Ten years ago, Neil Strauss was a highly successful journalist and co-writer of bestsellers with Jenna Jameson, Mötley Crüe and Marilyn Manson. But it wasn’t until he went undercover with L.A. pick-up artists, transformed himself into the world’s greatest lothario and published The Game in 2005 that he created a cultural phenomenon—and got a guy named “Mystery” his own VH1 show. Since then, he’s authored more bestsellers, and he recently released a board game, Who’s Got Game? He told us the keys to picking up any woman and why lines like “If I weren’t gay, you’d be so mine” actually work. Seriously.
MADE MAN: What’s the most important thing a guy should know when he approaches a girl at a bar?
NEIL STRAUSS: The thing guys always break is the three-second rule. Which is, as soon as you spot her, go and talk to her right away. The longer you hesitate and think about it and stare at her and check her out, the lower your chances go because you just seem like a weak, not confident guy, and plus you usually end up psyching yourself out and not approaching at all. So I would say the three-second rule.
Some women are hit on so often that you have to demonstrate actively that you’re not interested. They’re just used to being chased, and they’re much more interested if they have to chase you.
MM: Cool. Anything else?
NS: The number-one mistake guys make is, they hit on a girl before she’s attracted to them. So the other thing I’d say is, if she’s already attracted to you, good, then you’re allowed to show interest. But not until she’s already interested. And most of the time she’s not going to be attracted initially.
MM: Some dating experts say negs, or backhanded compliments, don’t work—at least on anyone worth dating. What’s your response?
NS: Some women are hit on so often that you have to, in some way, demonstrate actively that you’re not interested in them for them to get interested in you. They’re just used to being chased, and they’re going to be much more interested if they have to chase you. So whether it’s a so-called neg, which is being kind of cocky, teasing and funny, whether it’s showing you have other options, being sort of hard to read—there are many different ways to do the same thing.
MM: That line in The Game—“If I weren’t gay, you’d be so mine”—seems like it would be pretty effective in laying “uninterested” groundwork.
NS: Yeah, exactly. It’s something they’re not used to hearing. Or, “You know what, this relationship isn’t working out.” Again, both lines show disinterest. So to me, a neg isn’t insulting someone. It’s just showing you’re not interested.
MM: Tell us about this new board game. Why’d you decide to create it?
NS: When I was starting The Game and taking girls over to my house, or taking people back for an after-party, I didn’t really know what to do when we got there. It’s like, “Uh, here are some interesting music videos.” So I wanted something that would break the ice in a way that doesn’t kill the energy, because when you go back to some new person’s house, it can be a scary experience. And this game isn’t like Twister, where you know it’s a flirtation ritual. It’s something that really creates comfort and connection.
MM: Is it better than Sorry!? We always liked Sorry!
NS: I think so. My favorite thing is there are actually Neg Cards. Like, everyone has to pull their driver’s license out, and whoever has the funniest-looking photo loses two points. And there are also Secret Cards, where you get them, and you have to do a secret social mission within the group that they don’t know you’re doing. And then you get two points. It all kind of involves social engineering.
MM: So you see this game as helping guys land a girl?
NS: And vice-versa. Because it’s not really designed as, “OK, here’s a trick to get this to happen.” I’ve played it with my girlfriend, and it’s fun that way, too. But yeah, if there are girls over, it’s a way to start laughing. What builds a relationship is shared experiences, and it’s using social dynamics to create that. The other thing, too is, you can take the cards out and use them to meet people.
MM: Finally, what can you tell us about The Game film? We’ve heard James Franco is in talks to play Mystery. Is this movie happening?
NS: To me, I don’t believe it’s happening until they start shooting, but so far, things are on track. They’ve been working on it for a long time, but I think right now they have the best script, the best directors, the best people lined up to act in it. So once they get that shooting schedule done, I’ll be celebrating with you.
For more on Who’s Got Game?, go to neilstrausspartygame.com.