The Pick Up Artist

Amy Sohn writes in New York magazine about New York lawyer and writer Chris London:

[He] lives the love life most men can only dream of. But for all his success in the sack, he insists that what he’s really looking for is a woman he can take home for keeps.

In an August 12 blog, London takes on Stephanie Klein, who was lauded in The New York Times for living the Sex in the City lifestyle:

I met Stephanie Klein about a year ago. I was introduced to her blog by a friend Ari and subsequently met her. I am aware of and have myself interacted with some of New York's best writers and journalists, or at least those covering the social beat who write about the social life and style undercurrent, like Warren St. John, Amy Sohn, Vanessa Grigoriadis, Richard Johnson, Ben Widdicombe etc. all of whom I have met. So I was curious that perhaps here was yet another, New York Original in the form of little Stephanie Klein. Unfortunately, I have found Stephanie to be about as original as Ray's Pizza. But I am sure that her response would be to kish mir in tuchis since she is the one with the huge advance and more fat pay days ahead.

When I first met Stephanie, I was very much looking for reasons to like her. As much as I genuinely tried, or a number of reasons, I found it incredibly difficult to find any substance of character in her persona beyond the self promotion. Like a good Publicist or Director of Communications in a political campaign she was adept at remaining on message. At first I thought it was perhaps because I did not understand her, her blog or what she was about. I even questioned whether I was being unfair. So, I gave it time, spent more time in her company and yet my perception did not change. I could not find the soul of Stephanie Klein and in fact after a year, gave up looking for it. In fact, the more time I spent with her socially the more I came to realize that my first impressions were dead on.

Stephanie Klein's Greek Tragedy is prepackaged by design. The Puff Daddy of the blogging world's chic lit set, Stephanie Klein is a caricature of a New York City female based upon the fictional character Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. That Stephanie does so while attempting to cultivate the hip downtown edginess of the pre-married Amy Sohn, does not maker her Amy Sohn. Like many of the chic lit bloggers, her stories are by design so tragically ironic as well as terribly self absorbed and indulgent. A conversation with Stephanie Klein always leads back to uh well......Stephanie Klein of course. See Straight up andBraggy, The Other Side of "Fame".

After all the time I spent with Stephanie Klein, I have found her to be very much a fictional person living a fictional life, one that is designed or choreographed for the purpose of creating an utterly fabulous blogging persona.

I call Chris Wednesday night at his Manhattan law office.

We discuss Stephanie Klein and how better-looking female writers get more attention.

Luke: "So many women in their 30s don't realize how much their stock has gone down. I've lived in LA for eleven years. Many of the women I met in my first few years here have now gone to seed. And they used to be gorgeous and unapproachable."

Chris: "I know a girl in her 40s. When she was in her late 20s, she met a guy who's now extremely successful. He had an MBA and went to work for UPS and worked his way up. He treated her well. He took her to nice places. But periodically, he would pop over to her house in the brown truck and brown shorts UPS drivers wear. She'd make JAPy comments. 'I can't see myself dating a guy who wears brown shorts. It's embarrassing.'

"That was part of his training program. The guy is now a multimillionaire and the guys she goes out with are blowing her off. Guys she would have never dated ten years ago.

"LA is equally as vapid as New York but in different ways. Here you have this psuedo-intellectualism you don't have LA. Women in LA seem to prefer to date a guy who's a drug-dealer and drives a Lamborghini than a guy who went to an Ivy-League school who's pursuing a writing career and living in a small apartment. In LA, it's all about the flash.

"Stephanie Klein is one of the least liked people but has massaged the whole blogosphere to link to her. She doesn't feel any of the angst that she claims she feels. The kind of guys she's going to meet are guys who want to f--- her and get on her blog. She's get a skewed sample."

Luke: "What do you think of the show Sex in the City?"

Chris: "Mixed feelings. It's an infomercial for New York City and the brands displayed there. It is a postcard from New York City. I am sure that the show has led to increased tourism and interest in things that have a "New York" flavor. But it's a caricature of New York. You have a lot of vapid chicks in the city who are [attempting to create] creating this psuedo-Sex in the City lifestyle. 'I'm so Carrie.' 'I'm like a Charlotte.' Stephanie has tapped into that.

"Candace Bushnell (author of such books as Sex in the City) f---ed her way through the city and became famous for doing so. I have no genuine interest in her but she's a real writer. She created that brand (of the female sex columnist).

"Amy Sohn lived that life. She wrote the column 'Female Trouble.' It was real, not posed. Stephanie tries to come off as this artsy downtown chick but she's a JAP who lives on the Upper West Side. She grew up in suburban affluence. She had false delusional princess dreams of what marriage would be like. So she married a guy who was super-successful and super-wealthy and he got bored of her within a year and traded up.

"A lot of the angst that these women have is from naively going for the biggest meal-ticket they can get in New York City. They feel somehow screwed if it doesn't work out.

"Stephanie's become a millionaire from her blog (the advance she got from Regan Books)."

Luke: "What's the highest number of sex partners a woman could have and you could be interested in marrying her?"

Chris: "Indefinite.

"The women who are writing about this sexy life, their lives aren't so sexy. I'd rather marry a porn star than marry someone like Stephanie."

Luke: "What do you think of the dichotomy in perception of men and women who sleep around -- men are studs and women are sluts?"

Chris: "I think it's less true today. I don't think guys care. Joe Gallant (former musician turned porn director) gave me this great quote: '"The current NYC Sex Events are a lot like a Phish Concert. Part of the reason the new "Sexutantes are so VERY eager to be all' bitchin' in nicely-publicized clean upscale environs is due to the likes of $$ex & the City, writers like Amy Sohn (a nice Brooklyn girl who fabricates her jaded, men-can't-satisfy-me-though-they-try posturings), the lez-mafia machine at toys in babeland, etc. It says a lot about the safely iconic distancing of this era, when virtually every woman of a certain age and societal rank in this matrix-green radar-cooked shark tank we call contemporary culture desperately wants to be seen as a BAD GIRL-----14 year old girls wear "pornstar" rhinestone t-shirts in malls, Britney and ol' Madonna rehearse a corporate-edgy tongue kiss to lay on th' k-mart yokels in TV viewer-land, etc... The current crop of NYC party offerings provide a safe, non-threatening, non-consequential place to get their 5 minutes-of-nipple-lick wings, without fear of it hitting mom & dad's breakfast nook. This collective (entitled? as all louche "sex trend" adherents have been, throughout the ages, never comes from a stridency of spirit, rather from the well-nourished and oh so bored) and latest version of pussy power has its pulsating roots (of course) in media, a reactive (rather than innovative) construct that must prove itself on the very bleeding crest of all movements, seeming or real... What starts out as small like the Grego Loft thing (who is only continuing on a smaller scale the outrageous weekly parties of Neville Chesters (90's porn director) at his midtown loft for the last 10 years) must de facto get "Real Sex" coverage ANON, as field producers fall over themselves to track down that LATEST... "underground"... EDGY... odd, these scenes are never THREATENING.'"

Chris: "These chicks who write about the sexual life they lead are not really having sex. There's an artistic edginess to write about it. It's bulls---. You're either in the sex industry for real or you are an artistic poser.

"I'm more concerned about a girl who's not a slut but is using sex as a lever to extract something from me than a girl who says, 'I love you but I loved a lot of people before.'

"You become relevant as a writer when the publishing industry can figure out a way to make money off of you. She sells to a lot of people who have no idea what New York is about. Intellects don't take her seriously except as a product to sell to the heartland.

"I had a friend from an affluent family who I introduced to Heather "This Fish" Hunter. He said to me, 'I don't want to be in some chick's blog.' So he stopped dating this woman and he ended up in a blog entry. I wrote a negative comment on her blog, and she wrote back threatening to tell my employer that I had written a comment on her blog while I was at work."

All the instances I've heard about this sort of threat have involved women, such as Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt who tried to get a couple of people fired after they wrote her negative emails from their workplace.

"Women who write these blogs complaining about their problems meeting [quality] members of the opposite sex...are only going to meet men who want to be written about. So they only have themselves to blame for this self fulfilling prophecy (unless they are merely posing to obtain fodder for their blogs).

"Rachel Bussell Kramer is another [female sex columnist] whose sexuality seems contrived, or, at least embellished. A woman who dated Rachel told me that if she was half as exciting as what she wrote about, they'd still be dating. But she was this dead fish and lied about her provocative sexual experiences. Nevertheless, she is an interesting read.

"Guys are more interested in actually f---ing someone than writing about it."

Luke: "How did Amy Sohn's article, The Pick-Up Artist, affect your life?"

Chris: "It still does. There are women who want to meet you because of that. Then there are women who have the eww factor, 'Ohmigod, he's slept with all these people.' Then there are women who think that if you f----- all these people, you must be good at something, so they want to f--- you.

"It led to a lot of interesting things. It opened a lot of doors I wasn't trying to open.

"At first I was embarrassed. But at the end of the day, for a guy, any kind of press is good press. People are speaking about you and that you are controversial makes people think you are more exciting than you are.

"I'm not going to prejudge women who may have had a gangbang in college. I'm not going to date the pollyanna who's never had triple-penetration and then I get f---ed in divorce court and she's sucking the milkman's dick. I don't think chastity is indicative of character. Women who have taken the time to explore and understand their sexuality are ultimately better lovers and partners."

Chris says this sentence by Amy Sohn about him is not true: "Beneath all his warmth, he seems to have a bitter core, as though his years of playerly ways have made him lose respect for any woman who would have him."

Chris: "I was never really a player nor have I tried to be. I am just fascinated by people and perhaps that has led to some success in that regard."

His father comes from a line of Sephardic Jews who moved to South America and converted to Christianity. His mother is an Italian-German Gentile. "At Dachau, there were probably relatives on both sides of the aisle."

London says he's more spiritual than religious. "I was always much happier f---ing the same person, unlike a lot of guys who get sick of it. I am very much a creature of habit. If find something I like, I stick with it or at least try to. God knows I have been as pathetic as any needy woman and have myself tried to hold on a bit too long to relationships which were ill fated. I eat at a lot of the same restaurants. I'm not a guy who needs a lot of different women. It just happened that way."

Chris says he's been "basically monogamous" in his long-term relationships. "I'm as flawed as any man. There were times when I was in love and I rationalized that it didn't count if it was an escort or a happy-ending massage. It didn't count if she was away for three weeks. Would I go out and pick someone up in a bar and f--- them? No. Sometimes you do other things. You use professional services out there.

"I think everybody has [patronized a hooker]. Every man has seen professionals. I remember when I was up in the Hamptons and this woman, looking at the ads for escorts in the back of New York Magazine, said, 'Who sees these girls? These guys must be the biggest losers.' I said, 'Those girls cost a minimum of $500 an hour. Doesn't your boyfriend work at Goldman Sachs or a big law firm? That's who sees them. 'No way. My boyfriend is hot. He could get laid by anyone.' Just because a guy can get laid doesn't mean he won't pay for it. You either pay for it by the minute, the hour or the lifetime. There's always a cost to sex. Paid sex is one of the more honest transactions between men and women."

I emailed Stephanie Klein about Chris London and his blogs about her. She replied: "Chris London is entitled to his opinion. Despite everything, I really do wish him the best."

Chris London writes me 9/5/05: "Stephanie Klein who’s blog has been spoofed by Tale of Two Sisters has moved from Blogger to Typepad after getting a C&D from Ms. Klein alledging infringement of her copyright, who ironically it has since been discovered may be a plagiarist herself."