The first thing you expect about a pickup artist is that it will be a man with facial hair that was fashionable when your mum and dad used to go to discos, with his shirt open a bit too much to reveal a gold medallion and maybe offering a dodgy-looking pamphlet about the latest herbal extract to boost your "virility".
You don't expect it to be a vivacious, friendly and engaging young woman. But that's what Marni Kinrys is. She calls herself The Wing Girl and makes a living helping men meet women no matter what their desires, from a one night stand to everlasting marriage. To do that, Kinrys has products and services from a range of books and DVDs to coaching sessions over Skype calls for lovelorn blokes.
But it isn't about helping men score chicks. To Kinrys, gender relations in the 21st century is a minefield of boundaries and anxieties and her job is to help you through it to get what you want. "We have all these boundaries because of our past experiences, our baggage, the examples around us enhanced by the media, in other examples of people being successful and maybe ourselves not being as successful," she explains over a crystal clear Skype call from her native LA.
"It's very confusing today. In the past men were men, women were women and everybody knew what their role was. Now people have different rules. Some women are supposed to be aggressive and ask men on dates and some men are supposed to be okay with it and that gets confusing. It's just discomfort and insecurity - we're confused about what we're supposed to be and who we are."
Kinrys, who married her partner of seven years last year, calls herself your "best girlfriend". As soon as you realise the 30-year-old is serious about what she does and isn't like those sleazy "get lots of chicks" ads you see in the back of men's magazines, you learn something else about her approach that's refreshing. She preaches a healthy does of respect to her clients, instilling and maintaining it in themselves and the women they hope to meet. "I don't like manipulation. I don't like routines and becoming something else that you're not to impress a woman,"she says.
An example can be found in one of Kinrys' YouTube videos where she helps you avoid the "friend zone" if you're interested in a woman. While she pours her heart out about past heartbreak and you take her shoe shopping, Kinrys says you have to make your intentions clear about what you want with her. Not only will it stop her thinking of you as just one of the "girls" (not at all a romantic figure), you won't be a doormat to her every desire just because you fancy her. Kinrys says blokes should establish and stick to clear boundaries about what they want, not just for the sake of their own self-esteem but because women find them incredibly sexy. It's quite profound psychology for a pick up artist.
At times, Kinrys still has trouble convincing customers she's nothing like the ads for pheromone sprays and guaranteed pick up lines. She's been involved with and spoken at conventions with names like the Pick Up Artists Summit and Global Pickup Conference, but she says even there men are no different from those in the outside world. "Whenever I mention Pickup Artists or the PUA Summit people think 'that must be a room full of losers', but there are some amazing men in that world."
In fact, Kinrys believes it might be a stand-in for the sort of personal networking that comes naturally to women. While you probably talk in depth about your relationship hopes and dreams with your girlfriends, your boyfriend, husband or male friends are floundering in a world with little outlet for or information on getting what they want.
"Men don't have that sort of information and if they do it's cheesy or not really accurate," she says. "I'm the female friend for men to resolve their past issues with women and I'm not going to slam it on their face, flake on them, give them the silent treatment or lead them on in the friend zone. I'm going to give it to them straight."
But there's one overarching criticism of Kinrys' whole business model. Doesn't her approach characterise life as one big battle of the sexes, all of us with the same outlook, wants and personality as the rest of the gender on our side of the fence?
"It's too simplistic to say everybody is the same," Kinrys agrees. "But we all have very similar basic needs and wants. It really comes down to appreciation, understanding and being attracted to people who are attracted to themselves. That can look different for different people, but you attract people who'll be attracted to you at your best. It's a base to start from to get a proper grasp and then you can make your own belief system from that."
When all's said and done Kinrys' beliefs and coaching comes down to a single very old chestnut - be yourself. "My biggest lesson for men is that they are allowed to be men," she says. "Be the man that you want to be, don't suppress him. You have free range to ask for whatever you want. A woman is looking for you to be your most genuine and authentic self and that's when she'll find you the most attractive - at the beginning but also right through a relationship or marriage."
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