Toronto seduction 'bootcamp' teaches men to turn on the charm
Saira Peesker, cp24.com
Published Thursday, March 18, 2010 2:14PM EDT
Nine eligible bachelors moved a few spaces forward in the game of love last weekend, participating in a three-day Toronto "bootcamp" designed to improve their skills in charming women.
Hunkered down in a Ramada hotel conference room on Jarvis Street, participants took in afternoons of instruction on how to meet, impress and seduce members of the opposite sex.
Topics included starting conversations with women for the first time, demonstrating worthiness, speaking to women on the phone and managing their expectations of what a relationship might comprise.
In the evenings, the group hit the bars with their instructors, practicing the routines and techniques they'd learned while building fodder for next day's question-and-answer sessions.
Those enrolled included a seemingly self-assured lawyer in his thirties, a nervous bookish type in his early twenties and several plainly dressed men aged somewhere between the two.
One participant, a Torontonian named Ronan, said he finished the weekend with a bolstered sense of confidence and skills that apply to more than just dating.
"There's a lot of openers and lines that are really helpful, but I think the biggest thing for me was developing confidence," he told CP24 on Monday night.
"(I've realized that) a lot of attractiveness is based in being confident in who you are and projecting that outward… And I think those skills carry over to the business world."
The course was offered by Love Systems, one of the most popular companies in the seemingly saturated market of seduction education. Students dished out about $3,000 to attend the weekend event, one of the company's many offerings around the world.
While the price tags of their courses are at the upper end when compared with bootcamps offered by competitors, the company says it hires the industry's best instructors and maintains a three-to-one ratio of students to coaches.
"After food and housing, I would argue that a lot of people spend most of their money on being attractive and impressing people," instructor Chris Shepherd told CP24.com, noting the course also offers a money-back guarantee for unsatisfied students.
"We provide the core thing that these people are looking for, and we do a very good job of it," says Shepherd.
The Toronto event was taught by Shepherd, Derek Cajun and Steve Jones – known as Tenmagnet, Cajun and Keychain in the vast online pickup artist community.
Shepherd and Cajun are both former Torontonians residing in Vancouver, while Jones flew to Toronto from the U.K. to help lead the weekend workshop. All three claim to have benefitted from the methods they teach.
"I used to be really confused by women and had no idea what they wanted," said Shepherd, who is described by Love Systems as one of their top coaches. "My dating life has completely changed."
The seduction community hit the mainstream in 2005 with the publication of "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists" by Neil Strauss, following years confined to the relative obscurity of online forums.
Torontonian Barry Kirkey, also known as Extramask, is heavily featured in the best-selling book. It describes his evolution from 26-year-old virgin to successful pickup instructor, and touches on his eventual disdain for many of his peers in the community.
Kirkey taught courses for the Los Angeles-based Real Social Dynamics and is now vocal in his criticism of the seduction community. He hosts an online radio show he uses to promote certain pickup instructors while heavily criticizing others.
In a recent interview for his show, Kirkey described most bootcamps as a waste of money, advising men to steer clear of the seduction community.
"Head for the f*cking hills," he said. "All you do is get real shallow. Most of the guys who are doing it are (untrustworthy). It's in the wrong hands."
Love Systems appears eager to distinguish itself from the seedier element in the pickup scene and after completing the Toronto course, new convert Ronan was quick to attest to the weekend bootcamp's quality.
He said he'd like to dispel stereotypes about men who seek to improve their seduction skills, as well as those teach the courses.
"It's really normal people who just want a step up," he said. "The instructors sometimes get played in a bad light. They get shown as players but are generally cool guys.
"I left the course feeling good about myself and I had a lot of fun. Thinking about life, attraction and dating differently is just kind of a bonus."