10/10/2013 02:58 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

The Asian Playboy, Pickup Artist or Social Justice Activist?

A lot of guys can't talk to women. A lot of those guys happen to be Asian. That's where JT Tran comes in. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Asian Playboy. The Asian Playboy is an MPUA - that's Master Pickup Artist, a pickup artist with such mad skillz, he gets paid to coach others.

The fraternity of pickup artists isn't new. Go into a record store and you can find vinyl records from the 60's that instruct Frankie Avalon wannabes how to score playing beach blanket bingo.

But women have been kept in the dark about this secret society throughout the decades because like a magic trick, these techniques are no longer so mesmerizing once you know all the steps. But thanks to VH1's The Pickup Artist, and Neil Strauss' best selling book The Game, this once subaltern world has surfaced towards mainstream attention.

In fact, PUA community has come under a lot of unwanted scrutiny lately because of the controversial Kickstarter campaign that funded Above the Game, which notoriously advocated among other things "GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick."

With smoking guns like these, it's easy to dismiss the whole PUA community as a bunch of misogynistic confederates bent on fostering rape culture, especially if you perceive it solely through the lens of gender. But when you include race, PUA culture becomes more nuanced, at least from my POV as an Asian man.

You see, my wife is so strikingly beautiful, white men sometimes ask me; "So how did you get her? She's clearly way out of your league." Hardy har har.

Even though I know these digs are intended as good-natured ribbing, I can't help but hear these questions as racially inflected. A white man with an Asian woman? Thanks to sexual colonialism, very common. But the sight of an Asian man paired with a highly desirable non-Asian woman can raise hackles. if that's the case, how flattering that The Asian Playboy would spend so much time posting things like this just to spin my perception of him.

And if I deign to regale them of how I won the hand of my lady, it is a tale of such outrageous confidence, their wives/girlfriends will punch them demanding to know why they were so banal and perfunctory in their courtship.

I am what PUA culture calls a "natural." I developed my outrageous confidence the old-fashioned way; self-delusion. As a child, my eyesight was so bad every time I looked in the mirror I saw The Fonz staring back. Hey, we both had black hair, and I couldn't see much else. By the time I finally received prescription lenses as a teenager, the damage was done, my self-confidence was intact. Think I'm kidding? Take another look at my byline photo. I'm not trying to look like a douche. That's really how I feel 24/7.

The Asian Playboy on the other hand was not always a natural. JT Tran realized he had a problem meeting ladies early on. He tried everything; speed dating, dating websites. When he took the eHarmony personality test, he failed. They could not find a single match. Quite a different person from the man I met in Los Angeles at V3con a gathering of Asian-American journalists and social media mavens.

Pretty smooth operator right? That was nothing. I had the chance to party with The Asian Playboy at The Greystone in Hollywood. He wasn't in pickup mode, but when I saw a young Parisian woman ask him for a cigarette, he had her laughing and high-fiving faster than I would have thought possible.

Over the thumping music of the nightclub, Tran told me even though Asian-Americans constitute just 5% of the population, they make up roughly 30% of the participants in PUA workshops and gatherings. Which affirms what my Chinese-Canadian friend Rebecca Gu once observed; "dating is a white person's game." Asian parents inculcate their kids with a well-intentioned, plausible sounding lie; if you do nothing but study hard, make good money, then eventually you can have your pick.


Take my chiropractor, Dr. Chan. He's a young, single, decent looking guy who spends his weekends window shopping -- ALONE. Sure, he sounds great on paper, but if he bumped into you on the street, you wouldn't be able to pick him out of a lineup 5 minutes later. Dr. Chan if you're reading this, you may have spent the better part of a decade going to medical school, but you COULD use these classes! Dr. Chan is not alone. This other doctor is willing to pay for a date because he spent his whole career sacrificing his personal life for his professional life.

No doubt this scene has its share of creepy Hugh Hefner wannabes, but there's a lot of lonely guys out there who simply want to get married, and grow old with somebody. But that's not going to happen if they can't even ask a woman out on a date.

JT's mantra is "if you want the woman of your dreams, you need to become the man of her dreams." Among MPUAs I think The Asian Playboy could be one of the good guys -- if there is such a thing. Or maybe, I'm just another one of his conquests. Play with a playa, you get played, right?

But if that's the case, how flattering that The Asian Playboy would spend so much time posting things like this just to spin my perception of him.