This Beijing pick-up artist never fails

We trail a professional dater

Faye Zheng

'Foreigners, Americans, English people are more willing to approach girls because they don’t have so much pressure,’ says Beijinger William, 20, sat in Joy City shopping mall’s Starbucks. ‘But for Chinese people, due to traditional culture, we are more conservative and we have pressure when we approach girls.’

Whether there is less dating pressure for foreigners living in Beijing as there is for Chinese or not, I’d argue that the love game is still not an easy one here. Once you’ve ignored a thousand ‘What do you do? I’m an English teacher’ Tinder messages and had no success staring at hot people in hutong bars whilst winking and rubbing your upper legs (just me?), options are limited.

Hence today I’ve come to Joy City to meet professional pick-up artist Kong Feng, 32, and a small class of his students including William. Feng set up the PUA Space school two years ago, and has helped around 700 students via in-person and online courses.

Online courses cost 1,300RMB, while seven-, 15- and 30-day joint class, field and online courses cost 7,800, 9,800 and 12,800RMB respectively.

Feng says that most of his students are diaosi: young Chinese men with poor social skills who don’t pay much heed to their appearance. ‘They either feel nervous when talking to girls, or they have never even tried to talk to a girl,’ says Feng, who with his boyish looks and heavy layer of foundation make-up resembles a young Chinese version of Soft Cell singer Marc Almond.

He says that the first step is always updating a student’s wardrobe, and the expensive togs worn by the four students he’s brought along today are testament to this. Nothing they’re wearing looks more than a week old.

From there, Feng holds classroom lessons about building confidence, borrowing from the methods of 2007 pick-up manual The Mystery Method: How To Get Beautiful Women Into Bed. However, he insists that most of his techniques are about building basic social confidence because that, rather than learning manipulative tricks to bed women with, is what he’s found that Beijing customers need most.

‘I teach them that the most important thing between a boy and a girl is emotion,’ he says. But surely there must be some sneaky tricks? ‘No, I teach them body language: motions and angles to stand in. We encourage guys to touch a girl on the arm or shoulder under a safe limit and sense her comfort levels through her expressions.’

It soon becomes clear that Feng’s classes, despite being professional operations (he hires four to five other pick-up artists on a full-time basis), are far removed from the rally-like Western pick-up seminars that have got the industry under so much fire recently and built associations with unwanted sexual attention.

‘I’d never tell a boy to act like a gangster,’ says Feng. ‘A guy needs to see whether a girl is alone or with friends and always state his purpose – to make friends with them first – clearly. He should never just go in front of her or say hi in a dark place. There are bad people in this industry, but I am an exception.’

We head into the mall. What follows is heroic. The four students are hardly model material, but their confidence levels are ridiculously high. There’s no doubt that Feng has made sure only his star students come along today to big him up in front of the media, but still, if their claims that they were previously too shy to approach girls are true, then this is quite some turnaround.

As soon as one of the group sees a pretty girl walking around he zips off and introduce himself with a phrase along the lines of, ‘Hello, you look lovely, I’d like to get to know you, can I have your WeChat details please?’ Around three times out of five, it actually works.

Twenty-year-old Mo gets fobbed off on his first try, but minutes later disappears around a corner after spotting someone who tickles his fancy. He returns with a melon slice-sized grin. ‘I just said hello, was polite and we had a nice chat and I got her WeChat,’ he says.

Feng tells the guys the importance of making sure new contacts accept them as WeChat friends before they depart. Then to ensure that they post up cool, funny Moments on the app to generate interest before they message the girls.

Then the master shows them how it’s done, scooting down the corridor and next to a beautiful girl perusing designer goods. Her laughter echoes down the hall as she pulls out her phone to take Feng’s details – and he doesn’t return for another 15 minutes.

For the students, it’s inspirational stuff: Feng is clearly a source of the complete lack of fear of rejection they’re showing today. There are sure to be many students that never reach such confidence levels, but you have to say that, for these guys, the course expense has been money well spent.

The vibe of the day is fun and friendly, not remotely seedy, and I find myself inspired. I see a lovely-looking lady checking out Oakley sunglasses and steel myself for an approach.

Sadly, I suddenly remember how basic the Mandarin phrases I’ve mastered so far are. Anticipating that she won’t be all that impressed by my asking her to ‘please turn left at the junction’, ‘show me the picture menu’ and especially not ‘give me an 80 percent discount’, I decide I’d better not try quite yet.

  • 4 out of 5 stars