Let’s start with the sex. That’s what they’ve been talking about all night, first in the restaurant and then in the condo perched high over the glittering lights of Atlanta. Jodie gets things started. “What time is it, guys?” Eleven p.m.
“It is so late!”
She has a philosophy final tomorrow on Meditations of René Descartes, which she pronounces Dez-car-tez.
Jodie is 20, or maybe she’s 18, depending on which version of the story you get. She has a supertight athlete’s body and a striking face with tiny blue eyes. She’s studying premed at a nearby college, hoping for a career in sports medicine. Kelly admits to 36 or 38, and like Jodie she is blonde but with the coarser beauty of Ellen Barkin. She’s a former computer executive turned real estate mini-mogul. Then there’s Jim, a retired banker who is 56 and amiable looking, still in possession of all his hair and not exactly svelte. Fat, in fact. “Jodie,” he asks, “what’s your schedule tonight? Do you need to—”
She does have a philosophy final tomorrow. He doesn’t want her feeling any pressure.
“No, no, no, no,” she says. She wants to stay. “But I have to get up early.”
So Jim pours more wine and says, “Enough small talk. Let’s go to bed.” But Kelly says she feels sweaty, so she and Jodie are going to take a shower together. “Why don’t you put on some porn,” Kelly says.
Porn. This is the fate of a man with two hot blondes who are definitely going to fuck him. So he puts on a video and strips off his clothes, and eventually Jodie and Kelly come back and start kissing and messing around, and finally Jim gets himself in there, playing with both of them a little and kissing Kelly, and then Jodie starts kissing Jim and the girls go down on each other and get the toys out, the vibrators. Jim puts on a condom because he always uses a condom with Jodie, then fucks her doggy style because that’s how she prefers him to do her. And when the right moment arrives, he takes the condom off and finishes inside Kelly, because she happens to be his wife. Then Jodie puts on her plaid flannel jammies and buckles down to do her homework.
Everyone’s happy: a man, his wife and their college-age girlfriend, who is definitely being compensated in a manner commensurate with her abilities. Or in SD/SB lingo, a sugar daddy, a sugar mama and their beautiful sugar baby. No jealousy, no lingering questions—except those pertaining to Meditations of Dez-car-tez.
Fortunately for Jim, Kelly and Jodie, we live in a revolutionary time when the internet has turbocharged the ancient concept of concubines and courtesans. There exists today a subculture of sugar daddies and sugar babies, complete with their own web-based meeting grounds and notions of morality. The basic tenet of sugar culture: There are wealthy men (and sometimes women) who love beauty and sex, and there are beautiful young women with a special feeling for older men willing to pay their college tuition or mortgage. It’s as simple as supply and demand as defined by economist Adam Smith.
The visionary entrepreneur who got this rolling was a guy named Brandon Wade, an extremely nerdy MIT software engineer who found himself in deep romantic pain as the 21st century began. Remembering the advice of his mother, who always told him he’d have more success with women if he worked hard and could afford to be “generous,” he noticed some sugar-daddy groups cropping up on Yahoo and decided to start a site of his own. His timing was brilliant. Two years after launching SeekingArrangement.com in 2006—in the midst of TV shows such as Millionaire Matchmaker and The Bachelor introducing mainstream America to the idea of attractive women competing for wealthy geeks—the financial crisis drove tens of thousands of young women to the website, looking for “arrangements” with wealthy men.
Today scores of other websites have jumped into the game, but Wade’s remains on top, with more than 250,000 active monthly members—30,000 sugar daddies and about 220,000 sugar babies. Sugar culture has caught mainstream attention; it has been covered by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Phil, New York magazine, The New York Times and the Huffington Post. The headline in U.S. News & World Report even found a microeconomic angle—SUGAR DADDY DATING: A VERY PERSONAL STIMULUS. As Wade expands his multimillion-dollar empire, he is hosting sugar parties in posh hotels and launching new websites, including SeekingMillionaire.com and MissTravel.com.
“In the past, you had to be quite wealthy,” he says. “Now you just have to make six figures and have enough left over for a lavish dinner and a weekend trip.”
All of this beams an X-ray through the vexing question of money and its relationship to sex. As Jim puts it, when you grow up rich, you learn there’s a financial aspect to every relationship. “The only difference is that in sugar relationships,” he explains, “the negotiation occurs up front.”
Jim is a pillar of his community; only his closest confidants know of his taste for sugar, which is fine by him.
“I’ve got it pretty good,” Jim says. “I can’t complain.”
“Yeah, you got a pretty good lifestyle,” his sugar baby, Jodie, says.
“It’s not bad,” his wife, Kelly, says.
“It’s not bad,” Jodie says.
“It’s not bad,” Jim agrees.
Fun is the operative word. Jodie loves it when they pull up to a restaurant in the Rolls. The door pops open, she says, and out comes sugar mama Hot Kelly with her long legs. Then the seat flips down and out comes sugar baby Jodie. And the valets go nuts.
Kelly laughs. “See, I like her because she always refers to me as Hot Kelly. This girl is better than a Brazilian butt lift. She makes me feel like a million bucks.”
“I love it,” Jodie says.
“I love it,” Kelly says.
“I get off on it,” Jodie says.
“I get off on it,” Kelly says.
Jim sits there like a pasha on his throne. Yes, he gets off on it too. He explains: “If I walk into a popular bar in Atlanta as a normal person, there are going to be 10 or 20 gorgeous women there. What chance do I stand to attract them? None. In the normal world, they’re in short supply. But in the sugar-daddy world, how many multimillionaires are there who are looking for those girls? One or two. So for one multimillionaire there are 10 or 20 beautiful girls.” He smiles. “I’m in short supply.”
How did Jodie, a college student who had a “strict, strict, strict” upbringing, arrive at this place?
Jodie grew up in the suburbs of Boston, the daughter of a computer programmer who stayed on Jodie’s back all the time about making good grades. Her dating life was limited to a single boy who had to submit to an old-fashioned paternal interrogation. “My family’s like, ‘You need to find one and just stick with him and that’s it,’?” Jodie says. When her parents told her they couldn’t afford another year of college, she knew she’d have to get a job to help pay for tuition. Jodie takes her premed studies seriously.
Shortly afterward, she met a girl who had a sugar daddy. The girl said all she did was walk around in her underwear and read books to a rich guy, and Jodie couldn’t help thinking, God, that sounds so nice; maybe I’ll find some really old guy and read him books in my underwear. When she got home, she went straight to Google and typed, “Where can I find a sugar daddy?”
She found the Seeking Arrangement website. It can’t hurt to sign up, Jodie told herself. It would be her secret, a dirty little secret nobody would guess in a million years, so glamorous and…bad.