Sometimes, even the NY Times has urges—Millennial-shaming may make them feel cool during the day, but it isn't going to warm up their beds at night. Self-parodying trend pieces aren't enough to brush aside the unyielding loneliness of urban living. And they've learned the hard way that all the monocles in the world can't make someone love you. So who does the Times turn to for help when they are ready to mingle? A real life "Hitch"—who, of course, resents the term "pickup artist."
Anthony Recenello, 29, was profiled by the Times this weekend due to his prowess at convincing men with low self-esteem that they deserve love. Throughout the piece, Recenello and his clients bristle at the idea that they are out to "pick up lots of women." Instead of a pickup artist (PUA), he is described as being "a social development coach," dating coach, romantics professor, courage therapist, interactions teacher, "babysitter, gymnastics instructor and life coach for young children."
"When I see those type of people at a bar, they’re immediately noticeable," he said to them, referring to pickup artists. "They’re on the prowl. They use pickup lines and recited stories. They’re coming at it from a place of conquering, where they weren’t able to in high school. I’m not about that at all."
To his credit, Recenello rejects many formative PUA ideologies, such as "negging" (saying subtle insults to "lower a girl’s social value in relation to yours"), instead preaching self-help advice such as, "Be yourself, don’t worry about rejection, be vulnerable, be present." But a rose by any other name would still prick as sharply, and Recenello is still selling men on concepts such as "meditative mingling," holding their hands as they attempt to (literally) pick up women at bars and clubs.
Still, it's certainly interesting to learn more about what is essentially the next generation of PUAs: Recenello is far more self-aware about the negative publicity PUAs have had in recent years. His clients certainly worship him: "He’s almost like a therapist,” a client named John said of him. "What he prescribes is almost medicine. All of us, we need this one last push. We’re so sick of being safe."
Ultimately, Recenello wants to take his version of pickup artistry aboveground: "People don’t like talking about the pickup artist community because of what it is. I want to make what I’m doing mainstream, something that people are proud to say they’re doing." Of course, it's worth noting that only one of the three clients interviewed by the Times was willing to let his full name be used in the story.