PHOTOS (PHOTOGRAPHS BY TODD HEISLER/THE NEW YORK TIMES)
The Ladies’ Man
John Keegan, 35, hires himself out as a coach to men who want help learning how to meet women. He studied psychology before pursuing a career in acting and says he is fascinated by human behavior; he cites the book ”The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” as a major influence.
Mr. Keegan began his business as a dating coach, using the moniker Awaken, in 2007, on the urging of a friend. He currently has 12 clients, and charges $2,000 for 10 sessions. He also acts in commercials.
A vegan who eats mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds — often washed down with red wine — Mr. Keegan lives on the Lower East Side with two roommates. He is single, and said he typically goes on three dates a week.
People often say, ‘What do you do?’ and I think that answering that question outright 8 out of 10 times is antithetical to your purpose. Ask me what I do and I’ll say, ‘Guess,’ and you’ll say, ‘O.K., I’ll guess,’ or you’ll say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to guess,’ and I’ll say, ‘Come on, don’t you think it would be more fun if we guessed?’ Because this is all about having fun and being playful and sort of leaving our mind and our mental patterns and just kind of being present. That’s when attraction is built, because we both feel good, like children.
I guess about five years ago, I had broken up with a girl, and there’s moments that I would have — maybe when I was hopped up on coffee or something — when I would have the courage to approach a girl.
And maybe if the girl just for some reason found me attractive, she would take over and finish it. And then maybe I could ask her out or something. But a lot of times I would see a girl I was attracted to and I didn’t know what to do.
I looked on the Internet for this sort of how-to-meet-women kind of thing, and to my surprise a bunch of, like, blogs came up by various people actually working on this like a science. So I started taking what these people were saying and I just took it out to the street and I began to see every interaction as, like, a scene in a play.
One of the biggest things I did that was sort of both ego-bruising at first, but it had to be, and then ultimately liberating, was I made a pact with myself that I will talk to five women every day for the next three weeks — and all five women, no matter what, I’m going to ask for their phone number, I’m going to ask them out. This was sort of burning up my ego in the face of rejection.
No one’s ever said something like, ‘Get away from me’ to me, or any of this kind of thing. I don’t think ever, really. I mean, they’ve looked at me like they wanted me to. Well, maybe a couple of girls did. I forgot about them.
They call people pickup artists, and I think that’s a derogatory term. There’s nothing more important and more empowering than becoming good at being a socializer — not a schmoozer, which is another derogatory term, but someone who is being authentic in a moment-to-moment way and being very specific and being very playful, which is very Buddha-like, right? It’s very spiritual.