Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or maybe your weighted blanket, you know that there’s a pandemic happening. And this pandemic is forcing companies all around the nation to make pay cuts and/or lay off their employees, myself unfortunately included.
With the due date for my rent quickly approaching, I naturally began to brainstorm different ways to make good money, and make it fast. And then I remembered an Instagram DM I received a few weeks ago from a kind man who bluntly offered to be my sugar daddy (though he spelt it “sugga daddii”). For those who don’t know, a sugar daddy is a “rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favors,” according to Lexico.com.
I’m not above admitting that in the midst of all of this, I thought about taking him up on it. Maybe negotiate a deal where I get paid for a virtual date, and he’ll order takeout to be delivered to me—specifically, an overpriced vegan milkshake from By Chloe—and I’ll laugh at my own jokes while he sits there and offers to continue ordering me food for the rest of this quarantine. But then I snapped back to reality and realized I wasn’t starring in my own socially distant rom-com, and responding to one Instagram DM on a whim and just being my ~charming~ self would probably not magically get my rent paid. As a 28-year-old stripper to whom I spoke for this article put it, it’s not as easy as it may seem to make money as a sugar baby, or any other type of sex worker: “You have to be personable, witty, charming, intuitive, good at negotiating, assertive without being too emasculating (unless they want you to dom, obv), sexy, sensual, able to make a quick impression, willing to be sexual in front of people/a screen.” At most other jobs, you just have to show up and be awake.
And just like other industries, sex work is being affected by the pandemic. “In-person sex workers (strippers, sugar babies, full service workers, street workers) have lost their jobs as they know it, unless they want to expose themselves to COVID-19, which isn’t even an option for sex workers whose place of employment has closed down,” such as strip clubs, she explains. “Plus, some of our clients have lost work too and are unable to spend. So, even if we do want to move our work online, our clients might not be as able to buy our services.”
So why not just acquire new clients online? Because, according to the stripper, moving your work online to platforms like OnlyFans—a social media service that gives subscribers exclusive porn content—is, again, not easy. “Building a following online is extremely difficult and takes time and an understanding of the online world,” she explains. I mean, makes sense considering it takes time and effort to build a following on any other online platform. Nobody’s even asking for my nudes for free now, what makes me think I could just set up an OnlyFans and immediately start raking it in? “It’s tedious, time-consuming work that often doesn’t pay off for a while.”
Despite these strains, I had to think that there are still many people out there attempting to find a sugar daddy given the sudden need to make fast money. So, I decided to test my hypothesis out: is the sugar daddy business booming right now thanks to COVID-19? Are women cashing out on the chance to virtually date? Or are people reluctant to spend money, rich older men included?
I interviewed three sugar babies to see how their business has been affected, if at all, by the virus. Here’s what I found.
Sugar Baby #1
Sugar baby #1, a 25-year-old model in NYC who has no upcoming work right now, is in a pretty unique situation. Her sugar daddy is around her age and they’ve been friends for a while. He initiated the arrangement, asking her to send him selfies (just of her face) and text with him in exchange for money. Pretty jealous of this considering I take selfies of my face for free.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, her sugar daddy has asked her to visit and kiss him (weirdly PG, I know) for $1,000—clearly not abiding by social distancing rules. But that’s another story (or two, or three). He’ll usually only pay her $300-$400 at a time, so this was a sharp change, to say the least. (Catch me in a few more weeks of quarantine and I might be willing to drop a grand for human touch, too.) She says she has yet to follow through with the $1,000 kiss, but she also received a random deposit of $400 from him, which she described as a “security deposit so that I don’t leave him even though I moved home and so much has changed.”
Sugar Baby #2
The next sugar baby is a clinical research coordinator in Massachusetts. She met her sugar daddy on Seeking Arrangement, a website that “delivers a new way for relationships to form and grow” by connecting sugar babies to sugar daddies. She is 33 years old, while her sugar daddy is 42. She hooks up and attends bougie events with him in exchange for expensive gifts.
Sugar baby #2 decided to move out of her apartment complex into a home largely due to the coronavirus—she said it felt more safe to be by herself versus in a building with many other people. She expressed feeling anxious about moving and now being quarantined; as a response, her sugar daddy offered to pay her rent for the month (something he’s never done before). She also recently switched jobs (her previous job was changing rapidly because of COVID-19 and she wanted out), which means she’s no longer commuting into Boston, where her sugar daddy lives. Now that the convenience factor is gone, she knows she’ll have to end the relationship soon.
Sugar Baby #3
Sugar Baby #3 is 27 years old, lives in Boston and works in an admin role at a hospital, but will be starting nursing school in May. She also met her sugar daddy, who is 35, on Seeking Arrangement. They have the most “traditional” SD/SB relationship out of the bunch, where he pays her $800 or more for a date and a hookup with her.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, they mutually stopped talking to each other. Her sugar daddy has a wife, which as we can all imagine during a quarantine might make communication with his sugar baby tough.
While the digital sugar daddy space isn’t popping off as much as I’d expected, or in the ways I’d expected, the pandemic is still affecting the way sugar daddies and babies conduct business. Whether it’s upping the price one would be willing to pay for human contact, having your rent paid for you for the first time, or not being able to see your sugar daddy because he’s quarantined with his (poor, poor) wife, one thing has been made clear: this virus is changing how the world operates, sugar daddies, sugar babies, and general sex workers included.
Images: antoniodiaz / Shutterstock.com
When I began college in 2011, being able to survive financially meant either A) having rich parents, B) surviving off scholarships, C) falling into bottomless debt, or D) getting a part-time job. For me, this came down to blowing all of my scholarship money my freshman year, and then turning to waitressing at Mexican restaurants so I could afford to feed myself. (My diet became 80 percent Mexican food, which I now realize is not the best weight loss strategy.)
Eight years later, the internet and a growing number of applications have created a limitless number of ways for students to make money online, without having to ever leave their beds. So long to the days of having to physically go to work, because who wants to do that? Let’s be real, nobody, but especially not college kids.
When beginning to search for digital gigs that require little effort but that offer great financial reward, more and more college-age students are jumping on the sugar baby bandwagon. According to SeekingArrangement’s report, aptly called Sugar Baby University, more than 2.7 million college students have turned to sugar daddies to help pay off debt or offset other costs, like books and housing. But just like millennials and Gen-Z have different outlooks on social media, dating, and drinking than other generations, they’re also approaching the sugar babying world differently, getting a little more technologically savvy.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, sugar babies, according to the SeekingArrangement website, “enjoy a life of luxury by being pampered with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances.” Sugar Daddies or Mommas (those terms just gave me hives) want to “find beautiful members to accompany them at all times.” So, using services like SeekingArrangement, they link up. Basically, the idea is that sugar babies “accompany” daddies (to dinner, events, dinners, or whatever) and can receive money, gifts, etc. in return. Now, though, there are a growing number of sugar babies who are going digital and not meeting up with their daddies/mommas at all. Why do in person what you can do from your phone, right?
Me after successfully kill my sugar daddy and obtain his will pic.twitter.com/bkulsMg7Mp
— le marsh (@marshtick) August 11, 2019
Basically, being a digitally exclusive sugar baby means that these college students will either find a sugar daddy (or mommy) on their own, they will be found by one, or they can be matched using one of the many online sugar dating applications. Instead of being physically wined and dined like traditional sugar babies, digital ones simply look for someone who’s willing to pay money to hear their voice over the phone, video chat, or even just message back-and-forth. Must be nice.
While this may sound a little extreme (meaning, who on Earth can afford or would want to pay hundreds of dollars just to hear someone’s voice?), the practice is becoming more popular than you might think. (And again, I say: where can I find these rich benefactors who will FaceTime me for cash?) It makes sense that, in an age where online dating is ever-popular, that people would want their communication to happen online, too. On top of that, it’s not uncommon to end up with a married sugar daddy, to the point that there are blog posts dedicated to this very scenario. It’s not hard to understand why a rich guy would want to keep his secret gift-receiving girlfriend from his wife, and refusing to meet up offers an added layer of protection (and shadiness). There aren’t figures on how many sugar babies only communicate digitally, but recent online threads offer tips on how to finesse this sort of arrangement, though according to some forums, your odds of securing this type of arrangement are low. Still, if you’re already a sugar baby or considering becoming one, it probably can’t hurt to try.
Fittingly, Instagram has become a go-to platform to find and become a sugar baby. Search hashtags like “sugar baby,” “sugar daddy,” and more, and you’ll find a relatively easy-to-navigate sugar dating community. I’m dying to know what the process of sliding into those DMs are like.
RT if you need a sugar daddy like this?? pic.twitter.com/WF3X3j7TxD
— Sugar Daddy (@sugard8ddy) August 9, 2019
Using this hashtag search strategy, I stumbled across the Instagram account of Quyen Bui, better known as @chinkybutkinky on Instagram. This UMass Lowell student gets straight to the point with her PayPal information and Snapchat handle already in her bio. She also includes the disclaimer, “my username is for shits & giggles if ur a creepy old man pls exit (◕‿◕✿)”—even if she later acknowledges that old men make up her target demographic, this is “mostly to deter unwanted dick pics,” she says.
View this post on Instagram
Bui’s pictures are cute, but by today’s standards are far from being considered sexually suggestive or even thirst traps. Her Instagram feed just looks like what you’d see from a typical aspiring travel influencer. So, this begs the question, do digital sugar babies have to market themselves as sexual? Do they have to meet face-to-face with the people they’re getting money from? According to Bui, each digital sugar baby makes his or her own rules. For her, there are five:
- Never meet up
- Never give out personal information
- Never engage in anything sexual
- Finesse the “daddys” if possible
- Never let anyone low-ball
Regarding her last rule, Bui explains, “Basically, I’m expensive. have to pay me like $100 to $300 to talk to me or hear my voice on the phone. Easy savings for college.”
Although her rules exclude meeting up with her “daddies” in-person, Bui says that she has a fellow sugar baby friend from college who regularly meets up with her 50-year-old “daddy” for wine dates. (She didn’t want to be named because he has a wife and kids.)
Bui also explained that her friend doesn’t mind the in-person interaction because, the way she rationalizes it, she’s essentially she’s getting paid to drink wine. Meanwhile, Bui recalls frequently being begged online by strangers for $75 per phone call.
“They usually want to talk about sexual things. These rich horny old men are just lonely and want someone attractive to turn them on,” she said. “They want me to treat them like a slave and have them beg for me to let them send me money.”
Knowing this, I would argue that being a sugar baby is hella easier than wiping down tables, serving chips and salsa, and dealing with customers, period. Had I been a college student during the sugar baby era, I can’t say I would be opposed to making money over the phone. Sugar Baby University? Sign me up. FYI, the one rule with sugar dating that stands 100 percent of the time is, if you are going on a date with a stranger, tell a friend where you’re going and who you’re going with. Friends don’t let friends get kidnapped.
Images: Unsplash; marshtick, sugard8ddy / Twitter; chinkybutkinky / Instagram