dimitri the lover

Dimitri the Lover Models the "Real Man"

Like any major urban centre, Toronto has its landmarks and attractions; things the visitors are encouraged to see. From opera to architecture we're used to seeing these objects of civic pride measured against other cities knickknacks in the never-ending competition for tourist bucks.

Then there are the activities you don't usually hear about, the ones you can't necessarily enjoy with the entire family. Some are praiseworthy (gay couples from the States coming up here to get married), others leave a distinctly bad taste in my mouth (swinger couples visiting Club Wicked; is that the best we can do?) and a few are really weird (Reg Hartt screenings; more about him later).

Somewhere in between the last two is Dimitri the Lover and his Toronto Real Men meetings. If you don't already know, he is the latest iteration in a long line of pick-up artists (PUA) offering up the secrets of seduction to hapless guys all over the country.

Now, I've read The Game, a book about "the seduction community" by Neil Strauss, a reporter, and I was left with the impression that the ring-leaders are a bunch of vaguely-gothic guys and wannabe-hypnotists, most of them lonely and consequently very controlling. Their websites are, for the most part, slick and well-produced. They seem to be trying really hard and are all about "the sell', whether it comes to hitting on women or flogging their products.

Jenny, a fellow writer at blogTO, had come across his website after finding a flyer he put up along College St. After browsing Dimitri's website, I found myself wondering if he could possibly be serious. Equal parts rambling personal philosophy and shameless self-promotion, its outrageous nature almost managed to overshadow a very comprehensive list of courses, ranging from a $197 Dating Needs Analysis to a personal, one-on-one couching session from Dimitri for $5,997. My favorite was the no expenses spared $97,500 "Cult Builder program" that promises to teach "POWERFUL techniques of psychological and sexual enslavement". Diabolical indeed...

While I wasn't quite expecting some kind of reboot of the Manson Family, I had no idea what to expect. Jenny and I were quite nervous about attending the March meeting of the Toronto Real Men's group. Would they sniff us out immediately or would they be sneaky and expose our agenda through the careful repetition of information-gathering questions?

Jenny: As Japhet and I plotted outside Massimo's about whether we should pretend we're total strangers or friends going into the seduction meeting, we both hushed up when we saw Mr. Lover himself appear at the doorway of Rancho Relaxo. Dressed in black jeans, campers and a black pinstripe sports jacket, he was unmistakable. It was sort of like seeing a celebrity that you only hear about in urban legend horror stories on Don'tdatehimgirl.com But there he was in the flesh, chatting on his cell phone.

Japhet: The intimidating part was how he was checking us out the whole time. I felt like I couldn't talk; he had the kind of gaze that zeros in you and makes you feel like he's hearing every single word you say.

Eventually, we introduced ourselves and it was like a switch turned on as he suddenly became the warm, welcoming host. He asked both of us three or four questions but never quite let us finish, preferring to draw his own conclusions in a way that kept us off-balance.

We'd agreed that we weren't going to lie unless absolutely necessary but I was definitely on my guard.

Jenny: Dimitri led Japhet and I upstairs to the bar where he introduced us to several other guys on the prowl. In total, there were 15 of them, ranging in age from their early-20s to mid-40s. I thought they could smell a rat a mile away and maybe some did - by the sheer sight of me - but Dimitri was very welcoming. I was officially the first (bisexual) girl there in the history of Toronto Real Men meetings.

Japhet: While we were being processed by Dimitri's right-hand man and trusty sidekick, he casually talked about keeping "faggots" out of the meeting, an unusual response considering that no gay man would ever try to pick up in an environment like this. Their language throughout the meeting on the topic of homosexuality was strangely stiff; I can't remember the last time I heard someone talk about "the gays".

Apparently, there were supposed to be feminist protesters but they didn't show up. Dimitri had been hoping for picketing and signs and joked that he was disappointed.

Like Jenny said, the 15 guys were mostly young, with two-thirds of them coming across as just socially-awkward with the others being total creeps. Besides his sidekick, there were four regulars who seemed to only show up to be yes-men for their fearless leader. Dimitri, for his part, managed to walk the line between getting the newcomers to open up and sharing jokes about them with his cronies. Jenny and I had little in common with these guys but we still passed, whether it was because Dimitri was all-too happy to have a bigger audience or he just didn't care.

Some of the shy ones came across as genuinely-nice guys who really had no idea how to talk to women and were looking for real help. Since I didn't talk with any of them personally, I can't say whether they actually took any of his advice to heart or not.

A couple of them couldn't get past the seemingly-insurmountable block of actually approaching women they wanted to talk to; a problem that Dimitri admitted he couldn't help them with seeing as his modus operandi mostly pertained to what they could do after the initial approach.

He did seem to have trouble relating to East and West Indian fellows, frequently telling them that a particular bit of advice he'd just given the group "wouldn't work for them", implying that their accent or cultural differences somehow precluded them from being able to employ it without comedic effect.

Jenny: "Those OCAD girls...go after the punky ones," he said. "They're all bi, by the way. You go up to them and say you're one of the most elegant women I've ever seen. Even if they're punked up, their fucking minds are blown because they're not used to being called elegant. They'll do almost anything after that. This girl C. - she wanted me to be her daddy - because she wants to be daddy's little cum-dumpster. C'mon, man, that's a big turn-on for a guy! I saw her walking on Bloor Street, she was smoking a joint, she was walking around. Little fucking slut. Great in bed."

I'm glad I prepared myself for this by watching Magnolia. Dimitri is without a doubt the Frank T.J. Mackey of T.O.

Japhet: Yeah, I've never met Ross Jeffries but he has some strong competition here. At one point Dimitri showed us the address book on his phone that was full of women he was involved with in various stages.

Jenny: Dimitri read off a list of "slut" conquests separated by numbers beside each name. If the name had a one, it meant he'd call them again for sex; two meant maybe and three signified a "dump list."

"After I make love to a woman, if she's worth keeping around and we become friends, I take the one out from in front of the number and she becomes part of the normal phone list," he said. "These ones have a number in front of them which means they're on the slut list at the top."

Japhet: I love how he got that text message from one of them during the meeting!

Jenny: It was from a woman he picked up at a North York mall.

"After I banged her, I wanted her to eat pussy, but she wouldn't go for it, man," he told the crowd matter-of-factly. "I drove up to Newmarket to get laid in a snowstorm because she was hot. It took 45 minutes to get up there, a half hour to warm her up, an hour to service her and a half hour so she didn't feel like she was used."

The guys laughed. I had this cringing smile on my face.

"Jenny, is this too much testosterone for you?" Dimitri laughed.

Testosterone, I can handle. Lack of respect towards women - less so.

Japhet: It got even better when he was enumerating on the all of the great places to pick up women and he asked us what big event was happening in the city this week.

Jenny: That guy in the audience made a joke about, "Two-for-one special at the abortion clinic?"

Japhet: He was definitely one of the heavy-duty creeps. Who says shit like that and thinks its funny? Worse yet, how come every guy in there laughed? Dmitri talked about being a gentleman but then why wouldn't he admonish the guy for going too far?

Jenny: Some of Dimitri's advice seemed to make sense - chocolates, cockiness mixed with humor will catch a woman's attention, giving compliments, etc. - but the way he delivered it bordered on Paul Bernardo predatory.

Japhet: That's funny considering how he said that women in the 416 area code think men are all Paul Bernardo until proven otherwise. He did give off a bit of that vibe though... Let's see, there was:

Lack of Empathy (" A straight woman loves it when a straight guy treats her like a whore.")

Inability to Form Close Relationships ("I don't have friends.")

Inflated Self-Appraisal ("I can get away with that kind of thing.")

Superficial Charm ("You're one of the most elegant women I've ever seen.")

And that's just off the top of my head! He was really good at interrogating people though. When I was recounting a story, he kept on interrupting me, asking specific questions that prevented me from the shaping the flow of my narrative and allowed him to give his own conclusions precedence over mine.

I've never been questioned like that before but I will admit that some of what he said was genuinely good advice. Mind you, we're talking the kind of thing you could pick up in a $4 magazine but it wasn't all cheesy pick-up lines and sexed-up job descriptions.

Yeah, he's probably right that you'll have a better chance picking up at a grocery store than a club. He's also right about white socks and black pants as well but do we really need to pay someone to hear this?

My problem with a lot of what he said lies in the essentially contradictory nature of many of his asides and jokes when stacked up next to his "good intentions" and, of course, that website of his; the elephant in the room. Dimitri can claim that it's merely to get attention but that's a seriously immature and offensive approach to a fundamental problem some men have in relating to women. I find it very difficult to reconcile this impulsive misogynist with his earnest performance of an open, fun-loving pervert.

Jenny: A few days later, I E-mail him asking if he could provide his real name and he figured out with his 170 IQ that I was writing an article.

"I have no issues with cooperating in the writing of an article in that the Toronto Real Men have nothing to hide," he wrote.

"For the personal safety of women I seduced and mentioned at the meeting, please do not go into specifics that could identify them. It is not for me, but I would feel awful if one of your perv readers stalked any of them."

Puh-lease. It certainly has nothing to do with any of the women who are now on his "slut list" finding out in a public forum. Right? Sure. After all, one piece of advice Dimitri the Lover gives to his male worshippers is to never lie for the sake of getting laid.

Japhet: In the section amusingly titled Observations on Life, Dimitri talks about how it's "acceptable for a man to cheat sexually on a woman if she is cheating emotionally on him". How is this honest? How does this even begin to fall in line with any kind of relational framework around polyamory?

In conversations with friends about Dimitri, I heard all sorts of stories. The posters he'd put up also went side-by-side with an online campaign conducted on Livejournal and Lavalife back in 2005. Using exactly the same wording on his posters, these posts had the added attraction of an immediate response from outraged viewers. While I was unable to find much of any information still being archived, one can only imagine the gist of the exchange which probably involved a lot of name-calling.

One of my favorite stories came from a friend of mine who was approached by Dimitri on Bloor St. West. Before being told what he said to her, I was able to recite it back to her!

Jenny: Perhaps the Dan Savage 'campsite rule' can be applied here -- to leave the person you slept with in better condition than which you found her.

"I told my ex I wouldn't give her anal till I proposed," he told the guys. "You cannot believe how romantic she thought that was, that I wouldn't fuck her up the ass until I proposed. I wanted to save it. You might think that's fucking sick. She thought it was perverse, but romantic."

By the sounds of this Greek lover, that's as romantic as it gets. What more could a woman ask for?

Japhet: Dimitri also claimed that Reg Hartt, of Cineforum fame, had really liked his posters and helped put them up. After hearing stories of Mr. Hartt's eerily similar cult-of-personality, complete with impressionable film students living in his house/commune, I can believe it. Who else is going to openly support this kind of thing? I'm surprised Rancho Relaxo isn't having second thoughts.

However, unlike many of Dimitri's more strident opponents, I don't believe he'll have any lasting impact on Toronto or be part of some kind of backwards progression in the psychology of men. He's simply too "out there" to reel in the casual consumer and his antagonistic, low-budget advertising reeks of desperation.

While he may play the alpha wolf in person, there are far too many warning signs for the average guy looking for a confidence boost. I would hazard a guess that many first-time attendees are scared off while the hardcore crowd sticks around in order to have a forum to regurgitate their hateful speech.

So while I encourage anyone sufficiently outraged by Dimitri and his "real men" to let them know exactly how you feel, this kind of thing, like the KKK and Scientology, has no future.

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