Rome, ITALY -- At first glance, Dr. Seduction seems anything but your stereotypical, suave Italian lover.
He has bags under his eyes. His beard is flecked with gray. His hairline is retreating faster than communism.
"We joke about the name, but I am proud of it," says Giuseppe Cirillo, a psychologist and sexologist. "For me, seduction has many meanings. Seducing is not always conquering the other person."
Cirillo is founder and chief instructor of the New School on the Art of Seduction and Courtship, which operates out of a tiny basement office in Rome.
Instructions on the art of seduction would seem to be the last thing anyone would need in Italy, a land with a worldwide reputation for great lovers.
But Cirillo says more than 450 men and women ages 18 to 63 have come to him since the school opened two years ago. Each was willing to pay $500 for 15 hours of instruction.
Although he could easily accommodate all applicants, Cirillo says, he accepts only 1 of every 10 because he wants to be certain he gets people he can help.
"You know, Italy is a country of Latin lovers," he says. "But Italians are afraid to show their vulnerability.
"I like people to come to my school who want to work on their method of approaching other people. When they don't want to work to discover more about what's inside of them -- when they are afraid to be vulnerable -- I don't want to work with them."
Cirillo's specialty is "the approach" -- the moment when a woman and a man meet. He gives 14 lessons on subjects ranging from facial expressions and eye contact to posture and tone of voice as a means of helping create the right approach.
The aggressive approach leaves Cirillo cold, he says, because it doesn't "give the other person the possibility to think about what is happening. The macho approach is definitely the worst."
Eighty percent of Cirillo's students are men, but he says women want to learn how to read a man's intentions, to know who is making a sincere approach and who is just coming on.
Despite its name, Cirillo insists the school is more than a seminar in how to pick up paramours -- although he admits more than a few of his students see it that way.
"Some businessmen tell me that they want to take the course for business, to improve their relations with clients," he says. "Then I discover that they really want to approach their secretary or some other secretary in the office. ... I'm not surprised."
One of Cirillo's students, a 43-year-old salesman who would only give his first name, Roberto, said he signed up for the course partly out of curiosity and partly to improve his business skills.
"I was a little suspicious at first, but the prospect of improving my sales technique was important for my work," he said. "I'm glad I did it.
"My life hasn't changed, but I've learned a lot about personalizing conversations and keeping everything in perfect harmony."
Cirillo took his course to the United States last year and plans to return this year. He will be giving crash weekend seminars at hotels in Florida and California for $1,200.
"Americans are really different," he says. "They like to joke during the lessons. They are more comfortable."
Cirillo finishes his course with a practical examination. First his assistants work with students in role simulations. Then they all go out to a disco, bar or cafe.
"We went out once with a young girl and I told her to approach this man on the street," Cirillo says. "She did and pretty soon they went inside to a cafe and started talking.
"She left the whole class sitting out in the street for 45 minutes and when she came out she said she was quitting. She said she didn't need the school anymore."