I wish I would have heard famous mPUA (master pickup artist) Neil Strauss divulge his techniques and tactics for celebrity interviews before I interviewed him back in December about his Bible for the dateless: The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.
Although I don’t know how the tips would have applied: All I got was a phoner; he kept getting delayed (playing hard to get?); it was brief, somewhat rushed; and I couldn’t seduce him into opening up about his Jewish background.
Nowadays, through blogs and seminars, he still pumps techniques and tactics for seducing and dating women, but let’s not forget that Strauss’ accomplishments go beyond relationships and threesomes with HBs (hot babes, in pickup lingo). He is an award-winning journalist (New York Times, Rolling Stone, among others), bestselling author and all-in-all fabulous writer.
He kicked off the book tour of his just-released Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead with an intimate “master class” in Hollywood with the LA Press Club on March 10. The book covers the journalistic journey behind his best work—revealing profiles of the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Chuck Berry. As it turns out, techniques and tactics for “gaming” HBs into bed aren’t much different from those needed to “game” hot celebrities into intimate interviews, particularly when the Twitter-age renders journalists dispensable to dysfunctional stars.
Here are top ten tips he gave the 25 or so journalists who gathered to hear him speak (along with odd AFC–Average Frustrated Chump–who came to meet their pickup guru.)
1. Research. Find out everything you can about the person you’re interviewing. (He bowed out on an interview with Mariah Carey so he wouldn’t have to listen to all her songs).
2. Don’t write the piece that other journalists are writing; take it to the next level. For example, speaking on the eve of his interview with the overly-interviewed Charlie Sheen, he said: “I want to advance the idea of who Charlie Sheen is.”
3. Write and sort out all your questions, whether smart or stupid, with the first question setting the tone. Memorize them before the interview.
“The worse thing you can do is have a list of written questions,“ he said. “You also have to follow where they go.”
4. Ask for time to observe, to be in the room.
5. Don’t do the interview all at once. Apply the hypnotherapy technique of “fractionation” in which you take the subject into a trance then break it, only to have them go deeper during second round. (See video below for more)
6. Don’t be judgmental.
“If you’re not judgmental, they’ll tell you their secrets.”
7. Find out and use their “trance” or key words. For example, when interviewing Tom Cruise, the actor repeatedly used the word “extraordinary.” To entice Cruise into opening up about Scientology, he used the word “extraordinary”, as in, “it would be extraordinary is actually going to the [Scientology] Celebrity Center with you and watching how it’s actually done.”
8. Ask the interviewees questions that sincerely interest you.
“Genuine curiosity is the best tactic to have in an interview.”
9. Let the star bring up the “elephant in the room” topic.
“I will wait and wait and let them bring it up first, and then I can follow up with questions.”
10. Tell them things they didn’t know about themselves. He did so with Britney Spears, in the famous interview chronicled in The Game. When he couldn’t break through her one-liner responses, he revealed her personality type by studying her facial expressions. He ended up leaving the interview with her number.
Video by Dennis Wilen