When raised to the level of art, seduction, an indirect and subtle form of power, has toppled empires, won elections and enslaved great minds. Immerse yourself in the twenty-four maneuvers and strategies of the seductive process, the ritual by which a seducer gains mastery over his target. Understand how to "Poeticize Your Presence," “Keep them in Suspense – What Comes Next” and “Master the Art of the Bold Move”. Every bit as essential as The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction is an indispensable primer of persuasion that reveals one of history's greatest weapons and the ultimate form of power.
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About the Author
Joost Elffers is the packaging genius behind Viking Studio's Secret Language series, Play with Your Food, and How Are You Peeling? He lives in New York City.
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Keys to the Character
At first it may seem strange that a man who is clearly dishonest, disloyal, and has no interest in marriage would have any appeal to a woman. But throughout all of history, and in all cultures, this type has had a fatal effect. What the Rake offers is what society normally does not allow women: an affair of pure pleasure, an exciting brush with danger. A woman is often deeply oppressed by the role she is expected to play. She is supposed to be the tender, civilizing force in society, and to want commitment and lifelong loyalty. But often her marriages and relationships give her not romance and devotion but routine and an endlessly distracted mate. It remains an abiding female fantasy to meet a man who gives totally of himself, who lives for her, even if only for a while.
This dark, repressed side of female desire found expression in the legend of Don Juan. At first the legend was a male fantasy: the adventurous knight who could have any woman he wanted. But in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Don Juan slowly evolved from the masculine adventurer to a more feminized version: a man who lived only for women. This evolution came from women’s interest in the story, and was a result of their frustrated desires. Marriage for them was a form of indentured servitude; but Don Juan offered pleasure for its own sake, desire with no strings attached. For the time he crossed your path, you were all he thought about. His desire for you was so powerful that he gave you no time to think or to worry about the consequences. He would come in the night, give you an unforgettable moment, and then vanish. He might have conquered a thousand women before you, but that only made him more interesting; better to be abandoned than undesired by such a man.
The great seducers do not offer the mild pleasures that society condones. They touch a person’s unconscious, those repressed desires that cry out for liberation. Do not imagine that women are the tender creatures that some people would like them to be. Like men, they are deeply attracted to the forbidden, the dangerous, even the slightly evil. (Don Juan ends by going to hell, and the word “rake” comes from “rakehell,” a man who rakes the coals of hell; the devilish component, clearly, is an important part of the fantasy) Always remember: if you are to play the Rake, you must convey a sense of risk and darkness, suggesting to your victim that she is participating in something rare and thrilling—a chance to play out her own rakish desires.
To play the Rake, the most obvious requirement is the ability to let yourself go, to draw a woman into the kind of purely sensual moment in which past and future lose meaning. You must be able to abandon yourself to the moment. (When the Rake Valmont—a character modeled after the Duke de Richelieu—in Laclos’ eighteenth-century novel Dangerous Liaisons writes letters that are obviously calculated to have a certain effect on his chosen victim, Madame de Tourvel, she sees right through them; but when his letters really do burn with passion, she begins to relent.) An added benefit of this quality is that it makes you seem unable to control yourself, a display of weakness that a woman enjoys. By abandoning yourself to the seduced, you make them feel that you exist for them alone—a feeling reflecting a truth, though a temporary one. Of the hundreds of women that Pablo Picasso, consummate rake, seduced over the years, most of them had the feeling that they were the only one he truly loved.
The Rake never worries about a woman’s resistance to him, or for that matter about any other obstacle in his path—a husband, a physical barrier. Resistance is only the spur to his desire, enflaming him all the more. When Picasso was seducing Françoise Gilot, in fact, he begged her to resist; he needed resistance to add to the thrill. In any case, an obstacle in your way gives you the opportunity to prove yourself, and the creativity you bring to matters of love. In the eleventh-century Japanese novel The Tale of Genji,by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu, the Rake Prince Niou is not disturbed by the sudden disappearance of Ukifune, the woman he loves. She has fled because although she is interested in the prince, she is in love with another man; but her absence allows the prince to go to extreme lengths to track her down. His sudden appearance to whisk her away to a house deep in the woods, and the gallantry he displays in doing so, overwhelm her. Remember : if no resistances or obstacles face you, you must create them. No seduction can proceed without them.
The Rake is an extreme personality. Impudent, sarcastic, and bitingly witty, he cares nothing for what anyone thinks. Paradoxically, this only makes him more seductive. In the courtlike atmosphere of studio-era Hollywood, when most of the actors behaved like dutiful sheep, the great Rake Errol Flynn stood out in his insolence. He defied the studio chiefs, engaged in the most extreme pranks, reveled in his reputation as Hollywood’s supreme seducer—all of which enhanced his popularity. The Rake needs a backdrop of convention—a stultified court, a humdrum marriage, a conservative culture—to shine, to be appreciated for the breath of fresh air he provides. Never worry about going too far: the Rake’s essence is that he goes further than anyone else.
When the Earl of Rochester, seventeenth-century England’s most notorious Rake and poet, abducted Elizabeth Malet, one of the most sought-after young ladies of the court, he was duly punished. But lo and behold, a few years later young Elizabeth, though wooed by the most eligible bachelors in the country, chose Rochester to be her husband. In demonstrating his audacious desire, he made himself stand out from the crowd.
Related to the Rake’s extremism is the sense of danger, taboo, perhaps even the hint of cruelty about him. This was the appeal of another poet Rake, one of the greatest in history: Lord Byron. Byron disliked any kind of convention, and happily played this up. When he had an affair with his half sister, who bore a child by him, he made sure that all of England knew about it. He could be uncommonly cruel, as he was to his wife. But all of this only made him that much more desirable. Danger and taboo appeal to a repressed side in women, who are supposed to represent a civilizing, moralizing force in culture. Just as a man may fall victim to the Siren through his desire to be free of his sense of masculine responsibility, a woman may succumb to the Rake through her yearning to be free of the constraints of virtue and decency. Indeed it is often the most virtuous woman who falls most deeply in love with the Rake.
Among the Rake’s most seductive qualities is his ability to make women want to reform him. How many thought they would be the one to tame Lord Byron; how many of Picasso’s women thought they would finally be the one with whom he would spend the rest of his life. You must exploit this tendency to the fullest. When caught red-handed in rakishness, fall back on your weakness—your desire to change, and your inability to do so. With so many women at your feet, what can you do? You are the one who is the victim. You need help. Women will jump at this opportunity; they are uncommonly indulgent of the Rake, for he is such a pleasant, dashing figure. The desire to reform him disguises the true nature of their desire, the secret thrill they get from him. When President Bill Clinton was clearly caught out as a Rake, it was women who rushed to his defense, finding every possible excuse for him. The fact that the Rake is so devoted to women, in his own strange way, makes him lovable and seductive to them.
Finally, a Rake’s greatest asset is his reputation. Never downplay your bad name, or seem to apologize for it. Instead, embrace it, enhance it. It is what draws women to you. There are several things you must be known for: your irresistible attractiveness to women; your uncontrollable devotion to pleasure (this will make you seem weak, but also exciting to be around); your disdain for convention; a rebellious streak that makes you seem dangerous. This last element can be slightly hidden; on the surface, be polite and civil, while letting it be known that behind the scenes you are incorrigible. Duke de Richelieu made his conquests as public as possible, exciting other women’s competitive desire to join the club of the seduced. It was by reputation that Lord Byron attracted his willing victims. A woman may feel ambivalent about President Clinton’s reputation, but beneath that ambivalence is an underlying interest. Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.
The Rake burns with a desire that enflames the woman he is seducing. It is extreme, uncontrollable, and dangerous. The Rake may end in hell, but the flames surrounding him often make him seem that much more desirable to women.
Like the Siren, the Rake faces the most danger from members of his own sex, who are far less indulgent than women are of his constant skirt chasing. In the old days, a Rake was often an aristocrat, and no matter how many people he offended or even killed, in the end he would go unpunished. Today, only stars and the very wealthy can play the Rake with impunity; the rest of us need to be careful.
Elvis Presley had been a shy young man. Attaining early stardom, and seeing the power it gave him over women, he went berserk, becoming a Rake almost overnight. Like many Rakes, Elvis had a predilection for women who were already taken. He found himself cornered by an angry husband or boyfriend on numerous occasions, and came away with a few cuts and bruises. This might seem to suggest that you should step lightly around husbands and boyfriends, especially early on in your career. But the charm of the Rake is that such dangers don’t matter to them. You cannot be a Rake by being fearful and prudent; the occasional pummeling is part of the game. Later on, in any case, at the height of Elvis’s fame, no husband would dare touch him.
The greater danger for the Rake comes not from the violently offended husband but from those insecure men who feel threatened by the Don Juan figure. Although they will not admit it, they envy the Rake’s life of pleasure, and like everyone envious, they will attack in hidden ways, often masking their persecutions as morality. The Rake may find his career endangered by such men (or by the occasional woman who is equally insecure, and who feels hurt because the Rake does not want her). There is little the Rake can do to avoid envy; if everyone was as successful in seduction, society would not function.
So accept envy as a badge of honor. Don’t be naive, be aware. When attacked by a moralist persecutor, do not be taken in by their crusade; it is motivated by envy, pure and simple. You can blunt it by being less of a Rake, asking forgiveness, claiming to have reformed, but this will damage your reputation, making you seem less lovably rakish. In the end, it is better to suffer attacks with dignity and keep on seducing. Seduction is the source of your power; and you can always count on the infinite indulgence of women.
the Ideal lover
Most people have dreams in their youth that get shattered or worn down with age. They find themselves disappointed by people, events, reality, which cannot match their youthful ideals. Ideal Lovers thrive on people’s broken dreams, which become lifelong fantasies. You long for romance? Adventure? Lofty spiritual communion? The Ideal Lover reflects your fantasy. He or she is an artist in creating the illusion you require, idealizing your portrait. In a world of disenchantment and baseness, there is limitless seductive power in following the path of the Ideal Lover.
The Romantic Ideal
One evening around 1760, at the opera in the city of Cologne, a beautiful young woman sat in her box, watching the audience. Beside her was her husband, the town burgomaster—a middle-aged man and amiable enough, but dull. Through her opera glasses the young woman noticed a handsome man wearing a stunning outfit. Evidently her stare was noticed, for after the opera the man introduced himself: his name was Giovanni Giacomo Casanova.
Table of ContentsThe Art of SeductionAcknowledgments
Part One: The Seductive Character
A man is often secretly oppressed by the role he has to play - by always having to be responsible, in control, and rational. The Siren is the ultimate male fantasy figure because she offers a total release from the limitations of his life. In her presence, which is always heightened and sexually charged, the male feels transported to a realm of pure pleasure. In a world where women are often too timid to project such an image, learn to take control of the male libido by embodying his fantasy.
A woman never quite feels desired and appreciated enough. She wants attention, but a man is too often distracted and unresponsive. The Rake is a great female fantasy-figure - when he desires a woman, brief though that moment may be, he will go to the ends of the earth for her. He may be disloyal, dishonest, and amoral, but that only adds to his appeal. Stir a woman's repressed longing by adapting the Rake's mix of danger and pleasure.
The Ideal Lover
Most people have dreams in their youth that get shattered or worn down with age. They find themselves disappointed by people, events, reality, which cannot match their youthful ideals. Ideal Lovers thrive on people's broken dreams, which become lifelong fantasies. You long for romance? Adventure? Lofty spiritual communioin? The Ideal Lover reflects your fantasy. He or she is an artist in creating the illusion you require. In a world of disenchantment and baseness, there is limitless seductive power in following the path of the Ideal Lover.
Most of us feel trapped within the limited role that the world expects us to play. We are instantly attracted to those who are more fluid than we are - those who create their own persona. Dandies excite us because they cannot be categorized, and hint at a freedom we want for ourselves. They play with masculinity and femininity; they fashion their own physical image, which is always startling. Use the power of the Dandy to create an ambiguous, alluring presence that stirs repressed desires.
Childhood is the golden paradise we are always consciously or unconsciously trying to re-create. The Natural embodies the longed-for qualities of childhood - spontaneity, sincerity, unpretentiousness. In the presence of Naturals, we feel at ease, caught up in their playful spirit, transported back to that golden age. Adopt the pose of the Natural to neutralize people's defensivenss and infect them with helpless delight.
The ability to delay satisfaction is the ultimate art of seducction - while waiting, the victim is held in thrall. Coquettes are the grand masters of the game, orchestrating a back-and-forth movement between hope and frustration. They bait with the promise of reward - the hope of physical pleasure, happiness, fame by association, power - all of which, however, proves elusive; yet this only makes their targets pursue them the more. Imitate the alternating heat and coolness of the Coquette and you will keep the seduced at your heels.
Charm is seduction without sex. Charmers are consummate manipulators, masking their cleverness by creating a mood of pleasure and comfort. Their method is simple: They deflect attention from themselves and focus it on their target. They understand your spirit, feel your pain, adapt to your moods. In the presence of a Charmer you feel better about yourself. Learn to cast the Charmer's spell by aiming at people's primary weaknesses: vanity and self-esteem.
Charisma is a presence that excites us. It comes from an inner quality - self-confidence, sexual energy, sense of purpose, contentment - that most people lack and want. This quality radiates outward, permeating the gestures of Charismatics, making them seem extraordinary and superior. They learn to heighten their charisma with a piercing gaze, fiery oratory, an air of mystery. Create the charismatic illusion by radiating intensity while remaining detached.
Daily life is harsh, and most of us constantly seek escape from it in fantasies and dreams. Stars feed on this weakness; standing out from others through a distinctive and appealing style, they make us want to watch them. At the same time, they are vague and ethereal, keeping their distance, and letting us imagine more than is there. Their dreamlike quality works on our unconscious. Learn to become an object of fascination by projecting the glittering but elusive presence of the Star.
Seducers draw you in by the focused, individualized attention they pay to you. Anti-seducers are the opposite: insecure, self-absorbed, and unable to grasp the psychology of another person, they literally repel. Anti-Seducers have no self-awareness, and never realize when they are pestering, imposing, talking too much. Root out anti-seductive qualities in yourself, and recognize them in others - there is no pleasure or profit in dealing with the Anti-Seducer.
The Seducer's Victims - The Eighteen Types
Part Two: The Seductive Process
PHASE ONE: SEPARATION - STIRRING INTEREST AND DESIRE
1. Choose the Right Victim
Everything depends on the target of your seduction. Study your prey throughly, and choose only those who will prove susceptible to your charms. The right victims are those for whom you can fill a void, who see in you something exotic. They are often isolated or unhappy, or can easily be made so - for the completely contented person is almost impossible to seduce. The perfect victim has some quality that inspires strong emotions in you, making your seductive manuevers seem more natural and dynamic. The perfect victim allows for the perfect chase.
2. Create a False Sense of Security - Approach Indirectly
If you are too direct early on, you risk stirring up a resistance that will never be lowered. At first there must be nothing of the seducer in your manner. The seduction should begin at an angle, indirectly, so that the target only gradually becomes aware of you. Haunt the periphery of your target's life - approach through a third party, or seem to cultivate a relatively neutral relationship, moving gradually from friend to lover. Lull the target into feeling secure, then strike.
3. Send Mixed Signals
Once people are aware of your presence, and perhaps vaguely intrigued, you need to stir their interest before it settles on someone else. Most of us are much too obvious - instead, be hard to figure out. Send mixed signals: both tough and tender, both spiritual and earthly, both innocent and cunning. A mix of qualities suggests depth, which fascinates even as it confuses. An elusive, enigmatic aura will make people want to know more, drawing them into your circle. Create such a power by hinting at something contraditory within you.
4. Appear to Be an Object of Desire - Create Triangles
Few are drawn to the person whom others avoid or neglect; people gather around those who have already attracted interest. To draw your victims closer and make them hungry to possess you, you must create an aura of desirability - of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for them to be the preferred object of your attention, to win you away from a crowd of admirers. Build a reputation that precedes you: If many have succumbed to your charms, there must be a reason.
5. Create a Need - Stir Anxiety and Discontent
A perfectly satisfied person cannot be seduced. Tension and disharmony must be instilled in your targets' minds. Stir within them feelings of discontent, an unhappiness with their circumstances and with themselves. The feelings of inadequacy that you create will give you space to insinuate yourself, to make them see you as the answer to their problems. Pain and anxiety are the proper precursors to pleasure. Learn to manufacture the need that you can fill.
6. Master the Art of Insinuation
Making your targets feel dissatisfied and in need of your attention is essential, but if you are too obvious, they will see through you and grow defensive. There is no known defense, however, against insinuation - the art of planting ideas in people's minds by dropping elusive hints that take root days later, even appearing to them as their own idea. Create a sublanguage - bold statements followed by retraction and apology, ambiguous comments, banal talk combined with alluring glances - that enters the target's unconscious to convey your real meaning. Make everything suggestive.
7. Enter Their Spirit
Most people are locked in their own worlds, making them stubborn and hard to persuade. The way to lure them out of their shell and set up your seduction is to enter their spirit. Play by their rules, enjoy what they enjoy, adapt yourself to their moods. In doing so you will stroke their deep-rooted narcissism and lower their defenses. Indulge your targets' every mood and whim, giving them nothing to react against or resist.8. Create Temptation
Lure the target deep into your seduction by creating the proper temptation: a glimpse of the pleasures to come. As the serpent tempted Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge, you must awaken a desire in your targets that they cannot control. Find that weakness of theirs, that fantasy that has yet to be realized, and hint that you can lead them toward it. The key is to keep it vague. Stimulate a curiosity stronger than the doubts and anxieties that go with it, and they will follow you.PHASE TWO: LEAD ASTRAY - CREATING PLEASURE AND CONFUSION
9. Keep Them in Suspense - What Comes Next?
The moment people feel they know what to expect from you, your spell on them is broken. More: You have ceded them power. The only way to lead the seduced along and keep the upper hand is to create suspense, a calculated surprise. Doing something they do not expect from you will give them a delightful sense of spontaneity - they will not be able to foresee what comes next. You are always one step ahead and in control. Give the victim a thrill with a sudden change of direction.10. Use the Demonic Power of Words to Sow Confusion
It is hard to make people listen; they are consumed with their own thoughts and desires, and have little time for yours. The trick to making them listen is to say what they want to hear, to fill their ears with whatever is pleasant to them. This is the essence of seductive language. Inflame people's emotions with loaded phrses, flatter them, comfort their insecurities, envelop them in sweet words and promises, and not only will they listen to you, they will lose their will to resist you.11. Pay Attention to Detail
Lofty words of love and grand gestures can be suspicious: Why are you trying so hard to please? The details of a seduction - the subtle gestures, the offhand things you do - are often more charming and revealing. You must learn to distract your victims with a myriad of pleasant little rituals - thoughtful gifts tailored just for them, clothes and adornments designed to please them, gestures that show the time and attention you are paying them. Mesmerized by what they see, they will not notice what you are really up to.12. Poeticize Your Presence
Important things happen when your targets are alone: The slightest feeling of relief that you are not there, and it is all over. Familiarity and overexposure will cause this reaction. Remain elusive, then. Intrigue your targets by alternating an exciting presence with a cool distance, exuberant moments followed by calculated absences. Associate yourself with poetic images and objects, so that when they think of you, they begin to see you through an idealized halo. The more you figure in their minds, the more they will envelop you in seductive fantasies.13. Disarm Through Strategic Weakness and Vulnerability
Too much manuevering on your part may raise suspicion. The best way to cover your tracks is to make the other person feel superior and stronger. If you seem to be weak, vulnerable, enthralled by the other person, and unable to control yourself, you will make your actions look more natural, less calculated. Physical weakness - tears, bashfulness, paleness - will help create the effect. Play the victim, then transform your target's sympathy into love.14. Confuse Desire and Reality - The Perfect Illusion
To compensate for the difficulties in their lives, people spend a lot of their time daydreaming, imagining a future full of adventure, success, and romance. If you can create the illusion that through you they can live out their dreams, you will have them at your mercy. Aim at secret wishes that have been thwarted or repressed, stirring up uncontrollable emotions, clouding their powers of reason. Lead the seduced to a point of confusion in which they can no longer tell the difference between illusion and reality.15. Isolate the Victim
An isolated person is weak. By slowly isolating your victims, you make them more vulnerable to your influence. Take them away from their normal milieu, friends, family, home. Give them the sense of being marginalized, in limbo - they are leaving one world behind and entering another. Once isolated like this, they have no outside support, and in their confusion they are easily led astray. Lure the seduced into your lair, where nothing is familiar.PHASE THREE: THE PRECIPICE - DEEPENING THE EFFECT THROUGH EXTREME MEASURES
16. Prove Yourself
Most people want to be seduced. If they resist your efforts, it is probably because you have not gone far enough to allay their doubts - about your motives, the depth of your feelings, and so on. One well-timed action that shows how far you are willing to go to win them over will dispel their doubts. Do not worry about looking foolish or making a mistake - any kind of deed that is self-sacrificing and for your targets' sake will so overwhelm their emotions, they won't notice anything else.17. Effect a Regression
People who have experienced a certain kind of pleasure in the past will try to repeat or relive it. The deepest-rooted and most pleasurable memories are usually those from earliest childhood, and are often unconsciously associated with a parental figure. Bring your targets back to that point by placing yourself in the oedipal triangle and positioning them as the needy child. Unaware of the cause of their emotional response, they will fall in love with you.18. Stir Up the Transgressive and Taboo
There are alway social limits on what one can do. Some of these, the most elemental taboos, go back centuries; others are more superficial, simply defining polite and acceptable behavior. Making your targets feel that you are leading them past either kind of limit is immensely seductive. People yearn to explore their dark side. Once the desire to transgress draws your targets to you, it will be hard for them to stop. Take them farther than they imagined - the shared feeling of guilt and complicity will create a powerful bond.19. Use Spiritual Lures
Everyone has doubts and insecurities - about their body, their self-worth, their sexuality. If your seduction appeals exclusively to the physical, you will stir up these doubts and make your targets self-conscious. Instead, lure them out of their insecurities by making them focus on something sublime and spiritual: a religious experience, a lofty work of art, the occult. Lost in a spiritual mist, the target will feel light and uninhibited. Deepen the effect of your seduction by making its sexual culmination seem like the spiritual union of two souls.20. Mix Pleasure with Pain
The greatest mistake in seduction is being too nice. At first, perhaps, your kindness is charming, but it soon grows monotonous; you are trying too hard to please, and seem insecure. Instead of overwhelming your targets with niceness, try inflicting some pain. Make them feel guilty and insecure. Instigate a breakup - now a rapprochement, a return to your earlier kindness, will turn them weak at the knees. The lower the lows you create, the greater the highs. To heighten the erotic charge, create the excitement of fear.PHASE FOUR: MOVING IN FOR THE KILL
21. Give Them Space to Fall - The Pursuer Is Pursued
If your targets become too used to you as the aggressor, they will give less of their own energy, and the tension will slacken. You need to wake them up, turn the tables. Once they are under your spell, take a step back and they will start to come after you. Hint that you are growing bored. Seem interested in someone else. Soon they will want to possess you physically, and restraint will go out the window. Create the illusion that the seducer is being seduced.22. Use Physical Lures
Targets with active minds are dangerous: If they see through your manipulations, they may suddenly develop doubts. Put their minds gently to rest, and waken their dormant senses, by combining a nondefensive attitude with a charged sexual presence. While your cool, nonchalant air is lowering their inhibitions, your glances, voice, and bearing - oozing sex and desire - are getting under their skin and raising their temperature. Never force the physical; instead inflect your targets with heat, lure them into lust. Morality, judgment, and concern for the future will all melt away.23. Master the Art of the Bold Move
A moment has arrived: Your victim clearly desires you, but is not ready to admit it openly, let alone act on it. This is the time to throw aside chivalry, kindness and coquetry and to overwhelm with a bold move. Don't give the victim time to consider the consequences. Showing hesitation or awkwardness means you are thinking of yourself, as opposed to being overwhelmed by the victim's charms. One person must go on the offensive, and it is you.24. Beware the Aftereffects
Danger follows in the aftermath of a successful seduction. After emotions have reached a pitch, they often swing in the opposite direction - toward lassitude, distrust, disappointment. If you are to part, make the sacrifice swift and sudden. If you are to stay in a relationship, beware a flagging of energy, a creeping familiarity that will spoil the fantasy. A second seduction is required. Never let the other person take you for granted - use absence, create pain and conflict, to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.
Appendix A: Seductive Environment/Seductive Time
Appendix B: Soft Seduction: How to Sell Anything to the Masses