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JT Tran, CEO of the dating bootcamp ABCs of Attraction, speaks at an Asian Pacific Student Coalition event. The “Asian playboy” was an aerospace engineer before he entered the dating advice industry.

Credit: Stephanie Nam

The catalog of rakes, womanizers and pick-up artists typically unravels as such: Casanova, Don Juan, James Bond. Enter the “Asian Playboy,” JT Tran.

The Asian Pacific Student Coalition hosted Tran Thursday night in Huntsman Hall to address challenges and stereotypes facing Asian American men in the dating world.

College junior and APSC Communications Director Jessica Yan described the event as a forum for discussion of sensitive Asian cultural issues. She said she was “happy that people who often wouldn’t be interested in Asian issues came to the event, and got a deeper perspective on issues we face as Asian-Americans.”

The event filled a second-floor Huntsman classroom, drawing a crowd with equal numbers of males and females.

Shaohan Zhou, an international Drexel student from Beijing, had heard of the Asian Playboy in California and expected to hear advice “about how to meet people, how to be confident.”

Tran’s presentation launched into a host of cultural issues, drawing upon both statistical data and colorful anecdotes.

He touched on themes like the “bamboo ceiling” — the phenomenon describing corporate trends where Asians often have excellent representation in entry and middle-management jobs but not upper management.

In his more than two-hour talk, Tran also discussed experiences of both conscious racism and unconscious bias against Asians, cultural differences between Asians abroad and Asian-Americans, higher suicide rates among ethnic Asians in the military and statistics like how approximately 20 percent of Asian-American men never marry.

Tran described how he entered the relationship coaching industry. He graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology and became an aerospace engineer.

Dissatisfied with perpetual bachelorhood, Tran began adopting a scientific approach to increase his success in the social sphere. He started a blog geared towards dating from an Asian-American perspective.

Tran said his role as a dating guru “was forced upon” him, describing the fateful call he received one day from a Canadian woman who had discovered his blog.

She explained that Neo-Nazis had bullied her son for his entire high school career, stinting his social development. She had hoped to enlist Tran to increase the youth’s self-esteem and social adroitness.

The woman flew Tran northward, put him up in a hotel and paid him to serve as positive role model and “big brother” to her son.

Tran’s first client has now graduated college and is in a serious relationship.

There was some controversy surrounding the playboy’s appearance, however.

An anonymous poster on the Pan-Asian American Community House Tumblr page wrote, “the whole jt tran talk is disgusting. so disgusting. so disappointed in our student body.”

Another agreed, criticizing APSC for “spending their budget on bringing in controversial speakers for the sake of ‘generating interesting debate’ when they could be bringing in role models and community activists.”

Tran responded, “I believe I am a positive role model. My solutions are simple, effective and not necessarily politically correct.” These are issues that no one else addresses or has a solution to, he said.

This story has been updated to reflect that Jessica Yan is the APSC Vice Chair of Communications, not the APSC Communications Director.

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