In the New York Times bestseller The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, the book that exposed millions to the burgeoning seduction community, author Neil Strauss devoted an entire chapter to Zan Perrion, calling him “the undisputed heavyweight of the genre” and noting that “in four years, he never once asked for advice, he only gave it.” Seduction icon David DeAngelo has called Zan “an example of a true natural,” and Mystery, of VH-1’s The Pickup Artist, has stated, “I want to be like Zan.”
Zan, though, maintains that he is not a pickup artist. Instead, he is a romance artist, one who views women as the highest form of art and has dedicated his life to the pursuit of beauty in all its forms. As the founder of the Ars Amorata philosophy — a celebration of the art of seduction and the rebirth of romance — and a co-founder of the Amorati network of men, Zan is one of the most original and insightful voices on relationships and seduction in the world today. After ten years of writing, Zan released his first book, The Alabaster Girl, in December of 2013. Within its pages, Zan recounts his life, philosophies and insights into the world of romance.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I grew up in the forests of northern Canada. In fact, I lived in log cabins with no electricity or running water for most of my teens. Then at around age nineteen, with no formal education and no money, I emerged, as it were, into society. I immediately started along the much-touted path of societal prudence: get a job, get a mortgage, buy lots of things, save for your retirement. I continued along this path, working my way up through corporate structures, until I found myself, at around age forty, in a senior position in a Canadian corporation. Then I quit. I sold my apartment, gave away all my possessions, reduced everything I owned to a carry-on bag, and hit the road. I had also spent that entire time as a student of women, and so I turned that into a job, you could say. I have spent the last decade writing and talking to men about women. That is obviously the highly condensed version of my story. But the interesting thing I would like to mention is the fact that there is some part of me that is being slowly but inexorably drawn back to the simplicity of the forest. Back then all I had was a bed, a book, and a writing desk. And, metaphorically at least, I feel my whole life’s journey is a returning to the days of sneaking through the forest.
Who have been your biggest influences throughout your life?
Without a doubt, historical characters. I mentioned the fact that I have no formal education, but I am exceedingly well-read. And what do I read? History and philosophy mostly. I am absolutely fascinated by characters who lived their lives in adventure, who trusted the wind to guide them along their personal journey, who relaxed in the arms of life. Stories of scoundrels like Casanova and Cellini, and the unfettered lives they lived, influenced me greatly.
Have you always been comfortable around women, or is that a skill you acquired over time?
I was exceedingly insecure and needy when I first started out on my journey into the land of women. My early twenties were an embarrassment of head-scratching failures. But I stayed, I persisted, I kept going, kept trying to understand the hearts and minds of women, no matter how much rejection I experienced. The interesting thing is you never “arrive.” No one jumps out of bed one day and ta-da! now they are “good with women.” All of life is a slow unwrapping of layers of understanding, with occasional bursts of sudden insight.
How did you first become aware of the seduction community?
I was around almost from the beginning. The internet blossomed and along with it a novel way to interact in real-time with others around the world with similar interests. Forums and websites sprung up everywhere, and I was one of the early guys sharing ideas and thoughts about women and seduction on those early boards.
For you, what defines the Ars Amorata philosophy?
The official mission statement is this: “Ars Amorata is a celebration of the art of seduction, the rebirth of romance, and a lifelong quest for beauty and adventure.” And, unofficially, that pretty much sums it up. The Ars Amorata philosophy is a “vision quest” for men, a path of discovery for authenticity, a reclamation of masculine mystique, and a lifelong celebration of women and the female spirit.
What inspired you to write The Alabaster Girl?
The wonderful women I have met along my journey inspired me to write the book. I have experienced some incredibly life-giving and inspiring women in my time. And I suppose I just wanted to present these women to men. As in, “Look at the great beauty that it is possible to encounter in this world. Can you see what I see?” Having said that, never do I believe that women are all innocent angels from heaven. There are as many insincere, bitchy, and manipulative women in the world as there are insincere, bitchy, and manipulative men. But I like to start from a perspective of seeking beauty. The way I have always said it is this: “Beauty needs a witness.”
What was your most memorable first date?
Well, I have to say that the first date I had with my current girlfriend was the most memorable. We met three years ago in Romania and had a glass of wine together and the evening was wonderful. But that wasn’t the end of it. I was scheduled to fly out to Canada the next evening, and so we both realized there was a very real possibility that we might not see each other again.
That night as I tried to sleep, I developed a strong fever. I was simultaneously sweating and freezing in my bed and I chalked it up to sudden food poisoning or something. The next morning, I felt perfectly fine, and thought, well, that was strange. But when I looked in the mirror, I noticed a red rash on my chest. So off to see the doctor! The doctor took one look at me, then laughed and asked me if I had ever had measles as a child. “Of course I did,” I told her. “At least I think I did. But, uh, I am not sure.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter because you have it now!” she said. I happened to mention then that I was scheduled to fly to Canada later that day, and she said, “Nope, you’re not going anywhere. You are quarantined for ten days!” So to keep the story short, I ended up staying in Bucharest for ten more days, and this lovely girl whom I had just met took care of me every single day, fed me and watered me and mopped my brow, so to speak. And here we are now, three years later, and we have been together almost every day!
What is a typical Zan Perrion seminar like?
Over the years, I have done everything from one-on-one sessions to large week-long conferences — peppered along the way with a few university lectures and various speaking engagements. I guess the thing that characterizes the work I do is that I never see guys as having some kind of problem to “fix.” Thus, I never do anything that resembles therapy or delving into the past. We are all broken, we are all just trying to figure it out. Instead, I encourage my students to shake hands with the past and to look out and away, toward the distant horizons of possibility. If anything, I am a story-teller. That’s probably the best description of what I do. I tell stories, and if others can find themselves in the stories, and can relate and find inspiration, then to me, that is the greatest thing.
How has the seduction community changed since you were first starting out? Has it changed?
Back when it all started, everyone jumped upon the promises of the burgeoning “seduction community” as some kind of panacea or quick fix for all of their relationship woes. “You will get phone numbers with ease! You will get laid every night! You will have as many girlfriends as you desire!” And for a remarkable number of years, men clung to those promises and optimism ran rampant. Things like “field reports” and tips and techniques were everywhere. Fast forward to today and it’s completely changed. It finally dawned on men that, even though they were approaching more girls, they still didn’t have women in their lives. They still didn’t have a girlfriend, they still couldn’t understand women, and the phone numbers they did manage to harvest were nothing more than little bits of useless paper. None of the promises were delivered. So an inevitable backlash developed against the “gurus” and the pickup artist community in general. And now you find a lot of these former dating coaches (and their students) turning en masse toward more mainstream ideas — things like meditation and practicing “presence,” and clearing the mind, etc. None of this is new, of course. Just revived.
Where are you most comfortable?
Without question, in the presence of women. I adore women, and I love to be around them. I derive a great deal of my energy from the female spirit. I am even comfortable around women who are initially skeptical about what I do — even women who are jaded or angry at men. I am completely in my element with women.
What’s the best song you’ve heard recently?
The soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch movie Dead Man. It is only one song throughout the movie and it’s just Neil Young alone on a guitar. Haunting and searching and beautiful.
What would you like to do that you simply haven’t found the time for yet?
Write my second book! Something is brewing in me, taking shape. I have thousands of words gathered already — mostly notes and ideas of what I want to write about in my next book. I took a year off from writing after I published The Alabaster Girl (to think and to brood) and now I can feel a surge of desire to tackle this next project.