July 22, 2020
Issue 08

Sugaring in a pandemic

Tess Patrick investigates how being a ‘sugar baby’ can work for students that are too busy for the traditional graveyard hospo shifts.  

When a friend told me about her change of career over a few glasses of wine last week, not one part of me was surprised. She has always had the confidence, the allure and the oozing sexuality to make being a sugar baby seem effortless. But they have often seemed like mythical creatures and I wanted to know more.

It sounds easier than it is. Everyone knows somebody who gets to take a rich businessman’s credit card into the shops while he waits out the front… But the industry couldn’t keep up with everyone wanting some sugar of their own. It’s not fair to say nobody wants to do sex work, because there are many that do and they deserve our support - but there are just as many workers who have been prompted to consider the prospects after they’ve been left with nowhere else to turn.

I remember the great Sugar Baby saga of 2014, where one article went viral and all of a sudden everyone had a Seeking Arrangements profile. That year alone saw 1.5 million students register in the search for someone to ‘mentor’ them. But like any market infiltration, it drove down value and many sex workers were left without opportunities and fair wages.

As I see friends tackling postgraduate degrees and 10-week-long placements with full time hours, the opportunity for a casual job doesn’t exist. Couple this with the fact that the first jobs to go when Covid-19 hit were those traditionally held by students (hospitality, retail), you’ve got a breeding ground for a sugar baby boom. But what about finding work in the midst of a global pandemic and a nursing placement? My friend is absolutely thriving, and I wanted to pick her brains some more.

What got you into the whole sugar baby scene?

Unfortunately, especially being a student, I wasn’t able to afford to live the life that I wanted to live, you know? This has given me an opportunity to be able to do things and have experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to do without it.

What does a normal working week look like for you?

A normal working week, I work as a student nurse - I still work my normal hours shift working at work, and then I will generally either before or after work I will make some things for my clients to be able to have throughout their day or at the end of the day. I basically make something that I know they will enjoy and then I just go about my own life, it really doesn’t interrupt too much of my normal life.

What’s the going rate these days?

For just a plain meet-up, it would be $500, for anything sexual $1000 minimum, and then online content for a video it’s between $100-$150, but I have regular clients that pay $200 a week and I just send them stuff every day, so I have a weekly arrangement. I just pretty much tell them how [much] I want, and that they need to transfer it to this bank account or through a third-party app that they can wire money without having any details about the other person.

What are some of the craziest situations that you’ve ended up in? Or most ridiculous requests you’ve had?

I’ve been talking to this one guy regularly and I’ve been definitely leading him on and now he thinks we are completely in love and I am the wallpaper of his office computer background and he can literally see me in his office where there’s a whole other heap of 60-year-olds and they’re all admiring me and I’m his baby. The worst thing I have ever received is the most unsolicited, horrific dick pic I have ever seen in my life. It was that absolutely putrid I can’t describe.

Do you get off on it too, or is it strictly work?

I do get off on it too, especially the guys’ attention and the amount of energy they give you and the support is something attractive about that that you don’t get in other relationships. I definitely get off on it. Would I say that I fall in love with them? No, but I definitely am enjoying it right now.

Is sugar babying a long-term thing for you or just an interim uni job?

It’s just definitely a short term thing for me, just until I can be my own boss and have enough money to live the life that I want to live. My long, unpaid days with study and placement definitely influenced my decision to do this. Like I couldn’t work on the weekends anymore, I was too exhausted, so this is just something that can slot in nice and easy, into my life that isn’t taking too much time. And I can still live my educated life and no one has to know that I’ve got this on the side.

Lots of people have conflicting feelings and opinions on sex work and how it relates to feminism - how does this resonate with you?

I don’t really know how it relates to feminism to be totally honest. I think it’s empowering for me personally and that it’d be really fucking nice to have control over your own body and nobody telling you that it’s wrong or right. I think there’s definitely still a stigma, like I wouldn’t go telling just anybody because it is something that is so personal and people don’t agree with, but I think that everybody should have a right to their own body and - fuck, men do it too. There are so many men online doing this and it’s not just a matter of feminism, it’s to all people and to their sexuality and being open about it. So what I really think is that people should only really have opinions about things that they are engaging in and if not, just let people be free and have sex with whoever they want to have sex with.

What else should people know before jumping into this alluring world?

I’m terrified of work finding out. I take steps to ensure my privacy, anyone should be doing that, but I do work in a public setting so it can be quite nerve racking. And my family, I have no idea what would happen if they found out. But this is my life for now, and I wouldn’t change it.