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All the news that’s fit to print from the New York Times: “Sugar baby” trades sex for money, gets stiffed, passes herself off as feminist victim of being “stigmatized”

October 16, 2018
Photo: New York Times
Updated version of Sister Carrie? Cautionary tale on the pitfalls of signing up to have a sugar daddy? Advice column for pick-up artists on how to get girls to pay you to have sex with them?
Or: How to be a prostitute but dress it up with some fancy feminist-jargon justification?
Living up to its motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” the New York Times tells the story of Chandler Fowles (the name sounds made-up, and I hope for her sake that it is), the naïf from Mystic, Connecticut who comes to the Big Apple to make her way amid the shiny lights of Broadway and the glitz of Fifth Avenue:

Her degree in art history and fine arts from Eastern Connecticut State University wasn’t helping her land any job worth sticking around for. She was coming out of a tough breakup. She and her mother weren’t speaking at all after a particularly bad argument.

When you are 24 years old, jobless, boyfriend-less and in a fight with your mom, moving to one of the most glamorous, ballyhooed cities in the world can seem like a good idea….

[S]he ended up sharing a three-bedroom apartment with two other roommates across the Hudson River, in Jersey City, N.J. She got a retail job at a clothing store in Midtown that paid her $15 an hour and a commission of 1.5 percent of her sales. The cost of living (and partying) was more than she could manage, along with her $25,000 in college student loan debt.

Jersey City? $25,000 in student loans? I love art myself, but….

So our heroine decides that what she really needs is a super-rich new boyfriend to “pamper” her, take her out to fancy Manhattan restaurants, and help her pay her bills:

She signed up on SeekingArrangement.com, a website that helps people interested in monetized dating find each other. Sugar daddies (and some sugar mommies) pay monthly fees of $99 a month, which allows them unlimited access to the profiles of sugar babies, who join the website for free.

Rest assured, though, that Seeking Arrangement is not a front for commercial carnality:

In an interview with The Times, Brandon Wade, the founder of SeekingArrangement, said his dating platform, which he has rebranded as Seeking, is not a vehicle for prostitution. The terms of service, he said, prohibit transactions for sex; the site simply seeks to bring the role that money plays in mating out in the open.

Soon enough:

[T]here was another man who took her to dinner in Midtown, after which they got a room at the CitizenM hotel. (He liked that hotel, she said, because you can book a room online and then check in at an unmanned electronic kiosk.) “It was very natural and it felt like a normal hookup, except he gave me money after,” she said. Nine hundred bucks, to be precise.

Yeah, all that dorky old boyfriend in Mystic ever did was split the rent and pop for a movie every once in a while.

Then, whom does she meet online, but “Jay,” a really cool guy who says he works at Bain (ha ha! Mitt Romney’s old firm!) and wants to “spoil” her?

On the phone, “Jay” said that his name was really Ron, and that he had enjoyed a long-term sugar arrangement with a young woman who had recently moved away to attend graduate school in Michigan. He had paid her at least $1,000 per encounter, Ms. Fowles said he told her — more than the going rate.

“I was like, ‘Wow, that’s so generous,’” she said.

They were going to meet that very night, but something — his jet lag from a trip to London, or maybe it was her menstrual cycle — got in the way.

And Jay–or Ron, rather–is truly one cool guy, because on the second phone call he manages to set up this:

He asked her if she had a friend to bring along, whom he would pay the same amount. Discussions about the money were explicit but what it would buy him was never directly stated. “It was all, ‘I promise to make sure you have a good time,’” she said.

A sugar threesome!

Ms. Fowles called a friend who was reluctant but needed the money. She sent Ron a few pictures of the friend, the three of them got on the phone, and then Ron and the friend spoke directly. They picked a date, a Tuesday afternoon at the end of March. Ms. Fowles felt an urgency to make it all happen.

“My rent was due,” she said.

Ron said the three of them should meet at a hotel of Ms. Fowles’s choice, near the Jay Street-MetroTech subway station in Downtown Brooklyn. He said he wanted to meet midday, in between a lunch meeting and a dinner meeting. He asked Ms. Fowles to book the room. “My last sugar baby took care of all the details which took pressure off of me,” he told her. “She was like a personal assistant.”

He also told Ms. Fowles how he would like her and her friend to look. “I like when a girl gets all dolled up for me,” he said. He wanted them to wear thongs and high heels. Heavy makeup. He specifically requested “a smoky eye” and “a nude lip.”

“Get your hair done, I’ll obviously pay you back,” Ms. Fowles said he told her. So she and her friend went to Drybar for blowouts and met him in the lobby of the Aloft hotel, where Ms. Fowles had gotten a room for about $200. He was in grubby clothes and did not look like he had just come from a lunch meeting. He said he had run home after lunch to change into comfortable clothes.

Mmm, we don’t have to read any further to know what happened next. But here’s a little bit:

[H]e said he wanted to pay her and her friend via the PayPal app. He told Ms. Fowles he could write off the expense if he paid it digitally. Ms. Fowles didn’t have the PayPal app on her phone. So she downloaded it, and then Ron showed her how to request payment for $2,500 (including the cost of the hotel room and the blowouts). He then pulled out his phone, said he was accepting the request as he tapped away at his screen….

It wasn’t until she got on the subway and looked at PayPal that she saw her payment request had been ignored.

Oh, Ron, you scamp! Of course his real name wasn’t Ron, either, and he didn’t work at Bain or any other investment firm (he was actually an NYU student)–and he was married with children. He was also telling the same story under the same name, “Jay,” on Tinder about his former girlfriend now in grad school in Michigan. And I’ve got to give Ms. Fowles some credit for cleverness: Working through yet another friend who agreed to meet the Tinder “Jay” at a Brooklyn bar, she managed to find out Jay’s/Ron’s real name. She never did get him to reimburse her for that hotel room, although not for want of trying.

As Ron told the New York Times:

He said that he looked for women on SeekingArrangement and advertised himself on Tinder as a “sugar daddy” — his profile urged women to “swipe right if looking to be spoiled” — solely because he thought it was a good way to meet women for non-transactional hookups.

The denouement of the Tale of the Free Threesome:

Ms. Fowles has washed her hands of sugar-dating, hoping to pursue a career in personal styling.

Mmm. You might view this Chaucerian yarn as an example of quintessential female weakness: the readiness with which young women prostitute themselves if the price looks right and the man looks rich enough. A confluence of female failings, perhaps: laziness, greed, extravagance, trading on your looks instead of wanting to work for a living.

But you’d be wrong. What Fowles’s story is all about is feminist empowerment:

“Women are stigmatized and seen as repulsive and worthless when using their bodies to support themselves,” she said. “I was in a tough place financially, and I am O.K. with my decisions. Women have sex with vile men all the time so why shouldn’t we be paid for it if we choose? I don’t deserve to be shamed for it, or scammed because of it.”

Talk about “personal styling”!

 

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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One Comment
  1. Harry W permalink

    It seems to me a legitimate concern that women have no recourse to hold men like this accountable. Ron shouldn’t walk scot free back into the classroom. I’m betting Ron has multiple victims too, probably preys on many naive young women struggling to make ends meet. Chandler and her friend were both clever, and I have to give her credit for destroying her reputation just to bring this creep down.

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