Woman sets sugar daddy honeytrap
It all began with a news article.
'More Sydney uni students opt for sugar baby life', Gillian McNally wrote for News Corp last month, explaining, "177,000 Australian university students are now … seeking 'sugar dating' arrangements."
McNally reported that since 2006, the website SeekingArrangement.com has seen "continuous growth in sign-ups among Sydney students", particularly those enrolled at the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales.
Naturally, I was intrigued.
Why are so many young Australian women enchanted by the sugar baby experience? Is having a sugar daddy just glorified sex work? What kind of money are we talking about here? And, above everything, what is it really like to sign up for one of these websites?
The next step was obvious.
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Yep, I signed up to a sugar baby website and chatted to strange men on the internet for a week.
Why? As a social experiment, I guess … kinda like Married At First Sight, only classier. And with less public humiliation.
Because I'm a woman of the people, I put my dignity on the line so you don't have to.
It turns out there are a number of options for anyone who wants to live the sugar baby/sugar parent lifestyle. I settled on SugarDaddyMeet.com, mostly because I'm hopelessly stingy and don't want to cough up $70 per month for a paid membership like every other website requested.
This feels like a fatal flaw in the rival sugar baby websites; if I'm broke enough to consider procuring old, rich white guys as a decent way to make rent and buy my weekly supply of two-minute noodles, I'm obviously too broke to pay for aforementioned access to old, rich white guys.
Logic, people, please.
After choosing an alias (as suggested), I made my account. I selected a few photos from my Instagram feed and curated a profile of what I believe is the quintessential dumb millennial.
And just like that, ShellyBabes the sugar baby was born.
"I'm just a blonde girl looking for a good time," my bio read.
"A passionate Pisces who is looking for a Taurus or Cancer. Will settle for a Capricorn. Not touching a Sagittarius with a 10ft pole. Sorry, but, like, ew. Just no. I love nothing more than a nice cold celery juice on an empty stomach, dancing like nobody's watching, and buying pretty things. Hehe!"
My honey pot of narcissism and pseudoscientific nonsense was set: I was ready to attract the richest, wrinkliest bee to my sweet nectar of youth.
I imagined George Clooney-esque characters flooding my inbox with messages of how they could save me. I was ready for Richard Gere in Pretty Woman to shower me with jewels and designer clothes for simply having female genitalia.
I simply couldn't wait for a silver fox to tell me his Taurus energy was the perfect match for my water sign.
That's when I got my very first DM from "BigChoc" and my illusion of sugar daddies came tumbling down.
"$500 pay per meet wat do u recon," BigChoc's first love letter to me read.
Gavin* got straight to the point: "Hi babe sorry to be blunt but what are ur thoughts on regular once a week f**k buddy? I'll pay but not too much haha." (So. Romantic.)
Jimbo* wasn't backwards in coming forwards: "Are you keen on discreet fun for rewards $$???"
When I pressed Jimbo as to what exactly he meant by "discreet" and "fun" and "rewards", he elaborated: "Secret drinks chat sex for cash is it a yes or no." (It was a hard no.)
Pretty soon it became clear that the average sugar daddy is nothing like what I'd previously imagined.
The guys on these websites aren't even that old. The majority of men who approached me for a "date" were aged between 30 and 40 and looked like the kinds of guys who'd non-ironically enjoy Charlie Sheen's latest Ultra Tune ad.
That all said, the offers were pretty lucrative.
A man with the moniker "GG" offered me $300 just to get a soy latte with him.
"Cash4Girls" said he'd give me $3000 if we spent eight nights together, with a $1500 shopping spree bonus if I made it to the final day (kind of like the Hunger Games … but if you replaced Katniss Everdeen's bow and arrow with … sex?).
Nic was keen to discuss an ongoing arrangement - $1500 a week - so long as I was "submissive" and "turned on by a man with money and power".
Dan offered me months of "free international travel" in exchange for "intimacy" and "company".
Oh, and a man by the name 'Mot' asked for "just someone breathing". Yep.
In five days, I received 30 cash offers. 27 of those were for sex, three were for stuff as innocent as dinner and drinks.
Some of the guys seemed nice enough. Some insisted they were in perfectly happy marriages but needed something "extra" on the side. Some spoke endlessly of their salaries. Some sent me selfies inside their luxury cars and got angry when I didn't reply within a couple of hours. Some didn't have photos on their profile at all.
But all of them seemed a little bit hollow. A little sad. Like really lonely men, who don't quite know how to connect with women if not through their bank accounts.
I still don't know if I feel sorry for them, or if I'm impressed: There are - clearly - plenty of people who enjoy arrangements like these, who have no qualms about monetising the girlfriend experience.
Perhaps the real winners are the ones who don't overthink everything that's weird about that.