I met him on a Tuesday night—back when I could only afford to eat once a day—through a “dating” app called Seeking Arrangement, which you can no longer find in the app store (I wonder why). Like most of the other conversations I’ve had through that app, it was pretty straight-forward. He wanted me to go over to his house, at around 10 PM, and he’d pay me $400. Although the word “sex” was never mentioned, it was implied, and I didn’t really mind. He was attractive and I was broke, so I took the six train down to Brooklyn and got off on Barclay’s Center at around 10 PM.
For an aspiring writer [who’s still in college and doesn’t even have a full-time day job] a tall, funny, smart, extremely attractive business owner, who can afford his own apartment in Union Square, is a catch. But, so is a 43-year-old (let's call him Andreas) living in the rich side of Brooklyn, who pays $400 a visit as well as a 34-year-old millionaire living in uptown Manhattan or a 42 year-old cop willing to pay $300 for a kiss. Although these four men have one thing in common (money) there’s one thing that sets the last three men apart from the first one.
The first man I mentioned, Mr. Union Square, was just a man I met on 17th street one night. The last three were all “sugar daddies” I’ve met in Manhattan. Sugar daddies are men willing to pay young women hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars for either sex or just company. These men have so much money that they don’t mind “sponsoring” or “mentoring” girls like me, or just women who like expensive gifts. I have acquired many stories thanks to my experiences with these men, but today I want to focus on the first one, Mr. Andreas from Brooklyn.
At the time, I was staying over at my best friend’s apartment, but she and my other best friend had left New York in order to go back to Puerto Rico and visit their families, which meant I was alone in this huge city. So in an effort to prepare myself for the worst case scenario, I told my closest friends where I was going. On my way over to his house, as I was smoking my calm-down cigarette, I passed a police precinct (and a surprising amount of drunk people). I realized, “well, my friends are out of town, but there’s police and drunken witnesses. If anything goes wrong, at least I have that.” I felt surprisingly calm.
Before I knew it, I was standing in front of one of those frosted glass doors. I saw the shadow of a man approaching from the other side. Mr. Andreas was a little bigger than I expected; he wasn’t ugly or gross, nor was he extremely handsome—he was fine. “Watch out for that bicycle,” he said, as I made my way up the stairs and into his home.
And it was huge. I mean, my mathematically-deficient brain immediately started calculating. The rent in New York is so high, you could end up paying around $2,000 for a studio and his apartment had three whole floors. And every single wall was covered in artwork—paintings, a mural covering one wall from the top of the high ceiling to the bottom, old musical instruments, DVDs, CDs. I’ll keep the details of what he does for a living to myself, but I can say he was an art man, successful in his day-job, and I was impressed.
So there I was, in rich Mr. Andreas’s three-floored apartment, “watching” some TV show about some comedian, talking about our lives. He was kind, respectful, and although perhaps he was anxious to get me in his bed, patient. After all, I had never been to a rich man’s apartment (for money) before, and he understood that. But then the wait was over, and he asked if I wanted to go upstairs to his bedroom. I said okay, because what else was I meant to say?
That’s when the nerves kicked in. As I walked up the stairs, I realized, I was actually expected to have sex with a man who was more than twice my age, for money. Of course, I felt a little dirty. I felt like I was supposed to feel dirty. The (sexist) society we live in depicts sex workers like strippers, prostitutes, and sugar babies as a group of troubled, desperate women, who have sex with disgusting men for a miserable amount of money.
But he wasn’t disgusting, and I wasn’t troubled. Desperate for money? Only a little bit, but he was also desperate for something. So I told him about my insecurity and he told me he just wanted me to feel comfortable.
“I did crazy things for money when I was around your age, too.” He told me in an effort to help me wrap my head around my own thoughts. That’s when it hit me. This is just a grown man, who wanted to feel the warm touch of a younger woman, and was willing to pay for it. I just happened to be the younger woman. He said “You’re free to go, if you don’t want to do this,” and I was…
And so I stayed. I stayed because I wanted to, because I liked him. Andreas was interesting and smart and pretty sympathetic. We decided, without words, to take things slow. I noticed some drawings, hanging on his bedroom wall, that looked like they had been painted by little kids—that’s when he confessed he had children. So, we talked about other things and he gave me a massage, and the massage lead to…
In an episode of Sex and the City, Samantha Jones said, “Money is power. Sex is power. Therefore, getting money for sex, is simply an exchange of power.” And she’s right. When you’re a sex worker (whether you’re sleeping with your client or not), you know you have power. Always. If the man offers you one thing, but you think you deserve something more, you can speak up. Just because they’re paying for sexual services, doesn’t make it okay for them to abuse of their power. Sex is power. Money is power. Getting money for sex is an exchange of power, not an abuse of it.
Suddenly, it was 11:40 PM. and I was dressed again. I didn’t feel gross or bad about myself afterwards. I didn’t do what I had to do. I wasn’t forced. I did what I wanted to do. It’s not something I enjoy talking about with strangers, though, because of the possible bias they might have (because of the sexist society in which we live in). We went back downstairs and I played with his cats and started tuning the ukulele he had lying around.
“You play the ukulele?” said Andreas, to which I replied “yes.” I realized, that’s the strange thing about an exchange of power. You might spend hours talking, but you never really know each other. The things I let him know about my life were not the same as the ones I would tell a regular guy on a regular date. Let me bring back Mr. Union Square from the first paragraph for a quick comparison. My date with Mr. Union Square was a date meant to get to know each other better. The purpose behind a date with a sugar daddy, essentially, is not to “get to know each other better.” It’s just an equally beneficial business deal disguised as a date. So, I got on a Lyft (he paid for) and went back home, $400 richer, looking for a place where I could do my nails the following day.