Refined Sugar: Paying For Love In 2013

When I published my second novel, Bought, I was anxious to promote it. The book was my attempt to fictionalize a lot of research I’d done for a magazine story about hookers and also a way to examine the lives of women who weren’t quite prostitutes because they didn’t, say, spread their legs for wads of cash but nevertheless allowed men to pay their bills. I was fascinated by the double standard that exists—the way women judge other women for pursuing such a lifestyle when nearly every female alive participates in this dynamic in some form or another.

It seemed, at first, a lucky break that my book release coincided with the economic crash of the late aughts, because women were turning to means of survival they hadn’t previously considered. Suddenly I started to hear about websites that actually connected these women with potential benefactors. So Bought got a lot of publicity, if not a lot of sales—who wants to buy books when they’re losing their jobs?—and in the process of promoting it, I came into contact with a number of these women.

Now, while the book industry has continued to self-destruct, the business of mostly younger, attractive women being subsidized by mostly older, wealthy men has only flourished, as have the websites helping the two parties find one another. No, really. Brandon Wade, the MIT-educated founder of Seeking Arrangement and three other portals—What’s Your Price, Seeking Millionaire and MissTravel—reports that his sites raked in $10 million in 2012 alone.

That caught my attention. So I decided to dive back into this topic, with a modern, digital twist. Over the next three weeks, I’ll be exploring the online Sugar Daddy/Sugar Baby phenomenon from three diverse points of view: the Sugar dating site proprietors, the Sugar Daddies and, last but not least, the Sugar Babies themselves. Without further ado, here we go. Read more on MadeMan…