Inside Indigo at The O2, a thousand would-be girlfriends are losing their shit. There’s dancing. Hugging. Questionable music by Pitbull. Women screeching at a pitch guaranteed to terrify passing dobermans. The reason? One man. And his flipchart.
This is ‘Get the Guy’. For £25 a ticket, this women-only seminar promises benefits like ‘never again being confused by men’ and ‘understanding exactly how men think’. For nine months it will tour the world, giving dating advice to 20,000 women in cities including LA, New York and Toronto.
The man whose flipchart acumen it’s showcasing is Matthew Hussey, a London life coach-turned international dating guru and author, as well as (according to his website) advisor to royalty, hedge fund managers and Christina Aguilera. He also seems to have the market cornered when it comes to offering women dating advice on YouTube.
‘His videos changed my life,’ explains Fiona, a thirty-something divorcee who has travelled to today’s event from Bognor. ‘They gave me my self-worth back after my marriage broke down.’ ‘It was really inspiring stumbling across his YouTube channel,’ says Faith, a 28-year-old nurse from Windsor also at the seminar. ‘He seems to genuinely want to help other people improve.’
[Suggested text to get a man’s heart racing: ‘I just had the most life changing burger! Almost sexual, I should say.’]
Hussey’s videos, which have racked up millions of views, are so popular partly because his tips appeal to women of all ages. This event is attended by everyone from youthful, red-lippy-caked hipsters in neon jeggings to greying, matronly types right there alongside them. Hell, when I mention the way I’m spending my Saturday to my mum, she immediately namechecks Hussey’s YouTube channel – this from a woman who describes desirable single males as ‘illegible bachelors’. In fact, the only person who doesn’t know what to expect is me, the sole bloke in the audience. Clearly Mr Get the Guy knows how to put women under his spell, but did I miss the Penis Owners’ AGM where we voted him in as our official mouthpiece? How can one man summarise the thoughts of every male in the world? After all, I don’t understand how men work and I, according to my birth certificate, am one.
He’s got six whole hours to convince me. Hussey walks on stage and removes his jacket to raucous wolf whistles. He insists there will not be a single break (‘You go to the toilet, you hurry back or you miss something’) and proceeds to take the rapt crowd through an experience that’s part business conference, part evangelical church service, part Tiger Tiger dancefloor. Mostly he concentrates on the basics: smile at men you like the look of; start conversations instead of waiting to be talked to; don’t stand in a closed circle when you’re out or you’ll look like you don’t want to be approached. Then, every hour or so, it all kicks off. To stop energy levels dropping, Hussey presses play on his laptop, and the venue’s speakers blare out uptempo chart pop. The women vault about while this beefy Daniel Radcliffe lookalike leads them in a motivational love rave to the music of Mark Ronson.
‘Say “yes!”’ he yells.
At one point a woman is dragged away by security after invading the stage to cling to Hussey like a human limpet. There could be more euphoria flowing from these lady larynxes, but only if Ryan Gosling wandered onstage. Topless.
I don’t say ‘YES!’. Instead I cover my ears and try to look inconspicuous. Also, I’m beginning to think that some of his advice needs to be approached with extreme caution. Sample chatup line: ‘I like your tie. You should stay away from me. I’m obsessed with ties.’ ‘“Obsessed” is a very sexy word,’ says Hussey. Another tip: if you tell someone to stay away, ‘they will want to get close to you’. Sorry, but I am not getting ‘sexy and fun’ from ‘obsessed’ and ‘stay away from me’. At best I’m worrying about my potential date’s clinginess; at worst, I’m wondering if I’ll find her rifling through my bins.
However, there’s no doubt Hussey’s approach is popular. ‘I’ll definitely try it,’ says Kim, a customer relations manager. ‘So often when he pointed out things women do wrong, I was, like, ‘I do that!’’ She’s one of the more restrained ones. At times he talks up his crowd’s self-worth so movingly that they melt like their insides have turned to Creme Egg filling. It’s empowering. It’s heartwarming. It’s great guidance. And when he urges women to open themselves to having more fun – explaining that it makes you more fun to be around –it occurs to me that he has probably identified the single most fanciable quality I can think of in a woman.
Then, as the event draws to a close, things get really odd. A giant video screen flickers into life. The words ‘The Matthew Hussey Retreat’ appear on it, and for 30 minutes we’re shown a promo video for Hussey’s £2,500 Stateside ‘life transformation week’. Lingering shots of beautiful oceanscapes are intercut with scenes of emotional women lying on their backs, mascara streaming below leaking eyeballs. ‘I didn’t love myself and now I do,’ sobs one as a piano soundtrack tinkles to a crescendo. ‘Everyone can benefit from this.’
The lights snap back on and a team of volunteers start thrusting sign-up forms into our hands. Hussey’s now saying things like ‘Here’s my advice for you: apply.’ Then he’s yelling: ‘The first 50 people to hand in their forms get to come up on stage for a hug and a kiss!’ Funny, really. Six hours of dating tips and not once did he reveal that the way to get a smooch from a guy was to fill in a form. Still, the ladies seem to get the hang of it. As I leave, they’re squealing and storming the stage as though Ryan Gosling had turned up after all. Topless. And handing out free kittens.
The Get the Guy tour comes to Kensington Town Hall on Sep 19, noon-6pm. £25.
For more dating data, see the results of our 2015 Global Dating Survey.