BY Alex Molotkow
In the summer of 2004, a newly single professional in his early forties wanted to sleep with as many women as possible. Sex being above all other considerations — time, money, shame — he took on the persona “Dimitri the Lover” and drafted a general sexual proposition for any “attractive, intelligent woman” who happened to read it. He printed a few thousand posters and hired a postering company. Together they placed them all over the city, from family-oriented neighbourhoods like the Beaches (where mothers’ groups ripped them down en masse) to York University campus (which alerted the police).
“I got dozens of responses. Dozens. And f**ked maybe 20 women, something like that. Not a lot,” Dimitri tells me. Of course, most people who saw the poster thought it was a joke. I did, until Dimitri hit on me in Starbucks two years later. I was taken aback, mostly because of the way he looked: tall and broad-shouldered, with dark, gelled-back hair. A stranger on the street might nickname him “Dimitri the Lover” as a joke.
Dimitri can spit out romantic hyperbole like a seasoned Don Juan, but his rants are reminiscent of Screw magazine’s Al Goldstein. His speeches, however eloquent, often spin off their axes and turn into wildly offensive tirades. He says he means no harm, though this might not be obvious to those who read his posters. Lately, he’s been posting ads for a community called Toronto Real Men. In early March, a notice for a meeting (“905 Keeps Your C**k Alive”) at Rancho Relaxo offended one person so much that they alerted the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. The store called the venue, which cancelled the event post-haste. “It just seemed like a joke when I saw it — I was shocked by it, but I didn’t think it was this serious thing,” says Rose Kazi, a Toronto Women’s Bookstore employee. “
That’s part of the reason why I went to Rancho — this might be a joke, but just so you know as a business, your name is on it.” On his website, www.dimitrithelover.com, Dimitri referred to the complainants as “bitter, moustached, man-hating, femi-nazi c*nts from socially regressive, evolutionarily non-sequitur organizations.”With Toronto Real Men, Dimitri has joined the “seduction community,” the vast network of dating gurus and “pickup artists” (PUAs) popularized by Neil Strauss’ 2005 book, The Game. According to Frank B. Kermit of www.franktalks.com, a Toronto-based seduction guru who specializes in relationship management, the movement began in the early ’90s, as a newsgroup dedicated to the convoluted techniques taught by Ross Jeffries (Tom Cruise’s character in Magnolia is said to be based on him). Some of the men immersed in the seduction lifestyle seem to be engaged in a real-life role-playing game, where PUAs like “Swinggcat,” “Mehow” and “Juggler” vie for experience points. Others are just lonely with little confidence.
“Most of these people are just guys looking for some guidance where their parents or society in general couldn’t give it to them,” says Miso G., proprietor of www.naturalseducers.com, a company that offers weekend training programs for men at $1,200 to $1,500 a pop, and a moderator at Toronto Phoenix Society, an online forum for men. “[Guys] would never ask for advice on topics like these as freely as girls would.”As with any self-help movement, there are plenty of hacks eager to capitalize on the downtrodden. There are also community organizations where nobody pays a thing.
“Think of it as alcoholics anonymous,” says Kermit, who has run “lairs” — free forums for men — in Toronto and elsewhere. Seduction groups have existed in Toronto for several years, but the movement remained obscure until Strauss’ book. Kermit’s Toronto Lair formed to absorb members from another group, the Toronto Social Network, which split in two (the other half being Toronto Phoenix Society) due to questionable leadership practices, including charging for mandatory seminars. Dimitri charges for Toronto Real Men, though he emphasizes that he doesn’t need the money. “They don’t get something for nothing,” he told me. “$250 a year, you’re a member. One meeting a month. I’m going to be offering courses to men on how to get f**ked, fast.”Dimitri was born in Toronto in the early 1960s. He had a rough upbringing:
“My father was very physically and emotionally abusive. My mother was just a borderline manic, histrionic, dramatic woman, and I did not grow up really understanding what love was.” A nerdy overachiever in high school, he didn’t lose his virginity until he was 20. He became a physician, but lost his licence after pleading guilty to charges of sexual impropriety during house calls. His lawyers pressured him into the decision, he says. “I asked [one patient] out on a date, and we chatted a bit, I said give me a call sometime, gave her a goodbye hug. That was it.”Two more women came forward with similar stories after reading about him in the newspaper, he continues, and one recalled that he had “spent too much time in the bathroom.”
“At the time, I was married. And my wife was sexually dysfunctional, I had not had sex with her in a year and a half. It was a very tough time, I was very horned up. And I was busy, between that and working, so for me it was easy to hit on chicks that were patients.”In the aftermath, Dimitri says, he lost everything he owned and spent half a year on welfare. His sex drive remained intact, however, and without money for dates he became more direct with women. He credits the experience for ridding him of all regard for social norms. It also embittered him against what he considers to be feminist alarmism.
“[Toronto Real Men is] a rebellion against society, and what they’ve turned men into. I should never have gotten in trouble for what happened. I should have maybe gotten a slap on the wrist… [Toronto Real Men is] a rebellion against feminism, and really feminism is what’s created a lot of this. Sexual harassment in the workplace — it’s so overblown.”The personal coaching courses he now offers, including “Women Worship You” and “Worship the C**k,” are intended to help men assert their masculinity.
Dimitri claims to live by principles, though it’s difficult to distinguish them amid his inflammatory digressions. He’s honest about his intentions, and he speaks earnestly when not caught up in showmanship. Whatever he does with women, he insists that he always does it consensually. The many conquests he claims certainly make him a desirable seduction guru: he says he’s slept with 400 to 500 women, a modest figure given his compulsion for hitting on every halfway attractive woman he sees. When I went “cruising” with him around the St. Lawrence area, I watched him pick up several pretty girls with rapid efficiency. I also saw him weather several cold rejections, which he attributed alternately to ethnicity, “Paul Bernardo Syndrome” and confusion. He had a remarkable knack for determining who would be receptive to him. When they weren’t, he assumed they had been abused by another man. “If a woman doesn’t trust me, usually she’s a nut job,” he once told me.
Some feel as though Dimitri goes too far, online and elsewhere. “I do not associate with Dimitri the Lover,” Kermit says. “I had no idea the guy was as misogynistic as he is. [He’s] very charming and very entertaining… [but] I will not endorse people who promote the idea of violence, even as a joke.”
For a feminist, it’s difficult to respond to somebody whose MO is feminist-baiting. “If you want to have a party with straight men talking about how to get girls, you know, that’s fucked up, but I’m not going to stop you,” says Kazi of Toronto Women’s Bookstore. “But [Dimitri’s ad] was just disturbing. I don’t know — maybe he should just change his marketing angle.” Kazi and Alex MacFadyen, another bookstore employee, laugh it off. “We’re very sex-positive, so that’s not the problem,” MacFadyen comments.
“I encourage him to come in! And, you know, get a book,” says Kazi.
What would they recommend?
“What about C**t?” Kazi suggests.
MacFadyen howls. “The Ethical Slut!”
Pick Up Artists or F**ked up Men?
The "Seduction" Community
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