Inside The Fresh Hell That Is A “Get The Guy” Seminar
Clutching my floor-length brown winter coat, I look like a large, snow-covered turd as I shuffle across Eighth Avenue toward Hunter College in the Upper East Side. I follow a school of young women in salt-stained Lululemon leggings and Uggs through the side doors of the Kaye Playhouse. When I enter, the sudden warmth of the indoors causes my glasses to fog. I attempt to clean them with a wet glove when I’m asked my name by one of the bubbly women at registration. She gives me a sticker with “Sara” written on it in blue permanent ink and I promptly shove it inside my bag.
“Straight through the doors,” she says smiling as she gestures to a row of brown metal doors behind her. She’s here to make us feel welcome, to feel okay about the fact that we trekked from the suburbs of New Jersey and depths of Brooklyn on the day after Valentine’s Day — during a blizzard — to this “seminar,” where a single 26-year-old British man will teach us how to find “true love.”
There are at least a hundred women there. I slide into the row fourth from the back — the last three are taped off — and squeeze into a seat against the wall. I’m sitting alone until a middle-aged redheaded woman sits quietly next to me, two seats over. She smiles sheepishly at me and sits down without taking her coat off.
On either end of the stage are two large cardboard cut-outs of Matthew Hussey — the host of this four-hour-long “Get The Guy” seminar — with a woman’s well-manicured hand adjusting his bow tie. Rihanna’s “We Found Love In a Hopeless Place” plays.
Full disclosure, I’m gay, but I’m here because my roommate saw the Groupon and thought it was something I’d find ridiculous and could maybe write about. I’ve always been fascinated by the world of heterosexual dating advice. Straight women are constantly inundated with ridiculous sex tips — despite orgasming significantly less than men because guys don’t know what they’re doing most of the time — and are fed articles on how to tell if their man is cheating based on their grooming habits.
“Gurus” like Hussey profit off the idea that women need to “fix” whatever it is they’re doing “wrong” in order to be lovable. It’s like Mark Manson writes in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, these kinds of programs “laser in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be, and then emphasizes them for you.”
In this college auditorium amidst seizure-enduring strobe lights, these women’s perceived shortcomings are amplified in surround sound. An introductory video plays and we see Hussey sipping Pinot Grigio with Hoda and Kathy Lee. We see him tell a woman on the verge of tears, “You’re enough, you don’t need someone else to be enough.” But if he actually wanted women to believe that, then he’d be out of business.
As Ke$ha’s “Timber” begins to play, Hussey jogs onto the stage wearing a gray pinstripe blazer, a white V-neck t-shirt, and maroon corduroy pants. Screams emit from the first three rows like we’re at a One Direction concert. He tells us about some come-to-Jesus moment he had in a yoga studio once, leading him to want to start his own “dating empire.” Most of his “dating advice” is just business advice with the added exploitation of these women’s self-esteem. It makes me very sad to think we all could just be at a business class right now, instead of shouting “I own you bitch!” into each other’s faces — but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Hussey promises to give us our “power back,” which of course implies that we’ve been powerless up until this point. Then he launches into what he calls “the economics of it all.” He asks the room how many of us meet 10 new men a week. No hands go up. Then seven, five, four, three, two, one. Few people raise their hands for any of them. I meet at least three new men a week, but I don’t think he’s counting Seamless delivery guys.
“Statistically, you’re going to have a harder time meeting a guy that’s right for you, if you never meet anyone at all,” Hussey explains. “Most women are so hell-bent on finding the one, that they don’t find anyone.” He says it’s not about experiences, but the intensity of those experiences. “I don’t care if you get in a relationship or not,” he said to a room full of women who’d traversed Manhattan in multiple feet of snow for that very reason. “Don’t think of relationships as a barometer of success. You can be happy and single.”
Only in order to be happy, you need power, and that can be difficult when you have a “biological timeline,” according to Hussey. “Women have become women’s worst enemy,” he says. This is of course not true, and you know this if you’re a woman who has ever left her house or used the internet. Men’s “lack of a biological clock is the only thing that gives them any power,” he says. I start to laugh and have to turn it into a hacking cough. The redhead asks if I’m okay and I nod.
Now he’s got a room full of women who most likely felt powerless going into this thing feeling even more validated in the fact that they have no power. That men have the power. And that Hussey is the guy to give it back to them. His strategy? Hit on everyone. Everywhere you go. No excuses.
“Are you Polish?” Hussey suggests asking a complete stranger as a way to break the ice. “I love your tie; stay away from me I’m obsessed with ties!” is another gem he offers, and finally, “You look like you’d be charming, but I don’t have time to find out.” It’s unclear what we’re supposed to do after saying that last one, vanish into thin air?
He recommends asking for help, because men “love to be needed,” or negging them by shoving them and saying, “Move! You and your big shoulders!” Or you can go with a “classic,” Hussey says, like “We haven’t met yet, I’m Jessica.” (In Hussey’s world, all women are named Jenny and Jessica.) If you’re really hot, you can get away with a simple observation: “It’s so busy in here.” And never forget, ladies, if a viable single man sneezes within earshot of you, you “better be the one to say ‘God bless you,’” Hussey warns.
According to Hussey meeting 10-plus dudes a week is a completely feasible goal. If you “don’t have time,” that’s just another excuse. “Anyone who has time for yoga and not to find a man is crazy,” he yells at a timid audience member when she suggests her busy schedule is the reason she can’t maintain a romantic relationship.
“It takes 60 seconds to meet someone,” he says. “Even New Yorkers can take 60 seconds on their way to work.”
I think about the man I pass on the way to the subway each day who sits outside the Boost Mobile on my block rocking back and forth shouting “YEAH! YEAH!” into a broken microphone. Or the guy who sells coconuts and Christmas trees (year round) on the corner next to my bodega who yells “Bitch, what that smell like?!” at every passing woman. Or The Nature Conservancy employee who bombards me on my way off the train to ask if I know where they can “find the nearest smile.” It’s a wonder these women can’t meet anyone!
It’s not only what you say to a man that matters, Hussey explains to two nervous volunteers on stage (clearly “fans”), but also how you look at them. There are two “stages” of looking at someone, he says. First you “register them” and then you “notice them.” I take this to mean, you look at them and then eye-fuck them. But it’s unclear. He just keeps telling the volunteers to be “cheekier.”
Then, as if the first three hours weren’t painful enough, Hussey asks us to dance. Reluctantly pulling myself up from my seat, I smile weakly at the quiet redhead to my left. We’re asked to do a series of dance moves that a room full of mostly middle-aged white woman would understand, like the “sprinkler,” the “lawn mower,” and the Macarena. He also instructs us to “drop it low.”
We’re all supposed to dance with each other and then create our own “move.” This “power move” is intended to give us confidence? Or something? I’m really not sure, but Hussey bangs on his chest like a gorilla and shouts about how he “dominated” his career. It’s all very Matthew McConaughey in Wolf of Wall Street.
That’s when he asks us to turn to the person next to us and shout, “I own you bitch!” The polite redhead and I do it, but we both immediately apologize after. Once everyone is done half-heartedly jumping up and down to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” we take our seats and Hussey leads us into the last (thank god) hour of the seminar.
He explains that women have perceived value, like Apple products, and that “unique pairings” are attractive. Like “being cocky and a gentleman,” he says, which is clearly what he’s going for, and then “being feminine and independent,” because those two things are contradictions to Hussey. Then he tells a story about a woman in a power suit who once needed him to open a jar and how that made him “melt.” Men, he says, want a woman that is “affectionate but can occupy herself” — like a cat!
At that point, he asks us to stand and do a “sexy” dance and I begin to pack my things. Then he asks us to try talking dirty and I ask God to strike me dead. A song called “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” plays loudly over the speakers and everyone begins to touch their hair because that’s how white women dance “sexy.” As I try to exit the row, he instructs us to hug two people. I hug the shy redhead because I happen to be squeezing past her seat, and also I feel like we’ve been through war together at this point. “Say yes!” Hussey shouts. People shout “Yes!” The redhead and I kind of shrug at one another.
Just as I’m about to leave, Hussey puts on another video, this time it’s a half-hour long ad for his “Lifestyle Retreats” in Florida. Apparently, four to eight hours with Hussey (the lengths of his seminars) aren’t enough to fully “change you.” The retreats cost thousands of dollars and are supposed to help you “design a blueprint for your life.” My heart sinks for all the women that might be suckered into signing up.
The longer Hussey can convince you you’re broken, the more money he can make by fixing you. “Giving a fuck about more stuff is good for business,” Manson writes, but “bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction.” I wonder how long these women will spend chasing the mirage. They don’t need someone to be enough, as Hussey claims, but they also don’t need to pay Hussey to tell them that.
As “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” starts playing again, I’ve decided that the party has killed me, and I need to leave. While images of sobbing women on yoga mats light up the screen, I sneak out through the heavy auditorium doors and back into the storm outside.