If a pickup artist falls in the woods and no one notices…

Every woman’s reaction to being approached by a “pickup artist.”

Bryan “Double B” Barton of Sac Pickup infamy tried to extend his 15 minutes by holding a June 6 press conference outside Arden Fair mall, which banned the self-proclaimed pickup artist in April for pestering female customers during one of his boot camps.

Now I wrote about Barton’s seduction start-up in April, and readers—at least on SN&R’s Facebook page—were grossed out. They didn’t understand why we devoted column inches to a 33-year-old dude trying to make a living off of what some considered low-rent manipulation of the opposite sex. The class I audited took place at Dive Bar on a Saturday night. I brought a couple of female friends for their assessment, and they weren’t as tough as I expected them to be. (Even when Barton started telling them how women think.) Mostly they complained that the skinny, pale Barton looked nothing like Jon Hamm.

“What’s he doing teaching a class like this?” one wondered.

That’s precisely the point of the larger PUA submovement. It’s all about overlooked, average guys learning how to seduce women with their brains rather than their (lacking) brawn. The problem with this is many of the lessons seem tinged with a kind of anti-woman resentment that’s carried over from adolescence. PUA defenders may say it’s all about being the best versions of themselves, but it comes across like baiting the least discerning versions of women.

They use military jargon like “high-value target” to describe a woman they want to seduce, misogynistic terms like “bottom bitch” for someone they don’t, and tell practitioners to pepper attractive women with low-grade insults wrapped in backhanded compliments. The idea, they say, is to make yourself seem less attainable and, thus, more attractive. The effect is to play on someone’s insecurities so you can take advantage. That’s reprehensible.

Barton charges aspiring ladies’ men $160 apiece for his four-day boot camps, which involve him and his students chatting up female strangers at malls, coffee houses and bars. Barton says he’s also had run-ins with security at Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights and the Westfield Galleria at Roseville. You can watch abruptly edited videos on his website and decide for yourself how effective or ethical it looks.

I don’t mean to slag off on Barton. He’s a nice enough guy and seems sincere about his intentions.

But when he sent me and other media outlets the press release regarding the Arden Fair publicity stunt, and then put in a personal call to see if I would attend, I decided there were better ways to spend a Thursday morning. (Like arriving late to the office.)

I did read Ed Fletcher’s humorous coverage in The Sacramento Bee about what a humbling non-event it ended up being. Accompanied by his attorney, Barton proclaimed his First Amendment “freedom to flirt,” then entered the mall and tried to get arrested. Three times. He couldn’t.

As someone who writes a lot about poor folks who can’t avoid getting arrested, Double B should believe me when I say he’s onto something. In Sacramento, escaping a bust is a way more valuable skill than questionable pickup tactics.

Especially in this privacy-waning era, being ignored is a rare prize that Barton should cultivate. With his entrepreneurial zazz, he’ll make success out of oblivion in no time.

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