Real World Rapport Summit: Day One

Feb 29 2008: The Real World Rapport Summit, the Sherator Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

10:00 a.m. (or thereabouts): Daniel Johnson, a David Spade type but 20 yrs younger and one of dating coaches with Lance Mason’s Pickup 101 (the host of this three-day event) comes out to whip a crowd of about 80 guys (ages 20-50s) into something like a frenzy on this Friday a.m. Thanks to Zan, I’m sitting in the back with the rest of the dating gurus. This is my chance to pass myself off as someone who knows something about dating. Hopefully no one will ask.

10:30: Lance in pink shirt comes out to tell us what’s gonna be going on. The whole conference is geared towards meeting women during the day. To that end we’re in a hotel conference room in San Francisco more or less 12 hours straight. However, there are the Supergirls.

11:30 a.m.: Out come the Supergirls: Alexandra, Karisma, Yuko. They take a seat on the red couch onstage. Lance talks about “male cleavage”–confidence. Brings up three guys from the audience to demonstrate their “male cleavage,” then gives them some tips about keeping their jaws slack. It’s important “for changing states.”

12:30 p.m. Lance tells us the three reasons to meet women during the day: it’s easier, they live in your neighbourhood, and they’re already doing things you like to do (he’s obviously never been in a comic book store). “Dating gurus” Grant Adams (net2bed) and David Wygant (apparently the inspiration for Will Smith’s character in the movie Hitch) arrive and take a seat in the back. I bask in the aura of three dating gurus (Zan’s back here too). Lance starts talking about “backpocket openers”–a default opening line you can pull out under any circumstance. Then, he demonstrates one of the Supergirls by asking her the time as they’re about to walk past each other, then before she can give it to him he says, “You know what? actually, I just wanted to flirt with you.” seems to work for him. Wygant gets up there and demonstrates his technique, which is to ask for a sip of her coffee (assuming she’s holding a cuppa). At a restaurant, ask for a bite of her food, or ask her if she’s going to finish it. “She never does,” he says. He’s got the timing and delivery of a standup. A Pickup 101 dude with crazy hair, Eric Disco, asks for directions, and depending on her answer says whether or not “this will work.” Sean, a big guy who looks like Seth Rogan, demonstrates his technique–getting her attention, saying something that makes him feel good (“Oh good, I’m glad that’s over, that’s the most awkward part” he says after introducing himself).

3:00 p.m. Pickup fatigue starting to set in. A guy named Benny comes over to the table at the back. Grant Adams is madly typing away on his keyboard. Benny asks who I am. “I’m with Zan,” I say. “Who’s Zan?” he asks. Benny just spent his lunch hour (when we were supposed to be approaching girls) on the phone. “Girlfriend problems,” he explains.

3:45: Brent Smith gets up there with the Supergirls and demonstrates his approach. He goes over, says hi, asks a couple of questions, and invites them out for a champagne party later. No gimmicks, no trickery, but he has California golden boy looks, a better looking Owen Wilson. Still, he claims that what he does can work for anyone, no matter what they look like–they just have to believe it can happen. Sounds a little too The Secret-ish to me.

4:30: Lance recommends making everyone your dating coach. If there’s a coffee shop you regularly go into where you don’t flirt, start flirting. To recalibrate someone’s response to you, simply say, “I’ve been thinking about our relationship…” Sounds funny.

5:20: Daily openers with Wygant, Eric Disco, Daniel Johnson. Wygant is on fire; he is by far the most entertaining of the bunch so far. No matter what the scenario–at an airport, on a treadmill with headphones on, bookstore, on the subway, he’s got a routine. What’s more, it’s a routine but it’s also completely spontaneous. He makes it look easy; he’s inspiring. His clothing store bit, where he walks up to the clerk, holds up his hands in abject surrender and says, “Help me!” is pure gold. He’s got some cool exercises too, ones that I as a writer can relate to, about observation. For instance: watch five minutes of Oceans Eleven. Stop. Write down what you just watched. Go back and see how much you observed. That’s how much attention (say, if you wrote down 10%) you pay in your daily life.

7:20 Supergirls are back out for an eye contact exercise that’s one of the best demonstrations of the day. Lance stand by the three of them looking over and instructs them to give various looks back–disinterested, disinterested but polite, interested but not right now, interested. It’s very illuminating; something that might register on the subconscious is being brought to the surface. Lance has a good line about Sheba, how she gives a look: “I’m ending the conversation [with the eyes] but I’m showing you how cute I am.”

8:30-10:00: Dinner break. We go to nearby Bourdin’s, but there’s too many of us. Lance takes all the speakers and Supergirls into a back room, leaving a bunch of us chumps with Don Diego Garcia. The Stylelife Academy (founded by The Game author Neil Strauss) guru walks us through a chart he’s made up of a seduction model. The colours are pretty and he talks a pretty good game. He also wears a shoulder holster with no gun and tells us he lost his virginity 20 years ago at 15 and has experienced a dry spell of no longer than 3 weeks. I hate him.

10:00: Back in the conference room for a “vibing exercise.” Three volunteers from the audience get onstage. Eric and Daniel demonstrate the art of conversation, of taking a word and building it into a back-and-forth that takes an emotional turn.

11:00: Alexandra, one of the Supergirls who is actually the only female dating coach with Pickup 101 (and is dating Daniel), is on the phone. I walk by and she says it’s her grandmother’s birthday and hands me the phone. “It’s her 18th birthday,” she says, which totally confuses me until she reminds me it’s a Leap Year. “She’s only had 18 birthdays” suddenly sort of makes sense except I can’t do the math at that point and anyway I’m talking to Alexandra’s gram in Seattle wishing her a happy birthday. Then it’s up to Zan’s room for a debriefing and some vodka. Many revelations and impassioned speeches about the beauty of women later I stumble back to my room for a fitful slumber.

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