Chatting with Sexy People: Ava Maven
Ava Maven is a contributing Staff Writer here at Sex Is For Men, Too, and in real life she is, believe it or not, a dating coach, among many other impressive things. In our second installment of our Chatting With Sexy People column, She sat down with our own Thaddeus McDickery so he could pick her brain on the “attractive arts” and maybe even score some free tips!
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Thaddeus: So, hi Ava!
AM: Hi there!
T: I referred to you when I contacted you as a dating coach, but is that the best title for you?
AM: I go by a lot of titles… attraction artist, dating coach, relationship aide…
T: Relationship aide sounds dangerously close to “marital aide”.
AM: Right, not the one I usually choose. I like attraction coach or artist because that’s covers the most ground in terms of what I actually do. A lot of people use the term Pick Up Artist, but what I do is much more focused on attracting and keeping people in one’s life, in a number of areas, not just picking women up to sleep with them.
T: That’s good to hear. Attraction artist seems to imply that you can make people more attractive.
AM: Well, I believe I can, at least in the sense that I can bring their naturally attractive qualities to the surface.
AM: Attraction isn’t just about physicality.
T: Of course not. So there are obviously going to be people you focus on who have less physical attributes.
AM: Definitely, everyone has different problem areas and strengths, all my clients have very different needs. That’s part of what I find so exciting about this work. I’ve got clients with Aspergers, for example, who need a lot of help with reading emotions and sorting out humor, etc.
T: You can certainly imagine how they might need some guidance, for sure.
AM: I’ve got other clients who are very socially savvy but panic when it comes to closing the deal with a romantic partner.
T: Ah. Do you work more with men or with women?
AM: Mostly men, though I’ve had a few female clients and really enjoy working with them.
T: Different issues to focus on with women or is it universal?
AM: There are things that are universal, but of course it’s all happening from a different social angle as a woman. Basically, a lot of things are inversed. For example, most women prefer not to make the first move, so they need to learn how to make men comfortable enough to do so.
T: So that’s about creating an opening then?
AM: Well, I’ll give you an anecdote here. I was working with a woman who has Aspergers, a tough case as it were. And she was going on a trip to Mexico with a bunch of strangers. She was terrified that she wouldn’t know how to make friends or flirt.
T: Kinda sounds like a throwing-her-to-the-dogs situation in the first place. Talk about make or break.
AM: So we actually taught her by rote the physical signals to send if she was or was not interested in interacting with someone.
T: You taught her body language?
AM: Luckily for her, there’s a lot of science in what we do, so she was able to logically make sense of it. But yes, we taught her body language. We taught her how to send out indicators of interest or disinterest, by rote. For example, if you like a man’s attention: smile, hold the gaze for three seconds, then look down and away, still smiling.
T: So lessons and repetition?
AM: Exactly. But most of our clients don’t require such a clinical approach.
T: How well did that work out for her?
AM: She told us a fun story about a guy who came up to ask her to dance. She recognized the flirtation signals we had told her about and so was able to flirt back for a bit and then make a graceful exit before things got too hot to handle, as it were. She was really pleased with how it went.
T: You keep saying, “we did this” and that “our clients”…
AM: Indeed, I have a team. Mostly I meet with clients along with my partner, Malleus. I find it helps to have a male perspective in the room. Although in the end, I have the final word.
T: Is the male perspective as important when you’re working with women?
AM: Actually, yes. Because we do a lot of hands-on role-play work, and having me play the guy just doesn’t pack the same emotional punch. Also, I like to be able to sit back and observe.
T: Totally. So how did you actually get started? I imagine there isn’t a certificate or degree program in the “attactive arts”.
AM: [chuckles] Indeed, there is no PhD in Attraction. But my graduate work was focused on modern mating rituals, and I’ve always been fascinated by how people attract and repel others.
AM: I’ve always been the go-to gal in my circle of friends when someone needed dating advice, so at some point I decided I would do well to actually study up on the existing literature in the area. Turns out: there isn’t much. I figured out pretty quickly that my experiential knowledge had gotten me farther than most of these writers. Combine that with all the theatre training, and I realized I had a coaching method that really works. My partner’s background is focused on the science behind body language and facial expressions and other kinesics. We have both studied all the PUA canon and find that our backgrounds have allowed us to offer a much more refined and less sex-focused perspective on the whole thing.
AM: “Pick-Up Artist.”
AM: I had been helping some of my friends for free for a long time, and one of them finally said, “You really ought to be doing this for a living. It’s what you were made to do.” And I realized he was right. So we decided to start a business.
T: Okay, so I have a series of questions, then.
AM: Oooh, questions. Shoot.
T: Have you ever worked with any couples?
AM: Yes, we worked with a polyamorous triad who were trying to salvage at least one of the relationships involved.
T: How different was working with the couple?
AM: It was much more like traditional relationship counseling than the rest of what I do. That said, I would love the opportunity to work with more couples, particularly couples who are looking to open up their relationship. It’s something we have experience with and have a lot to offer. And I know they’re out there…especially in Seattle.
T: I assume that since couples get into patterns, part of what you have to work with is breaking those patterns so they’re open to other people.
AM: Everything I do is about breaking apart patterns and creating new ones. But yes, they are more pronounced in couples, and often harder to break, as there are two people and two sets of neuroses involved.
T: Okay. What is a flirting basic that you can give any of our male readers?
AM: There is no such thing as sexual tension without TENSION first. Don’t be afraid of conflict, just make sure to keep an amused, upbeat attitude all the while. To be more specific: Never apologize on your approach. Keep your own mind and disagree when you disagree. If something is awkward, make note of it OUT LOUD, but always with that spirit of play, as if you find it highly amusing. Also, if you want to hold a woman’s interest, you MUST become a decent story teller. You need to learn how to evoke emotional response just by talking about your life. 50% of the conversation should be you talking about yourself. And when you do ask her questions, make sure they are genuinely challenging, not obvious. A lot of what we do is simply getting men to this point, where they can converse in a way that is fun for both parties, while keeping that vein of tension throughout. Just making sure they know how to be interested and interesting at the same time.
T: Great, so what would you tell a reader who looks in the mirror and who may see nothing particularly attractive about himself?
AM: Great question. First, I would have him do some soul searching, to really discover whether or not he believes he has nothing to offer. That’s almost never the case. Next, we challenge him to do something he finds impressive. To start working on something he values so that he can feel valuable to himself. We had one client who could not speak up and acted as if nothing he had to say was interesting or important. But in probing, we discovered he had a failed boxing career in his past. This is not our usual M.O., but in this case, we took him to a boxing gym and got him back doing what he once felt so good about. After that, speaking confidently came relatively easily. We find it doesn’t take long, actually going out and doing something real that makes you feel good about yourself has an immediate and dramatic effect.
T: Wow, that’s really encouraging.
AM: It’s absolutely true.
T: So before we call it a day, what’s your website?
T: Cool. What’s the most attractive thing YOU find in people?
AM: Hmmm… I find that when someone’s passion really shines through, I find that irresistible. Especially if they happen to be really competent and/or talented in that same area. Very, very attractive to me.
T: Very cool. Anything else you want to pass on?
AM: Okay one more thing: Seattle is a great place if you don’t mind approaching. The most common complaint I hear from single women is that they never get approached. We have a friend who was a model back in NYC, a gorgeous black woman, and she actually started to believe she had somehow lost her looks when she moved here because NO ONE was approaching her. Ever. If you just have the cojones to go up and start chatting with a woman in a playful, relaxed way, you’ll be way ahead of the game.
T: So that sounds regional but pretty applicable in general that’s certainly good to know.
AM: Definitely applicable everywhere, just particularly true here.
Featured image photo used with permission, © TheAttractiveArts.com and Ava Maven, All Rights Reserved.