Wingmen and Naturals in the Washington Post

The Washington Post just did a story, A Bud for the Ladies, about some college guys who have mastered the basics of wingmanship. It's quite a bit less biased than D Magazine's story on Prophet and myself.

It seems to a lot of women that if flirting, dating and seduction is a learned skill, than it must be some Dark Jedi mind trick while if it's naturally learned, it's fine and dandy. Ah well.

Like all Naturals, these college kids have learned the hard way and through field experimentation what works and what doesn't. These Naturals have several things pinned down:
  1. Accomplishment Intros - They always introduce each other and play up the other person's deeds.
  2. Occupying the Obstacle(s) - The Wingleader gets the Target and the Wingman takes on the Obstacle.
  3. Establishing Wing Rules - Everyone knows the rules before hand (ie the Wingmen should never take the Wingleader's Target).
  4. Befriending the Group - Always talk to the group before isolating the hottest girl there or even better, send in the Wingman.

There is one thing that I intensely dislike about their methodology is their way of Accomplishment Intros. Technically it is perfectly sound and works, BUT...

... they FABRICATE accomplishments. It's not even a light embellishment but total make believe. I've never been a big fan of routines, but do recognize them as training wheels. However, patently falsifying status, accomplishments, etc. is distasteful to me.

I mean, yes, Project Hollywood was an illusion replete with mansion, limousine and pool... but it was physically real and the women let themselves believe what they wanted to (ie hooking up with a High Status Male). But out and out lying... saying that you a multi-millionaire, or a best selling author... sheesh.

I have to wonder why female reporter Laura Stepp for the Washington Post didn't hammer them as much as Paige Phelps from D Magazine lambasted Prophet and I.

NOTHING that we taught had our guys telling out and out LIES.

As Pick Up Artists, we don't talk about this too much, but there is an ethical side to the equation. Like...
  1. Don't Screw Over Your Brothers
  2. Practice Safe Sex
  3. Always Leave Her Better Than You Found Her
Anyways, here's the complete article:

A Bud for The Ladies
Fly Solo, and a Guy Can Get So Shot Down. Wingman to the Rescue!

By Laura Sessions Stepp
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 31, 2006; Page C01

In the back of the club, on a bench built for two, a short college guy with a baby face is putting the moves on a miniskirted beauty whose shapely legs, crossed just so, rival Katie Couric's. The only thing between him and his destiny is her girlfriend, squished between the two of them, large lips in a pout.

Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" is blasting from the speakers at U Street's Republic Gardens, rented out for an end-of-school-year bash. There's not much dancing going on, but lots of drinking and flirting among what appear to be mostly students from George Washington University.

The young suitor is neatly dressed all in black, his long-sleeved shirt tucked into pressed cotton trousers. In this casual crowd of colorful polo shirts and frayed jeans, he might as well be wearing a sign that says, "Trying too hard." As he presses his end of the conversation, the beauty nods slightly but her eyes roam the room. He ignores her friend, whose pout grows ever more pronounced. If anyone ever needed a wingman, this guy is it.

You know the wingman. He's the guy who accompanies his buddy to a bar to help him pick up babes. He does whatever it takes to give his friend some time alone with the girl of choice: telling flattering lies about him, enticing away the sidekick girlfriend, running interference at the approach of a rival male.

He's like the fighter pilot flying beside and slightly behind the lead pilot in a hostile environment -- thus the term. You saw the prototype in the 1986 flick "Top Gun": Anthony Edwards's Goose (who was married!) to Tom Cruise's Maverick. You've seen him in a Coors beer commercial, "taking one for the team" by baby-sitting a plain Jane while his pal grinds it out with a hottie on the dance floor. You've heard country singer Toby Keith complain on his latest album about being a "Runnin' Block" for his buddy. You can go online now and rent a wingman or even a wingwoman (who softens up the target first by saying something girly like "Love your shoes!" before turning her over to the guy).

Some of you may have been the wingman in middle school, sitting in the back of the movie theater occupying the attention of the clarinet player so your friend could make out with the pompom girl. If your pal got lucky, you lived through him. And when it was your turn to play the game, your buddy became the wingman.

"A mutual back-and-forth man love" is how Tony Moniello describes wingman camaraderie. Moniello, 22, and two buddies, Jay Jentz, 22, and Philipp Waclawiczek, 21, have been wingmanning for each other from the first week of freshman year at GW four years ago. They're sitting in Moniello's apartment, talking over plans for the party that night on U Street. Grey Goose, Southern Comfort and Everclear bottles line the bookshelves.

Exams are over, graduation is approaching and each of them has several young women on his year-end wish list. (Some senior women, by the way, keep similar lists.) Once they start work in the real world, clubbing will become an occasional thing as opposed to a four-night-a-week addiction. They may actually have to ask women out on dates, take them to dinner. Wingman skills will still be needed, but not as often. Bummer.

At college, a good wingman has been as important as a popped-collar shirt. This is a generation that, in large part, dismisses the idea of courtship. Many move fast through relationships: face-booking, instant-messaging, text-messaging.

A guy who spots a girl has five minutes to break the ice, another five to decide if he likes her and maybe 10 more to impress her before she moves on. That's a lot to ask of a young man who, his pose to the contrary, is terrified. (At any college bar, says Jentz, guys are the first to start throwing back drinks, particularly if the drinks are free early in the evening, as is sometimes the case at Republic Gardens. "It's all about needing a little confidence," Jentz admits.)

Occasionally, both guys will walk over to the target at the same time. More frequently, the wingman makes the first flyby. Say the target has arrived with another young woman who, like Pouty Girl, would not win any beauty contests. "The wingman talks to that girl," Waclawiczek says, "and the girl that your friend is after is like, 'Oh, what's going on? Why isn't he talking to me?' That's when your friend moves in."

The wingman delivers the introduction, knowing that his job is to make his buddy look cool.

Jentz points to Moniello. "He's been an author."

Moniello grins. "I've written a few books."

Books, plural? At age 22?

"Hey, you only have a couple of minutes to make an impression," Moniello continues. "So if you have to save a baby seal from an oil spill in Alaska, you have to save a baby seal."

Jentz picks up: "Sometimes you're a lawyer. You may only have taken one law class, but what the heck? It adds flavor, gets people excited."

Moniello says his hometown wingman -- good wingman relationships never die -- is as adept as they come. "If I go to the bathroom, he'll make me look like Jesus. . . . The girl I'm after will say something like 'I hear he's a player' and he'll convince her I'm really in love with her."

If the wingman is the least bit interested in the sidekick girl, he'll signal that to his partner-in-crime and include himself in the lie.

"You can't assume that every girl with a wingman is ugly," Moniello says. "She may be very attractive. If she is, then me and Jay own all the Ben & Jerry's in the Northeast."

The wingman will find a way to squire away the target's sidekick. Maybe he buys her a drink. Maybe he drags her over to the dance floor. He keeps her occupied until the lead man gives him one of two signals. Either the transaction is going nowhere and they need to bail, or he's about to go home with the target. In the latter case, the target's bodyguard -- um, girlfriend -- is probably coming along, and so is the wingman.

Jentz was Waclawiczek's wingman in just such a situation a few weeks ago. They were at a bar that was about to close. Waclawiczek decided to hit on a freshman and see if he could get her to go home with him. He did fine until it came to the going-home part, and then it became clear she wasn't leaving without her girlfriend. Jentz knew his role: Not only did he bring the girlfriend along, he also kept her occupied once they got to Waclawiczek's place. Both guys were happy at the end of the night.

(Waclawiczek wanted one thing about this episode made clear: "Normally I wouldn't need help getting this girl. But she wouldn't have left her friend.")

Duties of the wingman: He must be decent-looking but not too handsome, or the lead man will end up being the wingman. He must be sociable, able to move the conversation forward or back off, depending on how the lead is doing. It helps if he can gather intelligence on the girl early in the evening, sense whether his buddy has a chance and impart that wisdom privately before the offensive starts.

Whether or not he's interested in the sidekick, he has to act like he is and, if she's really unattractive to him, be willing to, as these guys say, "fall on the grenade."

It doesn't take four years in college to learn the wingman trade. Jason Linden has been at GW only two years and defends the practice as necessary -- particularly when a pretty girl is accompanied by a gaggle of other girls.

"It's very hard to spit game to a girl if she's with a group of her friends," he says. "They'll catch on, and you could look like a loser in front of them in addition to the girl who rejected you."

He knows. One night freshman year, he approached a young woman in a club whom he had seen around campus. She was yakking with a group of girlfriends. He didn't realize he needed to win over the group first. "I tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'Come get a drink with me.' " he recalled. "She looked at her friends, asked them quite loudly, 'Who is this guy?' and continued talking."

As questionable as some of their tactics sound, wingmen profess to have a moral code when it comes to their buddies. One rule is, don't say something embarrassing about your friend to the girl he's after, even if it makes you look witty.

Another, and possibly the most significant, is this: Never, as the wingman, hit on the target yourself.

Linden's wingman violated this rule recently. Linden had flirted with a classmate all semester, had even accompanied her to a movie. The more he was with her, the more he liked her -- and the more tongue-tied he became. His wingman knew this.

The night after the movie outing (not a date, he insists), Linden dropped by a friend's apartment and discovered his wingman and the girl "all over each other." He didn't speak to his friend for several days.

These guys appear to have no qualms about what they do. "It's calculated but not cold," Moniello says.

The women they approach know exactly what's going on, Jentz says. "But they like to play dumb about the whole situation. They want to think this is more classy than it seems."

Lauren Faust, who is finishing up at GW this summer, agrees that on one level, women know when they're being scammed. "But in context it's harder to spot. I'm sure I've been wingmanned and not picked up on it. I can be completely self-absorbed."

And the objectification? Are girls okay being seen as mere pawns in this game of chess?

The way some men talk about women "makes my jaw drop," Faust agrees. But don't assume that if the man scores, the girl has lost, she says. And girls can give as good as they get. They take wing partners with them to bars too, even if they don't call them that.

In college, Faust relied on her roommate. On any given evening, either of them could force the other to go out with her and play the sidekick. One evening she and her wing partner were out and spotted a couple of guys. After spending some time with the guys, Faust signaled to her roomie that she wanted to make out with the better-looking of the two. Faust's friend took the other guy, who, as Faust tells the story, "couldn't form sentences, he was so dumb."

"The guy I went with turned out to be a meathead," she continued, "so my friend took a bullet for me for nothing."

* * *

One week post-Republic Gardens, the GW crowd has moved to Adams Mill Bar & Grill in Adams Morgan. Taxi upon taxi arrives, spilling forth scads of scantily clad young women who push their way into an already packed club. Upstairs, a bleary-eyed guy with a beer is hitting on a toothpick-thin blonde who is accompanied by an equally thin brunette. He's making no progress, and the baseball cap low on his forehead can't hide a scowl that grows ever larger.

His wingman comes over and bums a cigarette from one of the girls. He and his buddy chat up the duo, who slouch and blow smoke rings, their eyes scanning the room. Sometimes girls will at least feign interest. Not these two.

With only minutes to go to last call, Jentz trolls the place with a near-empty beer pitcher in his hand, shirttail out, single and increasingly melancholy. Waclawiczek, shirt tucked in, gelled hair in place, has stationed himself near the door. Moniello, designated wingman, continues to scout the crowd on behalf of his buddies and himself, drawing lots of hugs and kisses but little else.

Even the ablest of wingmen can't guarantee a win.

Signed, Asian Playboy

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