An anonymous conference room in a hotel which could be anywhere, and hundreds of young men are diligently taking notes as a bearded speaker in jeans and T-shirt parades across the stage in front of them.
‘You should have multiple excuses to get her to your place,’ he tells them. ‘Who here has that? How are you going to get the girl out of the club . . . how are you going to get her in your room, how are you going to get her on your bed?’
Around him the audience – mostly 20-something men – lap up every word. They have paid upwards of S$2000 to listen to the rantings of Julien Blanc.
Blanc is the 25-year-old self-styled ‘pick-up artist’ and ‘dating coach’ who hit the headlines this week when his tour of Australia was axed due to concerns over the violent, woman-hating content of his seminars.
Police in Victoria confirmed that Blanc, who originally planned to stay in the country until December, had left and his visa had been cancelled.
So who is Blanc and what does he do to provoke such outrage?
In a nutshell, he advises those who want to learn his ‘seduction’ techniques to treat women with chilling disrespect and contempt, boasting that his followers will acquire ‘panty-dropping masculinity’ and learn to destroy the female ‘b****-shield’.
Deeper in his shady world, it becomes clear some of his ‘pick-up’ methods are even more disturbing, often going so far as to encourage sexually abusive behaviour.
Take his predilection for approaching women and clasping their throats while putting his finger on his lips and saying ‘shhh’.
Videos of him indulging in such sickening antics are online, under the hashtag #ChokingGirlsAroundtheWorld.
His Twitter account, meanwhile, reveals further frightening insights into his mind: ‘Dear girls, could you please save me the effort and roofie (spike) your own drink? #JustKidding’ reads one post.
Then there is Blanc’s claim on his website, that by following his instructions, even the most unprepossessing of men can ‘short-circuit’ a woman’s ’emotional and logical mind.’
In short, the goal is to make women yield to intercourse despite their better judgement.
This appears to have earned Blanc and his business partners a fortune.
Together they travel the world, hosting eye-poppingly expensive seminars – a ‘bootcamp’ costs upwards of S$2500.
Worryingly, the values they espouse are typical of the so-called Pick-up Artist – or PUA – movement. Led by ‘gurus’ such as Blanc, and promoted through books and online forums, its young male followers dedicate their lives to meeting and seducing women.
The trend was popularised in the Seventies in How To Pick Up Girls by Eric Weber, which was marketed as a ‘foolproof’ guide to meeting – and seducing – women.
Several imitations followed, before Neil Strauss’s book, The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society Of Pick-up Artists in 2005, in which the author detailed his rise to success as a seduction guru. It became a New York Times bestseller.
All books in the genre are united by a similar theme: no matter how geeky the guy, a basic understanding of social psychology will allow them to manipulate even the most beautiful woman into their bed.
Among tactics they promote are ‘isolating’ girls from their friends and offering a thinly-veiled insult as a compliment, such as ‘you’re very brave to have short hair, as it doesn’t suit most people’, in order to undermine.
The books, and the online forums they spawned, have become a magnet for not only socially inept men, but also for the seriously unbalanced.
Blanc Pain — A History
Born in Switzerland and educated in Europe, he gave up a place at business school after two years to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music.
There he befriended Tyler Cook, founder of dating advice site Real Social Dynamics, which markets seminars to men who wish to improve their chances with the opposite sex, The firm is based on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip.
Beyond that, Blanc’s CV is a mystery, though on his own website he writes that he was a ‘shy, stuck-up guy with horrible skills with women’ who ‘would get stifled in every “normal” social situation.’
The turning point in his fortunes came when he read The Game book and started to employ its techniques, quickly becoming an accomplished flirt. ‘It’s offensive. It’s inappropriate. It’s Emotionally Scarring. BUT IT’S DAMN EFFECTIVE,’ Blanc writes of his techniques on his website.
Followers offer enthusiastic testimonials to his methods
‘A completely amoral, highly lethal weapon obsessively dedicated to his all-consuming purpose: getting YOU laid,’ reads one.
‘When most people would go to jail for what he yells in public places – he gets laid,’ writes another.
There’s a ring of truth – many of Blanc’s views are deeply disturbing.
Take a video of a recent seminar – now removed from his website – in which he boasts of ‘romping’ through Tokyo ‘grabbing girls.’
‘If you’re a white male, you can do what you want,’ he says. ‘I’m romping through the streets just like grabbing girls . . . like head on d***. Every foreigner who is white does this. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Even more disturbingly, Blanc has suggested men should copy his odious ‘choking’ technique and grab women’s throats to attract their attention. ‘Most people wouldn’t do that,’ he says.
‘By me doing it and getting away with it, bang, now I stand out. She’s like “oh s*** here’s that main guy, here’s, like, that rock star, here’s that celeb.” As long as it’s genuine fun, you can choose the girl.’