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The Rap Trap

[whitespace] Speed Seduction
Christopher Gardner

Warm Before the Storm: 'Speed Seduction' author Ross Jeffries says women actually want to be manipulated by his pick-up lines and techniques, although apparently not these models, one of whom left the shoot early, citing Jeffries' 'unprofessional' conduct.

Ross Jeffries says he has the latest, top secret, scientific techniques for scoring chicks. Can we talk?

By Cecily Barnes

WE ARE STANDING at 3pm in the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Stevens Creek Boulevard. Ross Jeffries shuts his eyes tight, inhales four quick breaths and strides down the carpeted aisle with me and one of his students, Lew Payne. Glancing down each row of books, he slips into the romance section and stands next to a woman who appears to be in her late 30s, wearing a black-and-white checkered dress.

"Do you really read these?" he asks her, with a teasing smile.

"Yeah," she laughs.

Lew and I realize that he's beginning to work what he refers to as his "magic," and we slip behind a nearby bookshelf, in close listening distance.

"Can you recommend one that illustrates what really touches a woman ... deep in her soul ... deep in that place where she keeps her most exciting memories ... where she ponders fantasies?"

Jeffries voice slows, becomes lower and takes on a hypnotic quality. "The kinds of things she'd do if no one were watching." He pauses. "The things she wouldn't even want her best friend to know she desires."

The woman does not seem dreamy, but she's not laughing, either. And she's not leaving.

"Well, it depends what you're looking for," she says. "I think the books fall into two main categories, those set in today and those set in medieval times. I never thought I'd like those, but I really do."

"Of course," Jeffries responds, "they're more removed in time, further placed from reality and therefore more of a fantasy."

She pulls a pink, soft-cover book from the shelf and hands it to Jeffries.

"Are you married?" he asks, noticing her wedding ring.


"What does your husband think of what you read?"

"He doesn't even pay attention," she laughs.

"Wow, if I was married to someone, I'd want to know all about the fantasies that excite them," Jeffries says. "I'd say, 'Teach me to read it in exactly the right voice [pause], exactly the right tonality, so that I step into that place of fantasy and enjoy it with you.' "

She looks up.

"I think we all have a place like that, that we keep secret and don't share with anybody," she says.

"Not even your husband?" Jeffries asks.

"Not even him."

Jeffries nods, thanks her for the book and walks off around the corner.

Speed Seduction

ALTHOUGH THE 39-year-old Jeffries promotes his science--which he calls "Speed Seduction"--in the back pages of Gallery and Penthouse--alongside such promises as 13-inch penises and pheromone-laced perfume--he doesn't categorize his work with these "bogus" schemes. He says Speed Seduction is far too legitimate and important for such sleazy advertising neighbors: "That's why I don't want to be in the back of the book, and I keep having this argument with Penthouse."

Jeffries holds his internationally known seminars in Palo Alto and Mountain View much like college lectures, with students sitting in rows facing him, notepads in hand. For one exercise, they echo Jeffries as he "eee-nun-cee-ates" using hypnotic tones. In another lesson, students scribble down language patterns designed to trick the mind into sexual thoughts. And then there's the seductive use of weasel phrases--"Have you ever?" and "What would it be like?"--that cause the mind to contemplate possibilities. Of course, the best part for most students is when Jeffries demonstrates his technique on a volunteer who willingly enters the lion's den. For this, Jeffries has used friends, acquaintances or a random woman he will solicit at his seminar.

As part of his students' $895 fee, Jeffries has them complete an exercise to overcome their fear of talking to women. He and other students hit the streets and approach women with this statement: "Hi, I'm Manny the Martian, what's your favorite flavor bowling ball?"

"Something about making a jackass out of yourself and living through it really helps these guys who have no confidence," says Jeffries' friend Tom Vizzini.

Student John Kosmicke, 28, finished his second Speed Seduction seminar last month in Chicago. He says that since his recent investment, his dating pool has definitely widened. Kosmicke says he hasn't seduced a woman into bed yet, because he's not sure about the ethics of it. And, frankly, because he hasn't quite mastered the seduction techniques yet. Still, he says enthusiastically, his social life has definitely livened up. Dozens of other men profess similar results on Jeffries' Web site where the luckless and the loveless can order his tutorials, either on videocassette or audio tape.

"If nothing else, it's just statistical," Kosmicke says. "You go out there and meet people, and even if you didn't have any technology, you'd be doing better just for having more shots on goal."

Horny and Lonely

JEFFRIES GREW UP in the Gardena-Hawthorne area of Los Angeles, a suburb near LAX, where he lived with his mother, father, two brothers and three sisters. Even after his bar mitzvah at age 13, Ross was more enamored of books about the paranormal and aviation than he was of typical teenage activities. Four years later, his senior class at Leuzinger High School voted him "most individual." It's not that he wasn't interested in girls, it's that the girls weren't hot for him.

"I was the guy who was always told, 'You're my best friend, and I really like you; I'm just not attracted to you.' Ugghh, it makes me sick to remember it," he says.

By the time he got to college, Jeffries hadn't sloughed off his "most individual" status. He was 6-foot-1 and weighed only 130 pounds. Social skills hadn't ever been a strong point--he would get very nervous around women--and young Ross had yet to go all the way. But the summer after his sophomore year, Jeffries met Megan, a blue-eyed girl from Wisconsin who liked to drink. The couple met in summer school and at the tender age of 20, Megan--in a drunken fog--introduced Ross to the world of sex.

"I think she liked vulnerable guys, and I was pretty vulnerable," Jeffries says. "I just pestered her and pestered her, and finally we did it. I think she didn't have any problem doing it when she was blotto."

The affair ended with summer, and Jeffries started the next year uninspired by school, his report card arriving each semester blemished with Cs and Ds. "I hated college; I felt like I wasn't learning anything. I was just being forced to memorize." It wasn't until years after college that Jeffries would discover where his true passion lay.

Jeffries went from graduation into a string of different jobs. He was an insurance-claims adjuster, a marketing assistant, a paralegal and even, for a short spell, a comedy writer whose work never quite caught on. Life was mundane until, at the age of 28, he stumbled upon the book Frogs Into Princes, co-authored by UC-Santa Cruz professor John Grinder and former UCSC student Richard Bandler, known as the fathers of neurolinguistic programming (NLP). Within 10 pages, he was hooked. Herein lay a groundbreaking technique to control the world rather than be controlled by it, or so it seemed. For someone who had spent his whole life unable to be popular, sexy or in control, this seemed a godsend. NLP offered techniques using hypnotic suggestion to quickly and efficiently change one's own behavior, as well as influence other people's behaviors.

For the next two years, Jeffries spent his free time studying. "I went to this bookstore in Westwood and bought every book and tape on NLP I could find," Jeffries says. "I thought it would give me an edge. I was thinking it could help me with women, and I thought it could change my body."

Jeffries began using NLP on his friends, to cure phobias and other mental problems. His biggest feat, he says, was using NLP to help his mom after open-heart surgery.

"She was in deep agony, and I asked her what it would be like if all her pain went into her little finger. Then I asked her what color her pain was, and to visualize it spreading across the room," Jeffries says. "She had a pain-free recovery."

Still at the paralegal office, Jeffries returned from work one day to find a book in his mailbox detailing how to pick up women in bars. "Honestly, to this day I don't know who sent it to me, but I thought I could write something so much better than this, using NLP, and so much funnier because I used to be a comedy writer," Jeffries says. In the next few months, during lunch breaks and after work, Jeffries' book on seduction was born, created by a man who up until that point had spent his life with virtually no control over his situation with women. Jeffries decided NLP was just the tool to help him grab control of life and manifest what he wanted. And what he wanted was beautiful women, lots of them. The year was 1989, and the book Jeffries released was crude, straight-to-the-point and without excuse: How to Get the Women You Desire Into Bed: A Down and Dirty Guide to Dating and Seduction for the Man Who's Fed Up With Being Mr. Nice Guy.


Ross Jeffries is only the latest in a long line
of seduction salesmen.

Speed Seduction probably does work, but then what?


Revenge of the Nerd

DURING AN EARLY conversation with Jeffries, he laughs loudly into the phone--deep and controlled at first. "Stanford University is grea-aaaat practicing ground," he drawls. The laughing continues--a stream of low-sounding spits that goes on for five seconds, 10 seconds, and then so long that I feel that I am waiting on the other end of the phone line while he rides out what seems to be his own private and immensely pleasurable joke. This is awkward enough, hearing out a complete stranger's one-sided, uncontrollable fit of laughter. But it is even more uncomfortable given what he's laughing about--the Speed Seduction seminars he holds annually in Palo Alto, and the Stanford girls he and his students have scored with afterwards while practicing their seduction techniques. "We've had fun up at Stanford!" he adds, in case I didn't catch it the first time. Clearly, the almost-40 Jeffries is laughing about bedding college girls. Given the titles of his home tutorials--How to Nail That Girl Who Just Wants to Be Friends, How to Get a Stripper Into Bed and The Slut Report--it's no great surprise. Ultimately Jeffries promises men techniques to talk a girl into bed in as short as 20 minutes. "But that's only when they're really good," Jeffries said during a recent interview on Politically Incorrect.

The laughter subsides and without so much as a few-second interlude, Jeffries begins screaming at his cat in a falsetto voice. "No Tabby, no ... Taaaabathaaaaa no!" I swallow, at a loss as to how to handle this situation. I briefly consider hanging up the receiver, but Jeffries--as if knowing how far is too far--snaps back to normal, explaining that his cat Tabbatha (his other cat, Sargy, is heralded on his Web page as Ross' "favorite pussy") gets jealous when she's not the center of attention. This sounds reasonable enough. Just before Ross continues explaining how he uses hypnotic trances and specially crafted word patterns to seduce women, he makes it known he hasn't missed a beat.

"Now you're going to write that I talk crazy to my cat, huh?" he asks.

Einstein's Turtlenecks

JEFFRIES, WHO HAS BEEN at his craft for 11 years, won't say how many women he's slept with. "Who I am doesn't mean jack," he says forcefully. "I could be an international Chinese communist duck-molesting hermaphrodite who burns the Bible every night, and all that would matter is 'Does what I teach work?' Did it matter if Einstein's turtlenecks matched or if he was dating his first cousin? No! What mattered was his work. Who I am won't mean anything when I'm dead. What will matter is my work."

Nonetheless, Jeffries can't help make it known that he's negotiating a movie contract that will feature a character based on him. Because the specifics are still being worked out, he won't say any more. "I might be breaking some contract by even talking about it," he says importantly.

I wonder which of Jeffries' personalities the movie character will adopt. One of his friends, who spoke under the condition that he not be identified, said, "There's two Ross Jeffries. There's the macho, egotistical guy who teaches Speed Seduction, and then there's the Ross who is relaxed, cares about helping his friends, the guy who went out with Kimberly for a couple years."

And there's the other Ross. When Metro Santa Cruz reporter Kelly Luker asked Jeffries if his fixation on "scoring" and "getting some" was merely compensation for some "endowment issues," he became overtly hostile.

"That's the stupidest question I ever heard!" he exploded, making it appear, indeed, as if she had hit a small nerve. "Why would an intelligent woman ask such a stupid question?!"

One of Jeffries' students was quick, however, to retort calmly and with a perfectly straight face, "My only concern is if it will fit into my pants."

Behavior Model

JEFFRIES ARRIVES at Metro at about noon, wearing his tan Brioni suit, the kind he said he always wears, somewhat crumpled from riding in the back of a cab. When making his travel arrangements to San Jose, he had turned down offers to be picked up from his flight and scoffed at our attempts to provide directions.

"I'm renting one of those cars with a built-in navigation system; it's the only kind I rent. I don't need directions, it will take me right there," he had told me.

But now he's here in Metro's office with no navigation system and no car, a situation that seems to have him slightly on edge, but not too ruffled to comment every time a woman walks past. "Who's that?" he asks, in his best pervert voice. These women can just keep walking, but the models Metro has hired for the photo shoot with Jeffries cannot walk away. They're being paid to cling to him before the camera lens--too rich an opportunity for Jeffries to pass up. Once at the studio, the comments begin. Well before the conclusion of the shoot, the blonde model offers a nonverbal response and exits abruptly.

The other model is similarly unimpressed. "He asked me where I dance, you know, where I strip. I don't do that," Aimee says defensively. "He said he was getting aroused, and things like 'tit-elating, and 'a breast up.' Basically he was rude and arrogant. To tell you the truth, I do not know how he could pick up a woman. If I were single, I wouldn't even look twice.

Some women, however, do.

Mourning After

THE WOMEN WHO wake up in bed next to Jeffries or his students weren't drugged or raped, and they got on their backs of their own accord. But Jeffries' techniques take them rapidly into a sexual--and personal--conversation, lubed with unobtrusive, lulling tones. As a result, some women (especially younger women, with less defined boundaries) find themselves sharing personal space with a stranger, feeling an attraction that wouldn't ordinarily exist. And then they act upon that attraction, of their own free will. Is this unethical? Jeffries says no. In fact, Jeffries says, women like being manipulated into that state of inexplicable attraction; they want it.

"Leading her to feel intense emotional connections, leading her to feel intensely pleasurable sensations in her body, asking questions that require her to go deep into the core of her identity to answer," Jeffries preaches. "If you can create that for someone, you have led them into an experience, and you're creating a state of pure pleasure for them."

As for whether that state was artificially created, Jeffries says that Speed Seduction doesn't manipulate any more than a romantic poem or beautiful song does.

"The notion that you can capture and lead the imagination using language is the basis of literature, theater, poetry, jokes, myth and storytelling," he says. "Really, it's not so outlandish."

Why, then, does Jeffries present a disclaimer in the front pages of his book, cautioning readers that use of these techniques could lead to criminal or civil prosecution? "It's just covering my ass legally. We live in a litigious environment," Jeffries responds.

Jeffries' 18-year-old niece Alete goes to school at UC-Berkeley. Both fascinated and disgusted by what her uncle does, she and her friends have dropped by his seminars in the past to act as demonstration subjects. When his niece is watching, Jeffries keeps things pretty tame. But one time Alete's friends went without her.

"He would usually tone it down for my sake, but one time I couldn't go because I was in L.A. I guess he was really disgusting about it, saying things like, 'Oh, you're getting really excited.' On her way back to Berkeley, Annie started crying and saying that she wanted to go back and see him, that she wanted to go back to the seminar," Alete says. "She was really upset, and when I told my uncle, he called her because he didn't want to hurt any of my friends or anything."

Alete has lost contact with Annie, but Jeffries still boasts about this incident as a shining example of what he does.

"I had her cumming in front of the whole room," he gloats. "She was crying because she wanted to come back and see me. She thought she was in love with me for a few days."

Settling Down

ROSS JEFFRIES SAYS he doesn't get lonely. "I have a lot of women friends so that I don't have to worry about that, or be dependent on needing that."

But Ross does want a wife. In fact, he's decided he'd like to have one within the next three years. Every one of his five brothers and sisters is already married. Jeffries will be the last--that is, if he finds Ms. Right.

"If anyone reads this article and is interested in me, tell them they can write and send me a picture," he says.

I offer Jeffries a personal ad in Metro, but he declines.

"I'm not looking for a relationship," he emphasizes, "I'm open to one. But my intuition tells me strongly that I'll be married in the next few years."

For now, Jeffries is still single. And staying true to this lifestyle, he makes frequent visits to the Coffee Bean in Marina Del Rey, where young ladies are as abundant as caffe lattes. It's his favorite place to pick up women, or just chat them up. Ross guffaws when asked if the act of seducing is more satisfying than the actual sex. "I hope not. If that's the case, you must be having sex with the wrong person," he boasts. But later Jeffries admits he's looking for something more meaningful than just sex.

But for Jeffries, this does not mean ditching Speed Seduction in favor of being himself.

"What does that mean, be yourself? To me, that means not stepping outside your comfort zone." Speed Seduction, Jeffries says, stops becoming a set of techniques and becomes a way of looking at the world--one that says the world and its circumstances can be controlled, or at least strongly influenced, if you observe and direct.

Secrets to Happ-Penis

JEFFRIES, HIS STUDENT Lew and I have spent the last hour wandering through Valley Fair mall in search of bait for Jeffries to demonstrate his technique. However, we're preparing to leave since only teenagers and women with young kids seem to be out at this hour. Two times already, Jeffries has started to demonstrate on me, even though I tell him I don't want to participate.

Three days earlier, before Jeffries flew into San Jose, I had emailed him a pestering question: When the deed goes down, do these guys have to keep talking in the language patterns all night? Can they ever stop? Or will the "spell" be mysteriously broken if they do? Jeffries did not answer the question but instead had written me this response:

"Can you think of a better way for a man to use his lips and tongue with a woman than talking?" he wrote.

There was an addendum to this email.

"How involved do you get in your stories?"

This note received no response, and Jeffries and I seem to have reached an unspoken agreement: he will play his games and I will ignore them. In the interest of collecting information, I have put up with it--until now.

On our way out of the mall, in Macy's housewares department, Ross beckons Lew and me over to a display of crystal marbles. As I approach, he lowers his voice, adopts the hypnotic sound and begins working a pattern on me. I smile to show I'm aware of what he's doing, when Lew leans over my right shoulder and starts working another pattern in my other ear. The seducers flash each other an amused smile, and carry on with an even greater intensity. I turn bright red--it's uncomfortable and I'm embarrassed--and start walking out of the store. Two grown men run along behind me blathering about secret places, the secrets to "happ-penis" and opening my heart.

"It's working. Look, she's bright red," Jeffries says, fueling the male bonding ritual.

More self-conscious by all the attention, I can only laugh awkwardly and turn even deeper shades of red.

"Stop," I tell them, flustered and unable to think of anything better.

They continue.

"This is ridiculous," I try.

Unfazed, they whirl their patterns, as much to each other now as to me.

Finally, to my relief, they let up. We climb back into my car, a two-door Acura Integra, Lew in the back and, of course, Ross in front. For a few minutes Lew snickers from the back seat. I feel like I'm driving the boys home from baseball practice.

Two days later, Jeffries sends me an email titled "Fear vs. Truth."

"It's funny ... you won't let me demonstrate on you, and yet you doubt it works. If you doubt it works, why worry about a demonstration since it wouldn't work anyway? The worry shows on some level you do believe it can work," Jeffries writes.

"I honestly don't know if you'll be courageous enough to tell the truth, simply because you've admitted the prospect of SS working scares you. ... It's logical to assume that you'd be afraid to write a story that would encourage anyone to try it, for fear of spreading its use even further."

Other emails arrive, followed by phone calls from Jeffries' cheerleading crew. His ex-girlfriend Kim, a cute, blonde self-described "NLPer" who used to call Ross her "master," tells me that boys will be boys. Jeffries' friend Tom appeals to my critical side before trying to win me over. As a woman, he says, I must have some angry reaction to the idea of Speed Seduction. Jeffries himself appeals to my journalistic integrity, saying that if I write anything short of a honest examination of Speed Seduction, I don't deserve to call myself a reporter. I realize Jeffries is waging a power war against me.

Such exchanges show there are two sides to Ross Jeffries: the Ross who's laying the train track and controlling where each train goes, and the guy who's stuck riding backward aboard an out-of-control Silver Streak. Control is the crucial element of both Speed Seduction and neurolinguistic programming. If men use Speed Seduction formulas, they can allegedly control how a woman responds to them. They can make women feel as if they're with a sexy stallion who will deliver hours of pleasure. But control is key. Without it, the handsome prince will vanish from the woman's mind, and she'll see the true situation, a wart-ridden frog with a few lines that almost work.

In the end, Jeffries can't control the world. He can't control it when the rental car company runs out of self-navigating vehicles. He can't stop Bill Maher from calling Speed Seduction "crap" on the TV talk show Politically Incorrect. He can't control the model who storms out of the photo session. He can't control whether I am seduced by him--and maybe he can't even control himself.

Metro Santa Cruz reporter Kelly Luker contributed to this report.

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From the August 13-19, 1998 issue of Metro.

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