There is an interesting article on the Forbes site about the new life of Tucker Max, famous bad boy party blogger. Max has given up his life of nonstop drinking and screwing, leads a lifestyle of health shakes and yoga, has a steady live-in girlfriend, and most significantly has taken up psychoanalysis, and old-fashioned form of psychotherapy pioneered by Sigmund Freud that involves seeing a psychiatrist four of five times a week. He describes his old lifestyle as immature and the product of a bad childhood.
This isn’t too surprising in itself; the fact he isn’t dead already is testament to the strength of his liver. He has milked this for all it’s worth. His first book, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” sold 1.6 million copies; his second, “Assholes Finish First” only 400,000, despite being prominently displayed in every airport in the country. He has another coming out that is supposed to finish his story, but who knows how many people will bother with that.
Frost has accused him of selling out, in a series of articles published at In Mala Fide and his own site. Frost says he was the voice of his generation, but has surrendered due to the needs of political correctness. I think the explanation is much more simple. First of all, Tucker Max is not the voice of his generation. He is just a guy who has a talent for telling funny stories about himself. Having done all he can with that, he seems to be repositioning himself as some other kind of writer, probably along the lines of lifestyle and self-improvement. That’s not to say he doesn’t actually regret his boorish behavior; he has much more self-awareness and decency than guys like him usually have, which is why he’s able to make himself not sound like a complete tool.
There is another thing here though that is much more interesting to me. As sometimes happens in this style of journalism, the author, Michael Ellsberg, makes a side trip into his personal history. He admits to idolizing Tucker Max and his lifestyle of easy, casual sex. He confesses to having spent a lot of money on pick-up seminars, without any success.
He had contacted Max some years ago with the idea that he was going to write an article about pick-up artists, featuring Mystery, some other “gurus” and Max. Max wrote him back, saying he did not consider himself a pick-up artist and declaring himself insulted to be compared with such losers, as he regarded them.
This is true. Tucker Max is not a pick-up artist. He is a natural, which is an entirely different thing. Actually guys like Max aren’t terribly rare. They are not common, but I have known a few and I haven’t had all that much exposure to the world of alpha males. Naturals don’t pick up women, women pick up them. They are usually quite handsome, tall, and athletic, but what is more important is they radiate sexual and social success. Their complete lack of effort and very low level of interest only stokes the fires of the kind of women who go for them- I would say most women feel attracted to them, but only a relatively small percentage throw themselves at them. But that is all it takes to keep them going.
Max’s pride and ego is misplaced. There is nothing admirable about being a natural, because they don’t achieve this status, they just fall into it. Partly they are born that way; it’s substantially genetic, and they have successful experiences with women early and often. How is Max different? He’s very intelligent, and an excellent writer. He has a great sense of humor and story-telling ability. But the reason for his success is that he has a certain sense of shame, which from my experience these guys never have. Their behavior is commonly defined as boorish, selfish, and predatory, but they only see themselves as special people who deserve it all, and the women who have sex with them as lucky. Max understands the typical reader is a bit shocked and appalled, so he adds a bit of rue to defuse the disgust- “Yeah, I can’t believe I’m doing this stuff either. What the hell was I thinking? Best just to laugh at myself, and I invite you to laugh at me too. We’ll all have a good laugh about it.”
Max can take pride in his publishing success, the product of his effort and skill. But his success with women? He did nothing to achieve that. And his contempt for pick-up gurus he should keep for himself. I don’t know if these guys are successful as they say, or can help many guys pick up women. But they have at least some success, and have helped at least some guys. (Notice that Max specifically exempts Neil Strauss, who is a very successful writer and not somebody he needs to have as an enemy.)
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself. You need to be skeptical about what anybody is saying; as I have pointed out before, it may not apply generally. The worst people to try to learn from are naturals. They don’t know how they do what they do, because they don’t do anything and are not conscious of anything they do. And as we see from Max’s attitude, they usually regard guys who aren’t slick with women as hopeless losers anyway.