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The book then narrates the journey of how Strauss goes through the stages of. Neil Strauss was quoted in a review by Steven Poole in The Guardian as saying.

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Strauss in January 2009
March 9, 1969 (age 50)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[1]
Other namesStyle, Chris Powles
CitizenshipAmerican, Kittitian
The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

Neil Darrow Strauss, also known by the pen names Style and Chris Powles (born March 9, 1969) is an American author, journalist and ghostwriter. He is best known for his book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, in which he describes his experiences in the seduction community in an effort to become a 'pick-up artist.' He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also wrote regularly for The New York Times.[2]

Education and initial career[edit]

After graduating from high school at the Latin School of Chicago in 1987,[3] Strauss attended Vassar College,[4][5] then transferred to[6] and subsequently graduated from Columbia University in 1991.[7] While in school he began his career writing for Ear, an avant-garde magazine, and editing his first book, Radiotext(e), an anthology of radio-related writings for the postmodern publisher Semiotext(e). He moved on to The Village Voice, where, prior to becoming a reporter and critic, he took on tasks ranging from copy-editing to fact-checking to writing copy. [8] He was invited by Jon Pareles[9] to become a music critic at The New York Times where he wrote the Pop Life column and front-page stories on Wal-Mart's CD-editing policies, music censorship, radio payola, and the lost wax figures of country-music stars.[10]

He was then invited by Jann Wenner to become a contributing editor at Rolling Stone where he wrote cover stories on Kurt Cobain, Madonna, Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, the Wu-Tang Clan, Gwen Stefani, Stephen Colbert, and Marilyn Manson.

He won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his coverage of Kurt Cobain's suicide for Rolling Stone and his profile of Eric Clapton in The New York Times Arts & Leisure section. Strauss also contributed to Esquire, Maxim, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, Details, and The Source in addition to writing liner notes for albums by Nirvana and others.[11] He has also appeared in Beck's music video Sexx Laws which also featured Jack Black, in Thirty Seconds to Mars' video Up in the Air, and he made a brief appearance as a cancer patient in episode 4, season six of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Game and the seduction community[edit]

After leaving The New York Times to ghostwrite Jenna Jameson's memoirs, Strauss joined a sub-culture of pick-up artists known as the seduction community, creating the persona of 'Style' in 2001[12] and pseudonym of 'Chris Powles', eventually publishing an article in The New York Times about his experiences in 2004.[13] In 2005, he published The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists (Regan Books, 2005), a book about his transformation into 'Style', a pickup artist under the tutelage of Mystery. In addition to documenting his experiences with pickup artists like Mystery, Steve P, Rasputin (Hypnotica), Ross Jeffries, and numerous others, it also describes his interactions with celebrities including Britney Spears,[14]Tom Cruise, and Courtney Love.

The book made a month-long appearance in The New York Times bestsellers list in September–October 2005, and reached the #1 position on Amazon.com immediately after its release in the United States. Strauss appeared on various TV shows, including The View and ABC Primetime, and he participated in many book signings.[15][16] It was optioned to be made into a film by Spyglass Entertainment, with Chris Weitz adapting and producing.[17]

After publishing the book, Strauss temporarily retired as a pickup artist and settled with a longtime girlfriend Lisa Leveridge, who played guitar in Courtney Love's all-female band The Chelsea.[18]

An article in the Sunday Mirror suggested that Leveridge broke up with Strauss in February 2006 to date Robbie Williams.[19] Strauss denied the Williams rumor, but confirmed his breakup with Leveridge on his mailing list a few months later.[citation needed]

His follow-up book, the graphic novel How to Make Money Like a Porn Star, was published on September 26, 2006. The same year, 'Shoot', Strauss' short film about becoming a rock star, was released. He co-wrote, directed and performed in Shoot. Also in 2006, in collaboration with Dave Navarro and Entourage writer Cliff Dorfman, he created a one-hour TV drama The Product for FX.[20] He also worked with James Gandolfini on a show, Roadies, for HBO.[21] In 2007, he released a follow-up to The Game,Rules of the Game, a two-book boxed set.

Strauss has continued to be involved with pickup artistry through his dating coaching company Stylelife Academy, founded in 2007. Most of the coaching is done by employed coaches, rather than Strauss himself, though he does make appearances at yearly conferences and in some video products sold by the company.[22]

In 2012, Strauss released a board game/party game as a follow up to The Game and Rules of the Game called 'Who's Got Game? The Game with Benefits.'[23]

On August 31, 2013, Strauss married the model Ingrid De La O, whom he met in 2010. Before the wedding, he held a funeral-themed bachelor's party, laying to rest his 'Style' persona.[24]

In March 2015, Strauss had a child and shared it on his website,[25] along with information on his new book, The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships, which was released on October 13, 2015. The Truth, a sequel to The Game, covers his struggles to build and maintain a relationship with Ingrid after his years of immersion in the seduction community.


On March 4, 2009, The New York Times wrote that Strauss (along with rock biographer Anthony Bozza) had started his own publishing company, Igniter, as an imprint of HarperCollins. Igniter's first title was The Man Behind the Nose, published in 2010. It was followed by Satan Is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, published in 2012.[26]

Strauss's book Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life (Harper, 2009), for which he spent three years amongst survivalists, tax-dodgers, billionaire businessmen, and the government itself,[27] was hailed by Rolling Stone as an 'escape plan' for the current world crisis.[citation needed] It entered The New York Times bestseller list at #3.[28] He received the presidents Volunteer Service Award for his search-and-rescue work during the writing of Emergency.[1] The rights to the movie were picked up by Columbia Pictures, with Robert Downey Jr.. attached as a producer and probable lead actor.[29] In 2010, Strauss received the James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin.[30]

Neil Strauss's 2011 release entitled Everyone Loves You When You're Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness was also a New York Times bestseller.[31] Released March 15, 2011, the book is a compilation of 228 celebrity vignettes conducted throughout Strauss's career as a pop culture journalist.

The Truth[edit]

Neil Strauss's 2015 release entitled The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships was also a New York Times bestseller. Released in October, 2015, this autobiographical book covers his attempts to form and maintain a long-term relationship following his years in the seduction community. It made the November 1, 2015 NYTimes bestseller list[32]

Several detailed reviews were published in Grantland[33] and the Chicago Tribune[34]after its publication.

I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons[edit]

In June, 2017, I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons was published with co-author Kevin Hart and immediately was a #1 NY Times Bestseller.[35]

Notable works[edit]

  • The Long Hard Road Out of Hell with Marilyn Manson (1998) ISBN0-06-098746-4
  • The Dirt with Mötley Crüe (2001) ISBN0-06-098915-7
  • How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale with Jenna Jameson (2004) ISBN0-06-053909-7
  • The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists (2005) ISBN0-06-055473-8
  • How to Make Money Like a Porn Star, illustrated by Bernard Chang (2006) ISBN0-06-088405-3
  • Rules of the Game (2007) ISBN0-06-154045-5
  • Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life (2009) ISBN0-06-089877-1
  • Everyone Loves You When You're Dead: Journeys Into Fame and Madness (2011) ISBN0-06-154367-5
  • The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships (2015) ISBN978-0060898762


  1. ^ abStrauss, Neil (2009). Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life. Harper. p. 407. ISBN978-0-06-089877-9.
  2. ^'Times Topics – Neil Strauss'. The New York Times. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
  3. ^Latin Magazine,Fall 2011, p. 46
  4. ^The Game, p. 77
  5. ^The metrosexual as lion, review of The Game by Bernard Chapin, January 9, 2006
  6. ^'Regrets of a pick-up artist', The Age, March 28, 2011, by Robyn Doreian
  7. ^Columbia College Today, May/June 2006:'The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss ’91.'
  8. ^Interview: Neil Strauss, Author, Slushpile, November 7, 2005, retrieved April 23, 2015
  9. ^Singer, Jill (August 17, 2004). 'So What Do You Do, Neil Strauss?'. Mediabistro. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  10. ^Strauss, Neil (November 12, 1996). 'Wal-Mart's CD Standards Are Changing Pop Music'. The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  11. ^'Nirvana box set stunning - but needs tour guide - tribunedigital-chicagotribune'. Articles.chicagotribune.com. November 21, 2004. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  12. ^Neil Strauss (Style), Dating Skills Review
  13. ^Strauss, Neil (January 25, 2004). 'He Aims! He Shoots! Yes!!'. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  14. ^Tang, Dennis (February 18, 2007). 'What It Feels Like...to Pick Up Britney Spears'. Esquire.com. Archived from the original on February 22, 2007. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  15. ^[1]Archived January 30, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^'Dating Advice for Men: Neil Strauss On ABC Primetime Live! (Video)'. Attraction-chronicles.blogspot.com. March 4, 2006. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  17. ^[2]Archived September 4, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^Emma Forrest: 'All the right moves.' The Observer, September 11, 2005
  19. ^Euan Stretch (February 19, 2006). 'Exclusive: She's the 6ft One'. SundayMirror.co.uk. Archived from the original on July 21, 2006.
  20. ^Daily Variety, August 18, 2006, 'FX amps up rock drama' by Denise Martin
  21. ^'Author Neil Strauss' Emotional Memories Of His Friend James Gandolfini'. BuzzFeed. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  22. ^'The Online Academy for Attraction - Arts and Sciences'. Stylelife. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  23. ^'How to Win Friends and Influence Girls Neil Strauss'. Huffingtonpost.com. February 2, 2012. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  24. ^''The Game' Author Neil Strauss - My Single Life Is Dead!'. TMZ.com. August 23, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  25. ^'Welcome to the World...' Neilstrauss.com. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  26. ^'HarperCollins Puts Its Money on New 'It Books' Imprint'. The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  27. ^'Neil Strauss is ready for any emergency'. Los Angeles Times. March 10, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  28. ^'PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS - ADVICE, HOW TO AND MISCELLANEOUS - Sunday, March 29th 2009 - List - NYTimes.com'. The New York Times. March 29, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  29. ^'An 'Emergency' for Robert Downey Jr. - latimes.com'. Latimesblogs.latimes.com. October 20, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  30. ^'HugeDomains.com - Kulone.com is for sale'. Kulone. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  31. ^Taylor, Ihsan. 'Best Sellers - The New York Times'. Nytimes.com. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  32. ^'NY Times Bestseller List'. nytimes.com. November 1, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  33. ^Alptraum, Lux (October 13, 2015). ''Game' Met Match: Pick-up Artist Godhead Neil Strauss's Subtle, Surprising New Book'. grantland.com. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  34. ^Heidi Stevens. 'In 'The Truth,' Neil Strauss takes the long way to monogamy'. Chicago Tribune.
  35. ^'NY Times Bestseller List'. kysdc.com. July 26, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
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The Game
AuthorNeil Strauss
IllustratorBernard Chang
CountryUnited States
September 2005
Pages452 p.
973.7/447092 22
LC ClassHV6584 .S77 2005
Followed byThe Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists (also known as The Game: Undercover in the Secret Society of Pickup Artists) is a non-fiction book written by investigative reporterNeil Strauss as a chronicle of his journey and encounters in the seduction community.

The book was featured on The New York Times Bestseller List for two months after its release in September 2005, reaching prominence again in 2007 during the broadcast of the VH1 television series The Pickup Artist, which was hosted by Mystery, Strauss's mentor in the book.[1][2] In its original published hardcover format, the book was covered in black leather and bookmarked with red satin, similar to some printings of the Bible. Despite the reputation that The Game has gained as an exposé on the seduction community, it was primarily written as an autobiographical work. The follow-up book, Rules of the Game, relies more on the how-to side.


Strauss stumbles across the community while working on an article.[3] Intrigued by the subculture, he starts participating in the online discussion groups, mainly out of frustration with his own romantic life. As he becomes more and more involved in the romantic community, Strauss attends a bootcamp conducted by a man identified only as 'Mystery'. The bootcamp consists of Strauss and other participants approaching women, and then Mystery and his counterpart, Sinn, giving them corrective advice on their behaviors, body language, and what to say. Strauss learns habits that, as he sees it, are often basic—and should have been taught to him by society in the first place.

The book then narrates the journey of how Strauss goes through the stages of becoming a pickup artist (a description of the members of the community) and gains the pseudonym 'Style'. He befriends many of the pickup artists, particularly Mystery. A good deal of the book focuses on how to obtain the elusive upper hand, or just hand, in a relationship. Strauss advocates various methods, mostly from the point of view of heterosexual men. He offers further guidelines for the process of seduction, which include preparing things to say before going out and telling groups of women surreptitiously impressive stories. He also uses 'false time constraints' (a reason that the conversation could end very soon) to put the woman of interest in a situation where she must convince the man she is interesting, discusses how to very slowly increase the amount of physical contact, and more.

Strauss tells the story of his success, the spreading of the romantic community itself, and his life at 'Project Hollywood', a high-end mansion and a lifestyle plan shared by Strauss, Mystery, Playboy, Papa, Tyler Durden, Herbal, and other members of the seduction community. He details how rivalries and animosity between members of the community lead to Project Hollywood's collapse and documents the start of 'Real Social Dynamics' led by Tyler Durden and Papa. By the end of his story, Strauss concludes that a life of nothing but picking up women is 'for losers', and he advocates incorporating pickup artist methods into a more balanced life.

Strauss mentions his experiments with sleeping habits, personal grooming tips, and encounters with celebrities such as Scott Baio, Tom Cruise, Andy Dick, Paris Hilton, Courtney Love, Dennis Rodman, and Britney Spears.


Neil Strauss was quoted in a review by Steven Poole in The Guardian as saying, 'A side effect of sarging (socializing with the intent of finding and seducing a woman) is that it can lower one's opinion of the opposite sex', though the reviewer noted, 'And yet, as he has described it, the inverse is true: a low opinion of the opposite sex is a prerequisite for sarging.'[4] Strauss was also quoted as saying, 'The point was women; the result was men. Instead of models in bikinis lounging by the Project Hollywood pool all day, we had pimply teenagers, bespectacled businessmen, tubby students, lonely millionaires, struggling actors, frustrated taxi drivers, and computer programmers – lots of computer programmers.'[4] The reviewer remarked that 'The sell is that, with the special techniques they learn from Mystery and other gurus, the ubergeeky can often give a convincing simulation of being a regular human being, even if, like one sarger in this book, they are in fact near-sociopaths.'[4]

Rafael Behr in The Observer wrote, 'Some of the recommended techniques are sinister. One involves discreetly undermining a woman's self-esteem by paying her a backhanded compliment in the hope that she will hang around to seek your approval. This maneuver has its own name: 'the Neg.'[5]

Malcolm Knox wrote, 'I doubt he has anything helpful for anyone except those men whose emotional maturity stalled at age 15.'[6] He also wrote, 'If the reader is too far ahead of the author, a book has a problem. On page 406, Mystery's mother says his problems are caused by his low self-esteem. Strauss reflects: 'Only a mother could reduce a person's entire ambition and raison d'etre to the one basic insecurity fueling it all.' No. It's taken 406 pages for Strauss to realize what most readers will have got by page 10.'[6] He notes the failure of Project Hollywood and the fact that the book does not recognize the role of women in selecting partners.[6] He also writes, 'The other false advertisement is that Strauss has 'penetrated' a 'secret society' of geeks-turned-gurus including Mystery, his rival Ross Jeffries and renegade PUA (pickup artist) teachers nicknamed Papa and Tyler Durden. Yet when Strauss writes about them in The New York Times, they're thrilled.'[6]

Alexandra Jacobs wrote in The New York Times that Strauss 'switched awkwardly between misogynistic comments and feeble attempts at self-awareness.'[7] She also notes that 'he does come to perceive one curious thing about the PUA's: They seem far more interested in spending time with fellow PUA's, amassing, refining and discussing the game, than actually getting to know women. Call them SLB's (scared little boys).'[7]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 2006, Sony optioned the film rights, with comedy director Chris Weitz reported to be signing on to helm the project for Columbia Pictures.[8][9] The film rights eventually shifted to Spyglass Entertainment,[10] and as of 2011 the film is under development by MGM, with Brian Koppelman and David Levien rewriting a previous script by Dan Weiss.[11][12]

Other works[edit]

A companion to The Game, called Rules of the Game by Neil Strauss, containing two parts, 'The Stylelife Challenge' and 'The Style Diaries', was released on December 18, 2007.[13][14]

Neil Strauss published a follow-up autobiographical work, The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships, in 2015. The book was published in a similar format to The Game, and features a contrasting white imitation leather cover. Provisionally titled Game Over, it focuses on Strauss's difficulties with long-term relationships, following his immersion in pickup.


  1. ^Neil Strauss (Style), retrieved October 11, 2013
  2. ^'The Game': Come Here Often?, The New York Times, September 11, 2005, retrieved October 11, 2013
  3. ^Strauss, Neil (January 25, 2004). 'He Aims! He Shoots! Yes!!'. The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  4. ^ abcPoole, Steven (October 22, 2005). 'Sad sack artists'. The Guardian. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  5. ^Behr, Rafael (September 25, 2005). 'Girls, if you see this man, run a mile'. The Observer. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  6. ^ abcdKnox, Malcolm (October 22, 2005). 'The Game'. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  7. ^ abJacobs, Alexandra (September 11, 2005). ''The Game': Come Here Often?'. The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
  8. ^Weinberg, Scott (February 24, 2006). 'Chris Weitz Getting Into the 'Game''. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  9. ^George, Lianne (September 2, 2005). 'Lady killers'. Maclean's. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  10. ^Garrett, Diane (August 22, 2007). 'Spyglass nabs 'The Game' rights'. Variety. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved May 12, 2011.
  11. ^Kit, Boris (July 8, 2011). 'MGM Picks Up Neil Strauss' 'The Game,' Taps 'Solitary Man' Team to Write and Direct'. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  12. ^MGM to Penetrate the 'Secret Society of Pickup Artists' Film School Rejects . . .
  13. ^'Rules of the Game by Neil Strauss'. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  14. ^'Paperback Bestsellers: Advice, How To, Misc: Sunday, January 13th 2008'. The New York Times. January 13, 2008. Retrieved June 28, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Purcell, Kevin. 'How to Get Your Pickup Game Straight in Just One Weekend'. The Aquarian.
  • Zigfield, Joe. 'Mastering the Game'. Edge Magazine. Future Publishing. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
  • Elson, Frank. 'School for Seduction'. Men's Health Magazine. NatMag Rodale Limited.
  • Brito, Sam de (January 16, 2005). 'Men Paying to Learn to Be Appealing'. The Sunday Telegraph. News Limited.
  • Dobrzensky, Dominic (November 3, 2006). 'The Art of Seduction'. Queen's Journal. Queen's University. Archived from the original on August 18, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
  • Rifkind, Hugo (September 3, 2005). 'Operation Pick-Up'. The Times. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
  • Yogis, Jaimal. 'What Does It Take to Get a Date in This Town?'. San Francisco. KQED. Retrieved April 24, 2008.

External links[edit]

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