The Art of Attraction: James Norton wants to take guys on an epic journey of personal growth and picking up chicks

James Norton and Ernesto Gluecksmann teach men how to flirt with women in Washington.
By Ellen McCarthy
Sunday, February 13, 2011

The first time James Norton meets the three young men who've sought his guidance, he tells them that their journey will be a difficult one.

There will be traps and tests and failures. They will travel beyond their spheres of personal comfort and deep into the recesses of their psyches.

"You're gonna find some [messed-]up [stuff] about yourself, and you're gonna have to deal with it," he warns, tucking a pair of aviator sunglasses into the crook of his collared golf shirt.

But if they follow his instructions, the three will cease to be ordinary men. They will become, like Norton, masters in the art of picking up chicks.

It's the start of a four-week workshop in which the students will be taught to spike conversation with sexual tension. They'll learn to isolate women for make-out sessions and quickly builda sense of intimacy with their "targets."

Once they master his strategies, they'll be able to entice ladies to follow wherever they lead.

And Norton knows most of the men are preoccupied with leading women back to their bedrooms.

He can help with that, of course. But the 33-year-old, an accountant at a Georgetown law firm by day, swears that's really not the point. Whether they realize it or not, he says, what these guys are after is a human connection. His job is to show them how to find it.


Say the words "pickup artist" and every face within earshot wrinkles in disgust, picturing the slick lothario wearing too much cologne and scanning the room for his next conquest.

But Norton is more of an overgrown teddy bear. He's a former rugby player, 6-foot-1 and topping 200 pounds. A week's worth of facial hair masks a pair of round cheeks that balloon when he smiles. Sometimes his brown hair is gelled skyward, but otherwise he's a Washington Everyman, perpetually en route to happy hour in khaki pants and nice shoes.

Norton swears he was once like the men he teaches: intimidated by women and scared to make the first move. Now there's no one he won't approach. It's just a mind-set, he says -- one he has been studying for five years and has passed on to more than 50 guys through Professional Pickup, the coaching business he runs with Ernesto Gluecksmann, a 36-year-old technology consultant.

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