NEWS

Pickup artist's YouTube site angers Ottawa women

07/17/2015 08:05 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
Several Ottawa women are warning others to be on the lookout for a self-proclaimed "pickup artist" who talks up women on the street and tries to get their phone numbers — all while wearing a hidden camera.

"I was walking down the street, and this man approached me and started asking these personal, sort of strange questions," said Samantha DeLenardo, one of the woman filmed by a man she now believes to be Luke Howard, who runs a YouTube channel called "Lukeutopia."

"By the third question, I was like, I have to go back to work," DeLenardo said. "I was really disturbed by it all day." 

DeLenardo said she's since filed a formal complaint with police.

In the videos on the YouTube channel, women are asked a series of innocent questions — questions about what they're wearing, where they're from.

The goal of the videos on Howard's site is to show how easy it is to get a woman's phone number within a few minutes.

Hidden camera

The conversations are recorded with a hidden camera in Howard's glasses. 

DeLenardo said she was approached by a man Thursday on Bank Street. She said she had an inkling she was being filmed because the man kept "panning" his head from left to right.

After the brief conversation she "did a little digging" and uncovered the YouTube channel. 

Although it isn't illegal to make a video of a candid conversation, DeLenardo said she felt violated by what she discovered.

"It's almost harassment the way he's doing it," she said. "It makes me uncomfortable, [it] makes me angry because it feels like there's nothing you can do."

Efforts to reach Howard on Friday went unanswered. 

Videos are 'predatory'

Rosella Chibambo, who works for the Nobel Women's Initiative in Ottawa, said a number of her female friends have told her that they've found their secretly recorded conversations on the YouTube channel over the past 24 hours.

Chibambo said she felt it was time to go public.

"The behaviour that I saw in those videos is predatory. There's no other word to describe it," Chibambo said.

"The pickup artist movement just picks on women's insecurities."

Howard has described himself as a hypnotist and has appeared on local television stations, giving self-improvement lectures on how to get in shape and how to quit smoking. 

On the YouTube channel, Howard uses the videos to show men that his techniques work for picking up women.

As of late Friday afternoon, however, the Lukeutopia YouTube channel had been made private.

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