their uniqueness, then making slight, gentlemanly physical contact, like a touch of the arm at just the right time.


"I would say in terms of last night's performance, I've definitely found my path to fulfillment," he said. "Last night I felt uncomfortable, but I've taken in what they've taught me. I've been myself, and it's worked."





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