Pittsburgh Shooter George Sodini and his "Dating Young Women" Guru: R. Don Steele
A shock of recognition went down my spine as I watched Pittsburgh gym shooter George Sodini giving a video tour of his house.
Now that Sodini has killed three women and himself in Tuesday's horrific shooting, we're all ghoulishly picking over his Internet corpse. The man's diary, for example, revealed that he felt emotionally crippled by his domineering mother and bullying older brother, and blamed them for his inability to have relationships with women.
Today, we get the video tour of his house (above), which, judging from the way he narrated it, was made for fellow loners to get some feedback from them about his bachelor pad and whether a woman would find it acceptable.
About halfway into the video, Sodini pans down with his camera to catch a brief glimpse of the material on his coffee table, and that's when the hairs on the back of my neck stood up: one of the books he shows is none other than How to Date Young Women: For Men Over 35 by R. Don Steele.
Hate to admit it, but I know that book very well.
Nine years ago in Los Angeles, I learned that two of the most well-known guys who charge other guys for lessons on how to seduce women were actually suing each other.
R. Don Steele, who makes a living convincing middle-aged guys that he can teach them how to snag 20-year-old girlfriends, was being sued by Ross Jeffries, a man who claimed to have invented "Speed Seduction," a method to hypnotize women using subliminal language. (One of Jeffries' students was Neil Strauss, who went on to feature Jeffries techniques in The Game.)
The two dating gurus had engaged in a vicious on-line war for several years, and now Jeffries was suing Steele for breaking into his private website forums. Steele, meanwhile, was challenging Jeffries to prove in court that his hypnosis technique wasn't pure garbage.
I spent several weeks with each of them, learning about their advice for other men. It wasn't pretty. Each was ridiculous. But it was also clear that both men were actually peddling the same thing: helping unconfident men grow a little backbone.
Anyway, it's clear that Sodini was an enthusiastic fan of Steele. Not only was his book on Sodini's coffee table, but here's a video [looks like Steele just took it down!] of Steele teaching his students how to talk to women, and if you look carefully, right at the beginning and later on, you can clearly see Sodini in attendance. He's the only one not wearing a suit jacket.
What would Sodini have learned from Steele? Basically, R. Don's message boils down to this: women hate nice guys. Be a brash, confident, son of a bitch, and target your approaches at young waitresses. Don always preferred them in the 19-21 range.
That 2000 story about Steele and Jeffries is no longer on-line, so I'll post it here, for those who want a more detailed understanding of what Steele was teaching Sodini.
Ross Jeffries and R. Don Steele both claim they're the king of teaching men how to get laid. And now they're going to court to prove it.
By Tony Ortega
[First published in New Times Los Angeles, January 6, 2000]
R. Don Steele's e-mail to New Times was a plaintive cry for help. He needed a lawyer, and fast.
He wrote that he had exposed a fraud that deserved exposing, but doing so had put him in serious legal and financial peril. The charlatan he'd outed was named Ross Jeffries, a former paralegal who claimed to teach men how, using hypnosis disguised as innocent banter, to talk women into bed. In pricey taped lectures and live seminars, Jeffries, who calls his system Speed Seduction, teaches lonely men how to pepper their speech with suggestive double entendres like "below me" (pronounced "blow me") and claims that doing so will convince the women of their dreams to beg for hot sex in 30 minutes or less.
Steele had trashed Jeffries on the Internet, impugning Speed Seduction, ridiculing Jeffries' numerous fans, and calling Jeffries a dishonest, toupee-wearing, girlfriendless loser.
Jeffries filed suit in April, claiming that Steele's attacks were not only untrue but had cost him business. Jeffries also hit Steele back with his own Internet broadsides, calling Steele confused, unethical, and cancer-stricken.
Steele is the author of such books as How to Date Young Women, which advises middle-aged men how to score with women barely out of high school. Both Steele and Jeffries claim to be the top dog in the macho subculture of counseling men willing to pay to improve their luck with women. Their Internet flame war had been going on for three years before Jeffries finally went through with a longstanding threat to sue Steele for calling him a fraud.
Now Steele, destitute and lawyerless, turned to New Times for help. An article trashing Jeffries and his claims of hypnotizing women would get Steele the ink he needed to attract a publicity-hungry attorney to take his case gratis. Would New Times jump into the fray?
We said it wasn't below us.