Is there a difference between sugaring and escorting? Is there a line? And what happens if you cross it? There are fairly radical feminists willing to argue that pretty much all relationships between men and women amount to prostitution of some sort because of the inherent imbalance of power between the sexes. And there are men’s rights advocates who seem to be arguing that all women are essentially on the game and men are on the hook financially in every male female relationship.
Our own view is that money is one of the many factors which comes into relationships between men and women (as well as man and men – with lesbians, well its complicated.) Obviously money is an essential element in the escorting transaction but the sugar baby world is more ambiguous.
We’d been in touch with a few girls who are working in the very grey zone between sugaring and outright escorting and thought their stories were interesting.
“There is a bit of a dance in the sugar baby game.” said Sharon who lives in a suburb of Cleveland. “A lot of girls start sugaring with the idea that a nice, older, gentleman will pay them a lot of money every month for the pleasure of their company once a week for a fabulous dinner and that will be pretty much it. Which is crazy if you know the first thing about men.”
“My experience: a guy takes you out to a sports bar and, unless you are very clear, wants to take you to a motel for a sample before a dollar changes hands. I mean, ladies, be real. Men are not lining up to give you money for a kiss on the cheek.”
“There is a lot of nonsense about sugaring not being “transactional”. An escort wants to be paid up front for her time, a sugar baby supposedly wants to find a wealthy gentleman who will give her nice things and an allowance paid monthly. Somehow the “paid monthly” is supposed to change the nature of the transaction. I don’t think so.”
“When I answered my first ad for a “sugar situation” I had the whole sports bar and a quick grope routine. I was pretty naïve but I smartened up fast. My mistake, and it was a classic sugar baby mistake, was to meet in a casual, built in a mall, chain restaurant and expect my date to be dedicated to the “finer things in life”. As if.
“The next time I picked the spot. Upmarket. Three of the guys who contacted me, when I told them where we would meet the first time, vanished. But the next guy was delighted. Now it was my turn to panic a bit because, truth to tell, I had never been to this particular restaurant. But I borrowed a really pretty cocktail dress from a friend and, on spec, bought some really pretty heels. I looked great and, other than being about fifteen years younger than any of the other guests, looked as if I belonged. My date was a nice man in his early fifties and knew his way around a menu and a wine list.”
“We had a great time and, over desert, he came to the point. He was interested in seeing me but didn’t want the obligation an allowance implied. He proposed paying me for each encounter.”
“Now he also promised some shopping and things like spa days and hair appointments; but the fact was I had to make up my mind about being paid “transactionally”. It was actually a pretty easy decision – he was a very nice guy, reasonably fit and good fun. I understood about not wanting to be obligated and what he was offering was pretty attractive. He had the money with him and had booked a nice hotel pretty sure I would say yes.”
“So my second sugar date turned out to be my first escort encounter. I was not worried by this but it certainly made the so called difference between escorting and sugaring seem pretty tiny.”
“That was two years ago. I still see this guy once every couple of months. But I left my sugar baby ad up and it has worked out pretty well. I find most of the sugar daddies who can actually afford an allowance are happy to have a girl for a while. But “a while” can be as short as a month. Then, all of a sudden, they would have their company get re-organized or a big bill would come in and that was the end of my allowance.”
“Not fun. So, to protect myself I always try to have a couple of sugar daddies at the same time. And, very discreetly, I have done a little advertising as an escort. I am really choosy but I like to have a couple of dates a week when my sugars are not around.”
“If I am honest I know there is, for me at least, no real difference between sugaring and escorting. Which is fine. I like the money coming both ways.”
Carmen, a vivacious brunette in her early twenties who spoke to us from Houston, tells a completely different story.
“I actually got into sugaring after escorting for a year. I won’t say I hated escorting. It was a bit fun some of the time but you never knew if you were going to get a call or if the guy who wanted to book you was OK. I screened of course. But the other thing was that the cops in Houston were really down on escorts. And not just street girls. They set up stings and were just looking to arrest girls for nothing. They never got me but it made the whole escorting thing riskier for the girls and for guys looking for a girl.”
“The whole sugar baby thing seemed a lot safer. First off, you got to meet the potential sugar daddy without any expectations you know. Just go and have a couple of drinks with a guy. He checks you out, you check him out.”
“You have to be careful on the sugar sites. They are really harsh with escorts. Which is ok if you know what you are doing and take a look at the ads from the other girls. I like to look a little sexy but I dialed it way back for my sugar ads.”
“So I was still escorting when I hooked up with my first sugar daddy. He was a nice guy, mid thirties, married and making way too much money. He liked to take me shopping for shoes, then lingerie and, for a treat a nice dress or a bag or something. And he totally got the allowance thing. He wanted me to have a nice, safe apartment. So that was good.”
“I was with him for nearly four months and then, well then he wanted to move on. You don’t think about that when you sugar. The thing was that I had pretty much given up my escorting business. Big mistake.”
“All of a sudden I had to make my rent but, instead of the $900 I’d been paying I had $1800 to come up with. Not fun. I had a couple of potential sugar daddies sort of circling around but that was not going to hit rent. So, I got in touch with a couple of my old escorting regulars and, delightfully enough, they were happy to hear from me.”
“I then discovered something I had thought was true but had never really been sure. I saw one of my escorting regulars in a downtown hotel. I wore a nice dress my now former sugar daddy had bought for me, some really pretty shoes and I carried a great bag. I had been getting my hair nicely cut and my manicure was pretty perfect. But, more than anything else, I had been to this hotel with my sugar daddy and the barman – who was really good at the job – remembered me. So I sat and waited for my date who, expecting the old me, walked right past where I was sitting. I called him.”
“He told me he honestly did not recognize me. Being a guy he really couldn’t explain why but the whole package was way different. And he was right. And he gave me a huge tip. And booked a week later.”
“I saw my other regular at my new apartment. Now, I am not saying my old apartment was a dump; but it was nothing like this. Just a one bedroom with minimal furniture. But a really nice black leather couch and chair and a great coffee table. Bedroom was just that: a bed side table, a gorgeous piece of black and white art over the bed and that was it. All very simple, all screaming money.”
“My regular was just amazed. He couldn’t get over the view and the security and the whole vibe of the place. I was wearing another up market outfit my sugar daddy had bought me and, honestly, I looked right at home. My date remarked, “You’ve come up in the world, I hope your prices haven’t doubled.” They hadn’t but he gave me quite a tip and he booked for two weeks later.”
“Which got me to thinking. I definitely wanted to keep sugaring. But I was never going to find myself looking at rent without a guarantee. So, rather than trying to pick only one of my sugar suitors I decided to pick both. Not too hard to do. And I decided to keep replying to the more interesting sugar ads. I had to take my own down because sugar daddies get totally paranoid if they see you advertising. Even though they are on the sugar daddy site themselves to find your replacement.”
“But I also decided to keep seeing a few of my old escorting regulars. Plus, I did put up a very discreet ad for gentlemen visiting Houston. And for those “new” clients I took my regulars’ advice and raised my rates…A lot.”
It all takes a bit of juggling but, honestly, if you treat your sugars with a firm hand they stick around longer. They each have their evening and one weekend day a month. Regulars book well in advance, out of state visitors have an evening on the town and a happy ending. It’s all manageable. Not to mention lucrative.
“I’d never escort.” said April a 32 year old sugar baby in Orlando. “Never. I have my gentlemen callers whom I suppose you might call sugar daddies but our arrangements are entirely different.”
We wondered if April was entirely getting the distinction between escorting and sugaring. “Of course I do. Escorting means that you take money from men who will then expect things to move on to activities between consenting adults. None of my gentlemen have any such expectation.”
“Of course, I am a friendly girl and I like to see my gentleman happy. But you sure as Hell can’t just phone me up and pop over a quickie. No, I take my sugaring seriously. I expect a gentleman to make his contribution monthly and I expect him to be generous.”
“I do see a number of men. Each of them wants different things and I try to be accommodating. I don’t advertise but I do read ads gentleman place. If one catches my fancy I will get in touch and arrange a nice date. But I make it very clear, no “activities”. That’s just one of the things which makes me very different from any escort I know. And, I should add, I don’t discuss “activities” either. We might talk a bit about what they enjoy when they are with a girl but I don’t say a thing.”
“The way I see it sugar daddies come in all shapes and sizes. One might want to see you three times a week, another is more than happy to spend time just twice a month. I don’t for a second pretend I am exclusive. And everyone has to wear a party hat. And, as you can figure out yourself, a sugar daddy who wants to take up a lot of my time will wind up paying a lot more than a gentleman who would like to spend a Sunday evening once in a while. However, it is a little more complicated than that because I don’t set any “rate”. That would be much too much like an escort. Instead I make it clear to my gentlemen that a lady has certain needs and she very much appreciates having them taken care of. I never have a problem.”
“One other big difference, my sugars almost never stop. I mean I am still seeing the second man I ever went on a sugar date with and that was nearly eight years ago. My gentlemen are loyal and I aim to keep them that way.”
For Julia, a mid twenties blonde from the suburbs of Philadelphia there is very little distinction between sugaring and escorting.
“I have a nice, comfortable, mid-range escorting business in the burbs. Lots of married guys who like to have a bit of extra fun once in a while and are willing to pay for it. I am all about “discreet, no drama, no regrets” experiences and, frankly, I am good at what I do.”
“I do a little advertising which keeps a steady stream of new clients coming in but I am choosy. And I love my regulars. What I love about my regulars is that I know them. I have checked them out. I know what they like and I am good at making sure they leave with a smile on their face and a promise to be back soon.”
“With new escort clients there is always the hassle of screening and then the fact that when they arrive at my place they don’t know me and I don’t know them. Which can be, let’s face it, awkward. I’ve done this long enough that I get through it but I don’t love it.”
“Here’s the thing: the whole sugar daddy world is set up so that you can spend some time looking for guys you think might work for you. Yes, you still have to screen and there are plenty of time wasters and cheapskates. But a bit of emailing back and forth sorts them out pretty well.”
“I don’t tell them I escort. I mean escorts are prohibited on the sugar sites. But I don’t tell them because it would spoil the illusion they are buying. At the same time having my escorting income means I can be a lot tougher about things like allowances and how often they can see me. I like the sugar money but I don’t depend on it.”
“I dress well both escorting and sugaring. I am pretty enough that with a nice pair of heels and a kiss of make-up I turn heads. Sugar daddies always seem to want to meet in mid-range restaurants which, I suppose, in the burbs is pretty much what there is. But I like a little more commitment and there are a couple of great places not too far from where I live. One French, one Italian. I put on a pretty little Donna Karan black knit dress which gives a fairly good hint of what is on offer and do the date. I can usually tell in five minutes whether a guy it sugar daddy material. In my escorting business I am only concerned with whether a guy has the money that particular date will cost him. With a sugaring arrangement, I am looking for a serious allowance. Watching how a man orders dinner and wine gives me a pretty good hint. So do the old signals of shoes, watch and if he’s smart, tie.
I reserve one night a week for sugar. The rest of the week I am escorting but I don’t see escort clients on the night I see my sugar daddy. I like to have time to bathe, choose a pretty dress, make-up and be ready. Now I like to do the same thing for my escort dates but I often don’t have the time.
So far I have only had one sugar daddy at a time but I can see how easy it would be to cut my escorting back a little more and have two. Economically, it would be a little less money but, in theory, more stable money.
“I think of the whole escorting vs. sugaring thing as a bit bogus. Frankly, your escorting clients and your sugar daddy are visiting you for much the same thing. One is buying wholesale, the other retail. I suppose the “nice” girls of the world would like to have their sugar and eat it to. I’m a realist. Men enjoy what I have to offer. How they chose to pay for it is entirely up to them.
Over time I can see myself moving away from the escorting business and more into the sugaring world. But I’d keep as many of my regulars as I could. You never know when a sugar daddy is going to bail.