Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tarts, The Pickup Artist and Sunday Club

I made these strawberry cream tarts for Sunday Club. The recipe was from the finale of My Kitchen Rules (http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/food/recipes/recipe/-/6966589/raspberry-tart-with-craeme-patissiere/). The judges raved about this raspberry tart saying that it was perfect and I wondered what made it taste so good. I checked out the recipe and found that it was all in the pastry. I have made a basic shortcrust pastry before containing butter, flour and egg yolks but this pastry contained toasted hazelnuts and coconut. All Sunday Clubbers commented on how great the pastry tasted. I couldn’t find any fresh raspberries so I used strawberries instead. Dark chocolate grated on top is a must, its bitterness is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the crème.

What is Sunday Club? 

Around three years ago, my friends and I started Sunday Club. It was a way for us to catch up each week and hang out in a relaxed, no fuss environment. We would all go over to someone’s house on a Sunday night to talk about all the things that were wrong about this world, watch TV and take turns bringing dinner.

We really got into watching So You Think You Can Dance on Sunday nights. There are a lot talent oriented reality TV shows out there but there is something about watching people who can ‘actually’ dance that is really engaging and mind blowing at times when you see the moves they can make. My favourite dances to watch are the paso doble, the tango and lyrical hip hop (when done well).

I like to have a bit of a dance sometimes but I can’t really dance…but I don’t think that it matters because the best kind of dancing is the “I don’t give a fuck” style of dancing, when you are just moving your body around in whatever way, and not caring about whether if you can dance or not, or if other people are watching. Dancing feels very liberating when you get into “that zone” … but one will always feel a little bit self-conscious when dancing so this is when a bit (or a lot) of alcohol can help.

Besides SDYTYCD, we also got into the reality TV show The Pickup Artist.

The Pickup Artist is a tale of transformation. For these eight lovable losers, "socially awkward" is the understatement of the year. And when it comes to this lonely hearts club, desperate times call for desperate measures. Enter Mystery, best-selling author and ultimate pick-up artist--a former nerd from the Great White North who has discovered the secret to wooing women. Under his expert tutelage, he'll guide this group of hapless horndogs through the rough waters of romance and help them find the courage to overcome their biggest fear--talking to women. 
In The Pickup Artist, eight misfits will live together, learn together and love together as they compete for the title of "Master Pick-Up Artist." Over the course of eight episodes, the men will learn the ins and outs of the Mystery Method-- "how to open a set," "the number close" and "the kiss close" among others. Aided by his faithful wingmen, Matador and J Dog, Mystery will teach these average guys how to turn the women of their dreams into the women of their reality. 
But this seduction school isn't confined the classroom. After each lesson, Mystery's awkward apprentices will put theory into practice, hitting bars, clubs and coffee houses in an attempt to make a love connection. Via hidden cameras, Mystery is always watching to see who's got potential and who's got to go. 
In each episode, one contestant will be declared the winner of a challenge and granted immunity from elimination, while one sad sack will be sent packing. At the end of the eight weeks, one winner will be named "Master Pickup Artist" and awarded $50,000. 

It sounds outrageous right? When I first heard that we would be watching The Pickup Artist at Sunday Club I was like this sounds really crap, I’m not watching shit like this. But this highly trashy and atrocious reality TV show is also highly addictive television watching, really interesting, hilarious and cringe worthy. What else would you want to be watching on a Sunday night?

In this superficial, hyperreality there was an element of normality that sucked us in. Watching The Pickup Artist was like watching some Discovery channel documentary on the social dynamics of the male species. We analysed each episode and had numerous discussions on the pick-up techniques used and their relevance to reality.

We also all read the The Game: Penetrating the Society of Pick-Up Artists by Neil Strauss . A book which details Strauss's infiltration into the subculture of pickup artists and reports its doings – all theories and strategies for picking-up are laid bare, including ‘The Mystery Method’. But do not be misled, it’s not all fun and games, underlying this book is a cautionary tale. Although there are lots of stories of successful pursuits, Strauss eventually reveals to you a world that dehumanises not only women but men as well, a world where many men become social robots (http://www.seductiontuition.com/neil-strauss/social-robots.html) and when Strauss meets the ‘one’, none of the tricks and on-liners worked, he had to cut out all the bullshit and just be himself.

In the end, what all these AFC (aka average frustrated chumps) lacked was some self esteem and confidence in communicating with women so some valuable lessons you can learn from The Game is how to comport oneself in public (ie: how to not freak out the opposite sex) but take everything with a pinch of salt. In the end you cannot just rely on the game, you have to develop yourself as a person – have good personal goals, live life to the fullest, treat people well, develop interests etc. Be a better person and everything else will follow.

We tried to find other shows to watch that looked at human relationships and consumed the following:
Desmond Morris The Human Sexes - a six-part documentary on the relationship between men and women (this guy looks at human relationships from a zoological point of view)
Japamorama - a series of documentaries exploring the various facets of popular culture and trends of modern-day Japan.

Below is a recipe for Sunday Club which I wrote for the zine I Am Still In Yesterday’s Clothes (Edition 3, Theme: Dinner Parties)


Serves: 4 people

Preparation Time: Sunday, approximately 7pm-11pm

Cooking Time: Rostered on, once every four weeks.

Difficulty: Moderate


4 friends (optional: 1 guest) 
1 delegated Sunday Club resident house
60GB of internet downloads a month
10+ illegally downloaded TV shows
1 television hooked up to Netgear (downloaded shows are streamed onto TV)
1 packet of rice crackers or rice Pringles
1 bowl of assorted nuts
2 comfy couches 
1 dinner-table with chairs (optional: eating dinner in front of the TV)

chopped up fruit (optional: warm fruit, topped with yoghurt+nuts)
trip to petrol station down the road for ice-creams (highly recommended: Golden Gaytime)
regular intermissions with tea and coffee


1. Preparation, send email to confirm attendance at Sunday Club.
2. Add requests for TV shows to be downloaded.
3. To assemble, meet up at Sunday Club resident house at 7pm.
4. Simmer with dinner.
5. Stir up with conversations.
6. Serve with downloaded television shows.


Recommended TV Shows
- So You Think You Can Dance
- The Pick-Up Artist
- Family Ties
- 21 Jump Street
- 30 Rock
- Japanorama
- Freaks and Geeks
- Mighty Boosh
- Nathan Barley
- Snuffbox
- Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
- Desmond Morris 
- Flight of the Conchords

Nowadays Sunday Club had expanded to 10 people, as a result we do a potluck dinner and all bring a plate of food to share. It doesn’t happen every week but maybe once or twice a month. With more people there is less TV watching and more game playing – croquet, card games, pictonary, Mafia, poker and of course more talks about life, the universe and everything.


  1. Whoa. Never heard of TPA, sounds like it really challenges the image of males as predatory creatures... Not!

    That reminds me, I've been wanting to watch Darkplace for a while, thanks!

  2. Yeah, my initial impresssions of TPA were quite negative but as you watch it and read the book you find that everything is not what it seems.

    Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace is brilliant, I managed to pick it up from ebay for 1 cent plus postage from the UK!

  3. What! 1 cent! Dude I can borrow it somehow!?

  4. Awesome post, Ai-Ling! I wish I had been there for more Pick-Up Artist. The one double-episode I saw was priceless. I find the terminology and the rules so interesting; a lot of the times these pick-up artist masters use it to sound really scientific as if you could control chemistry etc. There's a Canadian version of that show called Keys to the VIP which is even worse because the so-called "experts" are complete nobodies without even the oddball charm of Mystery (and his big hat!).

    Also: those strawberry cream tarts look delicious!

  5. I just don't see what is so appealing about the pick up artist dude, he is the WORST! He looks like one of those dodgy guys you see at big day out wearing a dumb hat he bought at side show alley that hits on any girl in sight.

    Nice tarts. Where is the glaze? Do we use glaze in Australia? bakeries in Paris go a little crazy with glaze but its good.

  6. Thanks Tristan. Just googled Keys to the VIP and it looks sick! Would be interesting to watch to see how it compares to The Pickup Artist.

    I agree with you Janelle, I think Mystery is the worst (he wears the most atrocious costumes!) but when you watch the show and read the book you will realise that only a certain subclass of females would fall for the Game, it doesn't work on everyone. Mystery could not hit on any girl in sight, he selects specific targets. I reckon if Mystery tried to hit on you or me, we'd make him cry because we'd be onto him and none of this tricks would work.

    I think The Pickup Artist is interesting to watch, especially the field tests and seeing the players in action - it has high entertainment value.

    There was no glaze used on the tarts. I've seen glazed tarts at bakeries but I don't think I would personally use it, I don't like things that are too sweet.