Dark Rage

School Shooters Love This Pickup Artist Website

The company that employs the infamous pickup artist Julien Blanc also attracted a dangerous subset of men to its forums—including a would-be school shooter and an alleged kidnapper.

Dair Massey/The Daily Beast

Real Social Dynamics, the company that employs the now-infamous pickup artist Julien Blanc, appears to have a history of responding to the alleged criminal behavior of its members with a particular damage-control tactic: delete and distance. Both James Seevakumaran—the former student who planned a school shooting at the University of Central Florida last year before taking his own life—and a man named John Mulvehill, who goes to trial this month on charges that he kidnapped a woman and held her captive while he masturbated on her, were active members of RSD. Forum accounts for both men were deleted following their alleged crimes—along with any mention that they had been involved with RSD—according to interviews with former employees, and a tour of RSD’s archive through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, where many deleted posts are still visible.

It’s important to note that neither of these cases link criminal behavior to RSD’s teachings, and RSD isn’t responsible for the crimes of its followers. Moreover, RSD co-founder and president Owen Cook often posts videos encouraging men with anger issues and depression to get healthy and seek help. Still, by staying silent when faced with the violent element within its own community, and opting instead to hide its association with men accused of such crimes, RSD does little to dissuade the future violence of a dangerous subset of users—and this speaks to what seems to be a company culture of secrecy at any cost.

James Oliver Seevakumaran

It took three weeks for RSD to learn that James Seevakumaran had been an active member of its community. In March of last year, the 30-year-old former student had nearly executed a school shooting at UCF, one he had planned with a type of to-do list of tasks that included: get drunk, pull the fire alarm, and mow down students as they ran from the dorms. Ultimately Seevakumaran only pointed a gun at his roommate, who locked himself in a bedroom and called 911. Seevakumaran took his own life as the police responded.

An article in the Central Florida Future quoted a 24-year-old information tech major, who claimed to be Seevakumaran’s “wingman,” as saying “[Seevakumaran] was trying to improve his life, from what I know, at least with girls.” Another acquaintance described Seevakumaran as “a creep,” who would “constantly hit on women.”

In April, an RSD user emailed the forum’s moderators, alerting them to Seevakumaran’s true identity—the user said he had been posting under the name “Wonderland.” Photos posted on Wonderland’s RSD blog of the would-be shooter and a linked YouTube site with Seevakumaran’s video diaries confirm that Seevakumaran owned the account.

For years, Seevakumaran had been contributing to blogs and conversations on RSD’s website, writings which revealed a frustrated and angry young man with a drinking problem, who was obsessed with getting girls and crippled by his deficiencies—including his insecurity over his mixed-race heritage and the feeling that he was “a freak.” In the April email, the user warned the forum’s moderators that if the media found the connection, they would “have a shitstorm on RSD.”

By the next day, more than 500 posts, and all traces of Wonderland, had been deleted. Included in the purge was Wonderland’s final post from the day of the planned attack. In a blog post titled “im sorry,” he wrote only “please forgive me.” These posts are still available in archives that are only viewable to privileged members of the forum. Many, however, are also still available via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which provides access to older versions of a webpage.

“Maybe if the head of RSD said, ‘Yo, this happened, we don’t agree with it and we’re going to immediately cut ties with this person and say that this is not what we stand for’ I would have backed him 100 percent, said Jon J. [handle: “Manwhore”], a former RSD moderator who says he’s the one who actually deleted Wonderland’s profile. “But the culture of RSD has always been to shy away from media...because there’s always been an editorial slant from the mainstream media [when it comes to the pickup community],” he told me.

Wonderland—he journaled under "Fear," renaming it "Wonderland in Alice" later—was incredibly active on RSD forums. From 2011 until the day of his suicide in 2013, Seevakumaran posted hundreds of blog posts and “field reports” that included the obsessive tallying of women he spoke to that day—in the 20 months he was active in the forum, Seevakumaran approached 610 women in real life and more than 800 online. He also posted the results of the interactions that usually ended in frustration, but on rare successes, began with “DATE!” or “LAID!”

Wonderland posted videos taken with a hidden camera—in a cross necklace, or inside a watch or glasses—of him hitting on women. Most have been deleted though some still exist on Seevakumaran’s YouTube page. Others on the RSD forum would deconstruct his approach: “too aggressive,” “too many questions,” “nervousness in your voice,” etc. A few praised his video posts and said he inspired them to keep at it.

Several posts showed an obvious aggression towards the women he desired. In February 2012, he talked about women who wouldn’t sleep with him.

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“i see ugly chodes with girls, i fucking hate this shit, i hope all these cunts fucking die,” he wrote.

After one particularly unsuccessful night, one of the forum’s “senior members”—handle: “Mack Swagger”—whom Seevakumaran wrote about hitting up bars with several times, posted, “Let that frustration stew inside you and motivate you. Let it compel you to never deprive yourself of what your entitled to again...”

By May 2012, Seevakumaran seemed disenchanted with RSD and the game. “I know why i suck at this, and why most dudes on here will NEVER be a natural, its because they aren't wired that way...” he wrote. He was quiet until September, when school records indicate Seevakumaran had withdrawn from two of his classes, dropping from 10 credit hours to just three. His posts were much darker than they had been.

By the fall, Wonderland was crying out on RSD’s forum. In rambling posts, he called himself a loser, and wrote that he must be either bipolar or a psychopath. He wrote that he deserved to die and alluded to a ominous plan that he had backed out of twice already.

By 2013, Seevakumaran had dropped out of school entirely. Increasingly depressed and angry journal entries in his field report journal were offset by posts with “inspirational” videos of RSD instructors Julien Blanc and Owen Cook giving seminars, along with Seevakumaran’s own plans to diet and get sober—neither of which would come to pass.

Seevakumaran uploaded six videos to YouTube on March 17, just hours before he would threaten his roommate and commit suicide. In the video diaries, he seems to be pumping himself up: ”I need to man up”, he says in one as he fondles what looks like an ice pick. In another, he slurs through racist rants (a toxicology report would later show he had been drinking) and rails against women who rejected him. The penultimate upload, titled “manifesto,” is a slideshow with text which reads, in part, “I am a true individual. I will not exist in a world of clones...Only. I. Matter….I will bury you.”

John Mulvehill

Another former RSD adherent John Mulvehill, 31, (handle: ‘JMULV’) was apparently far more successful in his quest to sleep with women. The self-described “elite player,” known for having t-shirts made to celebrate the notable milestone of bedding 150 women, and later 200, attributed his success to the RSD bootcamps he had attended and the lessons gleaned from company instructors.

But some of his pickup methods might actually be criminal, according to the state of Nevada. Mulvehill has pleaded not guilty to two charges of kidnapping and coercion—both felonies—and two misdemeanor charges of lewdness stemming from a night out on May 29 of last year. According to the arrest report, Mulvehill met a woman and her two friends at a bar. They flirted and Mulvehill literally picked her up—a move seen in many RSD videos—and “flung her over his shoulder” and carried her away to “get a drink.” When she protested, he put her down briefly before picking her back up. At first, she thought he was just joking around, but soon, Mulvehill was scaring her, according to the report. As he led her not to the bar but to the hotel garage and his car, the arrest report says, she texted her friends

There, he allegedly pulled her into the back seat of his black Pontiac. According to the report, “She kept telling him she wanted to leave,” and tried to open the back door, but child locks kept her trapped. Then, “Mulvehill pulled down his pants and started masturbating his penis, trying to grope [her] breasts, and continually tried to kiss her. He then told her to watch him masturbate,” the report says.

When the alleged victim threatened to call 911, she says, Mulvehill tossed her phone out of her reach and held her by the arm. Eventually the woman’s friends found her in the garage and banged on the window until a pantless Mulvehill let her go, according to the police report. Mulvehill’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

The arrest report sounds eerily similar to a night Mulvehill described on the RSD forum a month prior, still visible via The Wayback Machine.

According to his posts, Mulvehill worked as an assistant for Cook and other instructors during a Las Vegas bootcamp in April of last year. During that weekend, he writes, he met a two girls in a diner. In the post, he details how he separated one from her friend, and convinced her to go back with him to a studio apartment for drinks around 5:30 a.m. Mulvehill writes that he tried kissing her “a bunch” from the second they met, but “she kept resisting.” They go into the bathroom, and he asks her to sit by him in the shower. He tries to kiss her again, but, he writes, “she didn't comply.” After some teasing and talking, Mulvehill writes that she is “hesitant” but they start kissing. And then he writes, “she still is being somewhat non-compliant so i tell her that it's a huge turn on for girls to watch me jerk off. i take my dick out and tell her that if she watches we can go watch the sunrise and party. she is reluctant to watch but eventually starts looking.”

This thread is no longer visible on the RSD forum, as Mulvehill’s profile and posts were removed the day after his arrest. When another user referenced Mulvehill later, a moderator warned that Mulvehill’s name was not to be mentioned on the forum again.

Elliot Rodger

Considering that two men who dedicated large portions of their lives to RSD have been accused of such serious crimes, it’s ironic that RSD got the most attention for a crime perpetrated by one of its detractors.

RSD held the national spotlight for a moment earlier this year when the media discovered that Elliot Rodger—the 22-year-old who stabbed and shot six people to death in Santa Barbara on May 23—had subscribed to an RSD Youtube channel and left a manifesto referring to himself as “the true alpha male." Though Rodger was actually active in a group that opposed RSD called PUAHate, the media—unaware of the intricacies of the PUA community—labeled him an RSD follower, and failed to mention he was likely following RSD’s channel as a critic of their teachings.

On a forum thread discussing Rodger’s rampage, Cook weighed in, as any normal person might, distancing his company from the mass murderer.

“It's insane to see what the extreme version of that type of helpless anger combined with mental illness can create,” Cook wrote. “I don't think ‘learning pickup could have prevented this’. I think every dude whose been rejected might have a flash of that type of anger at one point or other, and have gotten relief from learning how to talk to girls, so they assume it could have helped. But this sort of thing is beyond that.

“If you have any anger towards women,” he added, “DROP IT.”

In his response, Cook spoke sensitively about the very real danger present in the general pickup community. It may now be time for RSD to address the violent element within his own organization. Requests for comment from RSD were not returned.