British pickup artist targeting Asian women in Hong Kong defends videos, says ‘men should be free to be men’
Donald Trump-loving Nicholas Coakley, aka ‘Explorer Nick’, has racked up thousands of views on YouTube with clips such as ‘Chinese girls like dating white guys’ that depict him trying to seduce Asian women in public places
A British pickup artist who posts videos of himself approaching women in countries throughout Asia has brought his controversial dating techniques to the streets and malls of Hong Kong.
Nicholas Coakley, aka “Explorer Nick”, has made a name for himself with provocatively titled clips such as “Chinese girls like dating white guys”, which depict him hitting on Asian women in public places with the aim of seducing them.
His candid come-ons, which rack up thousands of views on YouTube, funnel viewers towards paid content that costs US$27 per month on URLs tailored to each country he visits.
He draws messages both of support from those who wish to emulate what they perceive as his success in dating, and criticism from others who take issue with his approach and the fact that he films women without their consent.
Coakley has been threatened with legal action in Thailand, where a young pharmacist took umbrage at him filming her and reported him to the police. But the 28-year-old says he is doing nothing wrong.
During an interview over Skype from his Airbnb rental in Hong Kong, Coakley is wearing a cap featuring the “Make America Great Again” slogan of US president Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 19 women, and who the vlogger claims he can relate to.
“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about fake news,” he says. “What most people say about him is lies and false information or taken out of context. Him bragging about being successful with women is a fairly normal guy thing.”
Before the Skype chat took place, Coakley had cancelled a planned interview with the Post, sending an email saying: “Sorry met a girl last night kinda busy … maybe will have to reschedule.” The email included a picture of a dark-haired woman wearing only a G-string.
In his defence, Coakley says he doesn’t force women to engage with him, that he is allowed to film in public without expressed consent, he isn’t trying to humiliate any of the women, and that any physical contact that occurs is between two consenting adults.
He claims to usually know whether a woman is interested in him, even though many women seen in his videos appear uneasy.
While Coakley says he would condemn any harm that came to women as a result of viewers inspired by his channel, he says he is not responsible for people’s actions. “All I’m doing is making videos about my pickup – not giving instructional videos. If someone goes and hurts a girl, the girl should go to the police.”
One recent clip filmed in Hong Kong shows Coakley chatting to an unnamed woman he meets in a mall in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. The woman looks over her shoulder nervously after Coakley approaches her while she looks at make-up and he offers his opinion on lipstick colours.
Coakley steers the conversation towards travelling, dating and nightclubs in Hong Kong and the video culminates in the pair swapping WeChat details.
In another, also in Causeway Bay, Coakley greets a group of girls in Mandarin, before persuading one to give him her WeChat details.
“I get rejected a lot, I’m not ashamed to say. It’s actually the rejection videos that create the biggest stir,” he says, referring to the previously mentioned exchange with the pharmacist.
Any backlash to his videos, Coakley believes, stems from “xenophobia” towards him and “Asian guys getting jealous”.
Whether he admits it or not, Coakley seems to enjoy creating a stir and eliciting reactions from people. He claims that while he does not regard women as “easy” (despite his current website’s title, HongKongGirlsEasy.com), he uses this term to give people “the narrative they want to hear”.
As a teenager growing up in London, Coakley was shy and had trouble meeting girls, but inspiration struck during one family holiday as he leafed through relationship advice in his sister’s women’s magazine.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I wish I could find some advice for men’,” he recalls. He looked online for dating advice and discovered a book titled The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, in which writer Neil Strauss details his experiences among a movement of men dedicated to seducing women. “I was blown away,” Coakley says.
While studying at Oxford Brookes University, in the UK, he says he went “full force” into socialising among students from Asian countries, particularly Japan. “I dated some English girls, but realised I wasn’t as attracted to them as Japanese girls,” he says.
“People might call it ‘yellow fever’, but I just like Asian girls and how they look, in the same way Thai girls or Hong Kong girls might like to date white guys.”
He moved to Tokyo and became part of Japan Lair, a community of pickup artists, and honed his technique. He befriended US YouTuber and fellow pickup artist David Bond, who attracted controversy in 2014 for a video filmed in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district in which he claims to steal a local woman from her boyfriend. Coakley and Bond regularly travel together, documenting their dating experiences along the way.
Coakley earns money from freelance work for Japanese marketing firm Dentsu Aegis Network, but says YouTube and his paid subscriber content have become another source of income.
Being a pickup artist, Coakley says, is “a really productive way of meeting girls” that is no different from meeting potential partners in nightclubs.
“The only real difference is if you’re doing it in the street or cafe or environment that isn’t societally pre-designed to facilitate meeting and dating. Most people wouldn’t do that because they’re too shy and would find it too cringey to approach someone in a mall. But you can meet a girl and take her home within hours,” he says.
“I understand why these girls answer, they’re not doing anything bad – it’s all the game of dating,” says Hong Kong filmmaker Nicola Fan, who directed She Objects, a 2016 documentary about how the media objectifies and diminishes women, and how that portrayal affects how women view themselves.
“But he talks about them in a belittling way, as if they’re easy prey. He’s targeting them. A hunting mentality.
“Some people want a casual hook-up, which girls are interested in as well. But I would be upset if I were to hook up with someone and the next day I became just one of the girls he talks about online, which is another level to just him talking among his friends.
“That mindset perpetuates how girls see themselves and how society treats girls – what they are used for, what they are good for.”
Fan advises anyone who finds themselves a subject of such public advances to take caution. “We all need to be careful with strangers approaching us – we don’t know what their intentions might be, it doesn’t matter who it is,” she says.
Coakley says that while his videos might not faze some of his relatives, his parents aren’t supporters – to the point where his father has branded him a “misogynist”.
“They buy into anything they read in the news … [such as] feminism. I’m not against equality for women, but I don’t like this new wave of feminism. Men should be free to be men. I shouldn’t be afraid to go up and ask for a girl’s number,” he says.
“It annoys me how politically correct the online community is. People are very concerned about what other people think, [whereas] I don’t think it’s that important at the end of the day.”
Coakley admits that he is “impulsive” and lives life “day-by-day”, and says he is not concerned about any future repercussions from his videos and wants to continue growing his channel.
“I’m not ashamed to do what I do. I like it, it’s part of my life, it’s given me a lot of confidence and I’ve met a lot of cool girls and guys. I’m happy to be the public face of it,” he says, adding: “I want to live my life my way.”