Jeremy Lin has dunked and dazzled his way toward shattering the Asian geek stereotype -- good at math, not good with the ladies.
Growing up Asian-American, my sisters and I were painfully aware of the biases, but it was worse for my brother.
But "Asian beefcake" has become hot in Hollywood too, with "Glee's" Harry Shum, Jr., "Hawaii 5-0's" Daniel Dae Kim, and Ken Jeong in "Community" and "The Hangover" films.
Enter JT Tran, the self-styled "Asian Playboy," who has built an empire from hosting dating seminars for single Asian men, who pay thousands of dollars to learn the art of romance from him.
"What we're trying to do is not protect our ego. It's not hard to mess up when you're nervous and you're stuttering," Tran said. "My best pick-up line is simply to come up to you and tell you that you're beautiful. It's short. It's simple."
Over three days of lectures and a couple of nights out on the town, participants in Tran's "ABCs of Attraction" seminars are taught how to dress, change their hair, walk and smile in a way that they are told will make them more attractive to the opposite sex.
The cost: Up to $3,500.
When asked if he was profiting off of others' insecurities, Tran said, "I provide a service and I do it in a very professional setting."
Once a spacecraft systems engineer, Tran said he wasn't always so lucky with the ladies.
"What I discovered getting out in the work force was that getting good grades wasn't enough, because I didn't go out on a single date until I was in college," he said.
But after graduating college in 2001, Tran said he tried blind dates, mixers and online dating, but nothing worked. He eventually started applying his systematic engineering skills to dating.
"You take a very complex subject, you break it down into the most essential principles and systems, and you ... make it basically a meta-framework that is understandable," Tran said.
He then decided to help his fellow Asian men, and a few non-Asians, become ladies' men.
"First strategy is what we call 'kino,' the art of kinesthetic touching," Tran said. "They did a study where if you touch appropriately and asked a woman to dance, 65 percent of them would say yes as opposed to if you didn't touch them, you only got 43 percent."
The "Asian playboy" believes that Asian men in America aren't perceived as alpha males in the dating scene, but they can learn to act like them, starting with getting rid of the so-called "Asian poker face."
"Whether it's a bar, a club or you're at the library, a grocery store, and you just have your poker face [on]," he said, "literally, we've had students that say it hurts, it hurts to smile."
Some of the participants are there because they haven't had a date in months or even years. Gene, a filmmaker, said he signed up for the "ABCs of Attraction" because he felt the deck was stacked against him as an Asian man.
"There are some social stereotypes at play that unfortunately a lot of Asian men internalize ... meek, quiet, unattractive, sexually undesirable, that kind of thing," he said.
Hank, who was born in Vietnam but grew up in Germany, has been to Tran's seminar twice and said it has helped him in all aspects of his dating and professional life because he has learned the traits that help you in the sexual marketplace also help you get ahead in the workplace: confidence and charisma.
Another participant, Ronald, said he is taking the seminar to learn how to date outside of his comfort zone.
"I want to break out of my Asian circle," he said. "Asian people are more comfortable together, and I guess that's why we stick together more."
Tran said the goal of the seminars was not to specifically help Asian men date white women, but to embrace women from all cultures as dating options.
"I've had a lot of students say they don't think non-Asian women like them," he said. "Here we're showing them that yes, if you are confident, these women will be attracted to you regardless of race."
After spending time in the classroom, Tran took his participants out for a night on the town, where they had to put their newly acquired pick-up skills to the test at a local New York City club. Although hesitant at first, each guy approached and successfully talked to a woman.
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