Strauss returns

Neil Strauss' latest book starts with some lawyerly warnings in tiny type: "The authors and the publisher assume no responsibility for any injuries suffered or damages or losses incurred during or as a result of following this information ... you assume full responsibility for the consequences of your own actions."

This type of disclaimer might lead you to believe that Strauss is offering a guide to skydiving or card counting, rather than what his book "The Stylelife Challenge: Master the Game in 30 Days" is really about: picking up chicks.

During a recent interview, Strauss shrugged nonchalantly when asked about the funny bit of legalese. This is the least weird element in what has been a string of amazing life adventures for a man who started out as a nerdy music critic in the 1990s and emerged in the '00s as one of the world's best-known pickup artists.

In 2005, Strauss published "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists," a lyrical memoir about his experiences joining an underground cabal of men who swap strategies for meeting women. The community awakened something in Strauss, who was renamed "Style" by one of the leaders.

Despite his successful career &

he was a culture writer for the New York Times who co-wrote best-selling books with the likes of rockers Motley Crue and porn star Jenna Jameson &

Strauss struck out with women. Initially he thought the instructions offered by the pickup community seemed silly &

dress outrageously to stand out like a "peacock," use putdowns called "negs" to pique her interest, whip out astrology to make her think you understand her.

But they worked, and Strauss endeavored to master the pickup game.

His life changed dramatically. He says he became empowered and more positive. As he says now, "The old me would have given my book a bad review and derided the premise."

After the release of Strauss' "The Game," pickup artistry infiltrated the culture. Previously, the only glimpse the mainstream had into this world was Tom Cruise's lampoony role in the 1999 movie "Magnolia" as Frank T.J. Mackey, a conflicted man who leads pickup seminars titled "Seduce and Destroy." After Strauss's book came out (and a related reality show on VH1 aired) the pickup game found itself legitimized, somewhat to Strauss's dismay.

"On my first book tour, the audience was filled with the kind of geeks I was used to. On my second book tour, the audience was filled with frat guys," he says. He was even asked to offer training for sales conventions and political candidates (he declined).

Still, giving guys who were down on their luck the keys to the kingdom remained a powerful pull for Strauss. He was getting thousands of e-mails from dudes wanting deliverance, but he couldn't help them all. Coupled with the fact that the seduction business was booming (the group boot camps that Strauss wrote about in "The Game" that cost $500 per person now regularly go for $3,000 and more), Strauss came up with his own solution to meet the demand. He hired a staff and kick-started the Stylelife Academy (), an online "university" focusing on the art of attraction that charges members $19.95 a week.

Enter Strauss' latest book and the lawyerly administrations set forth in the beginning. "Rules of the Game" is actually a collection of two books &

the aforementioned "Stylelife Challenge" and "The Style Diaries: The Pickup Artist's Companion," a collection of artfully sketched short tales that outline pitfalls of the game seen through Strauss' eyes. "The Stylelife Challenge" is a self-help book set up on a 30-day cycle that include daily exercises and field missions for each day.

At first skim, "The Stylelife Challenge" is like most go get 'em books aimed at men: eat right, look people in the eye, brush your teeth, believe in yourself. Strauss concedes that these elements are evergreen, but he points out that what makes this book different is the rigorous testing these attraction tactics have undergone &

he claims to have spent five years trying this stuff out on 13,000 men of all different backgrounds.

The missions run from approaching up to five strangers to make small talk to reframing what you do for a living so that it seems exciting. How do you win the challenge? At the end of 30 days, if you've completed all the tasks, you should have a date with a real, live girl.

But then what?

Strauss knows that getting the date is just the first step and keeping her in the long run is a whole other story. "The rules of the game are the complete opposite of real relationship rules," Strauss says.

That set of strategy will have to wait for another book.

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