“Picking up girls can be as easy as opening a beer!”
Look through any American magazine of the 1970s, and you’ll find ads for the oddest things. One regular topic for advertisers was ‘self help’, often in the form of mail order hypnosis, body building, martial arts or other confidence-building techniques. Perhaps the lowest rung on this ladder of quackery and nonsense was the 1975 Symphony Press LP Picking Up Girls Made Easy, narrated by Eric Weber and based on his 1970 book of How to Pick Up Girls. Weber was an advertising copywriter who hit pay dirt exploiting the uncertainties of the late 1960s sexual revolution. How to Pick Up Girls was a best seller – over 3 million copies have been sold – and was even adapted as a fictional romantic comedy TV movie in 1978. Like with many diet books, this success seems to be more down to wishful thinking and desperation than proven results.
Weber was an early example of what would become known and reviled in the 21st century as ‘pick up artists’ – the men who think that there is a pseudo-scientific technique to scoring with women, through neuro-linguistics, psychological profiling and basic physical attractiveness (the latter quality arguably being the most important and the hardest to teach). These claims are usually made by men running classes or writing books that will be consumed by people who have no chance of ever pulling these techniques off – after all, if you are too nervous to talk to women, feeding you a bunch of scenarios that require you to be a silver-tongued charmer is probably not going to make much difference to your sex life.
Weber’s LP runs through a series of rather creepy scenarios where men can pick up women with a combination of charm, mild manipulation and persuasion – skills and attributes that the listener will almost certainly lack. It’s hard to believe that any women would be foolish enough to fall for this sort of superficial smarm, especially if spluttered out by some shut-in who needs to be told when to bathe. But the success of the Pick-Up Artist industry was never down to proven results – no one ever lost money by exploiting desperation.
In recent years, Pick-Up Artists have been attacked as misogynistic and even listed – rather ludicrously – as hate-speech figures. More accurately, they are mostly con-men exploiting lonely people’s desperate need for affection and companionship. But in a #metoo world, the idea of strange men actively harrassing women on the street (or ‘at the ballet’!)is not going to go down well, and any re-issue of this LP would be a foolhardy move (though Weber’s book is still in print, and the pick-up community remains a real thing online, I suspect both are on borrowed time). Needless to say (before anyone gets hysterical), we present it here for entertainment, not educational purposes.