Wade similarly faults male customers for falling into blackmail schemes. DuPont heir Stephen Dent used Seeking Arrangement to find women he called "slaves" and paid $15,000 for hotel sex sessions. Three women blackmailed him in 2008 and 2009, threatening to send photos and emails to his wife and employees unless he forked over some of his $100 million fortune. Dent eventually went to the police, and the women were caught.

"He was asking for it," Wade says. "At the end of the day, you tend to attract what you are looking for."

Wade points out that these problems aren't limited to Seeking Arrangements. Indeed, earlier this year, a Las Vegas man met what he thought was a hot, blond, Florida coed on sugardaddyforme.com. They exchanged nude photos, and the man sent her $7,000 to help pay for school.

Illustration by Joseph Laney
Illustration by Joseph Laney

In reality, however, Stephanie Starling was neither hot nor blond. Instead, she had sent photos of a porn star she found online. And when the sugar daddy stopped sending her money, Starling threatened to send his dick pics — which were real — to his wife and boss. The man sent another $1,200, but Starling demanded even more. "I will never fucking stop until I get my money or you die," she texted him.

The sugar daddy finally went to the FBI, who tracked Starling's emails to her house in Jacksonville and arrested her. Her trial has yet to begin, but in a four-page, handwritten confession, Starling explained that she had taken to catfishing men because she was "struggling to pay bills and feed" her child. "I'm in college aspiring to become a dentist," she wrote.

Rachel has had a few close calls, often when hard drugs are involved. "One older white guy asked me if I wanted to do crack with him," she says. "When I didn't, he called on the phone and told me I was a 'nappy-haired bitch' and the n-word.

"If you are really playing with people, there can be a good ending or a bad ending," she says. "If you don't cut it off before it gets too serious, you're in trouble."

Now, she carries a bottle of Mace with her on dates and always texts the address to a friend. "I have homeboys," she says. "Let's just say, if anything happened to me, that person would be paid a visit."

Florida law defines prostitution as "the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire." Courts have ruled, however, that as long as the women on sites like Seeking Arrangement are providing services other than sex — even something as ambiguous as "companionship" — then Brandon Wade has nothing to worry about. His quickly expanding internet empire may be ethically questionable, but it's legally legit. Wade is simply matching supply and demand, he argues. And what could be more American than that?

But sugar babies say Wade's website takes a subtle toll. Sooner or later, the sweet life turns bitter.

Becoming a sugar baby is "probably financially a much better decision than taking on huge student loans," says Laurie Essig, the Middlebury professor. "Although emotionally, the costs may be too high."

Brittney, for instance, recently met a man outside of the website whom she adores. But she has to hide her secret life.

"The worst part is that I'm actually in love with him, but I can't tell him the truth," she says. "It's like this big ball of fire in my life. He still hasn't found out about it. I don't know if it's him not paying attention or if he just trusts me completely."

And yet, Brittney still won't give up the game. "I keep on doing it and doing it," she says. "This is how I am working my way towards a house or ice cream or dinner.

"Being a sugar baby does make you feel like you can select whatever millionaire you want," she admits. "But I don't feel like it's the type of power someone should have. It's an immoral power."

Perhaps it's no surprise that in a city with 10 percent unemployment, where college graduates need 20 years to pay off their student loans, Brittney has chosen practicality over principles. She says she'd be stupid to stop sugar babying, but she still longs for an era in which she never had to start. "I wish it was the '70s, when you could still meet someone in normal places," she says, "like the library."

Jenny, the pre-med student, has also given up on romance. "I feel like a boyfriend wouldn't understand that I needed space and time," she says. "I'm just too busy with school and work. I kind of don't give anyone a chance."

Instead, she sticks to her sugar daddies, even when she has to share them with other women. "I just want to finish school," Jenny says. "They are the only ones who could help me do that."

"I wouldn't be doing this if school weren't so expensive," she adds. "But I have this future planned out for myself. If anything comes between me and that, all hell will break loose."

"Obviously, if these women had access to higher education at reasonable rates and livable wage jobs, they might not be sugar babies," argues Essig. "Just as obviously, if we didn't live in a culture where women are considered commodities to be bought and sold, there wouldn't be such a website. So yes, [it's] patriarchy. But also a society where the American Dream has disappeared to anyone who is not born wealthy."

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My Voice Nation Help

It's prostitution, whores!  This is the what the parents in Florida have done to their children and the whole system in Florida is corrupted! This will catch up to them and bite them later in their careers.


Where is the site for young male college students to get money from Cougies?

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Would not Prostitution ... by any other name ... taste as sweet?