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North helped on the screenplay, writing himself into the fictional protagonist, an overweight, pot-smoking, motorcycle-riding slacker named Dex, who works as a part-time kindergarten teacher in Santa Fe, and pursues women, including a friend’s wife, with astonishing success. His perceived powers of seduction have attracted national attention.

In just the past few weeks, he’s started writing a book and advice columns in a local paper and on the Internet (“Ask Duncan” https:// peppered with references to Oedipus, Plato, Aldous Huxley and Oscar Wilde.

“This woman said something I really disagreed with, so I argued with her. To the 16-year-old, it was as if he were Newton and an apple had fallen on his head. He analyzed the events, then jotted down what would become his rules for dating, a unique blend of spirituality and manipulation he calls the Tao of Steve--a guide that would lead to many successes, in the short term.

I was funny and playful, but I made some accurate, fact-driven point about politics. Basically, the theory dictates that to be successful with women, men must do three things: rid themselves of desire, exhibit excellence and then retreat.

Whenever he saw a girl he liked, he’d introduce himself as Steve.

As North tells the story, a beautiful girl walked into the bar.

Through a series of circumstances, Syd and Dex are thrown together and he soon finds himself questioning his belief in all things Steve, even as he continues to be the ultimate Steve guru.

Nevertheless, and contrary to the conventional wisdom of social scientists and the image makers of Hollywood, it is clear that many women are looking for more than just a sculpted body or a bank account.

When he tried the theory out later, it worked, he says, every single time.

North’s love life might have remained his own business were it not for filmmaker sisters Jenniphr and Greer Goodman, friends who used his life and theory as the basis for an independent film, “The Tao of Steve,” a crowd tickler at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and one whose popularity is growing by word of mouth.

When the truth comes out, Dex is finally forced to confront the realities of his life: not in terms of conquests and image, but on the most fundamental emotional level.

Jenniphr Goodman, a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, directed her first feature "The Tao of Steve" after graduating with honors in Directing from New York University's Graduate Film School.

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