In a recent article in Men's Health, writer Alison Bonaguro talked to a real life sugar daddy. In the piece, Bonaguro asks John (which I guess his real name) about the difference between sugar daddy/sugar babies, and prostitution.
Aside from the technicalities, the amount of money John (and sugar daddies) spend on their sugar babies is super-steep.
In the interview, Bonaguro says, "Let's do some math. If you pay each girl $1,000 for a visit, and you're seeing the on-average three times a month, that comes to $36,000 a year. And you're seeing a few girls at once so it's costing you around $70,000 per year."
John replies, "Wow. It really adds up, right? I don't tell my accountant that. And that would just be the minimal side of it without taking them out and flying them in, and all the other expenses. It could really rack up. I hate to think this, but it's probably about $100,000."
On Seeking Arrangements, a sugar daddy/baby website, they try to clear up the confusion, saying that a call girl isn't an interchangeable word for a sugar baby, along with four reasons to support their claim:
1. Sugar daddies and sugar babies have an on-going relationship, but a prostitute and her customer have a transaction.
The prostitute and her client meet, he pays her, and she services him in some way. It's her job and he's her customer. But what if he's a regular customer? Does he not have a type of relationship with his call girl?
John says, "I'm not picking a girl up off the street. It's not like I'm getting a street hooker." So, I guess sugar babies are like prostitutes, just not desperate ones?
2. "Sugar" is a lifestyle choice, not a business.
A sugar baby is a woman who wants to date financially secure men who can help provide her with the lifestyle she desires. She can be picky about who she dates; a prostitute can't be as selective. Prostitution is a high-risk occupation, especially when it comes to crime, sexually transmitted diseases, and abuse by clients and pimps.
Anonymous from Thought Catalog says, "We are, whether you admit it or not, business women. We've made a business of what we can offer and figured out how to turn our beauty or personalities or ability to emotionally detach into serious money."
When asked if John goes on dates with his sugar babies, he says, "It varies, but usually, really it's not a social thing."
3. You "date" a sugar baby and "hire" a prostitute.
Prostitutes are paid to perform a service, while sugar babies sometimes receive funds as an added benefit of dating a generous man. A john doesn't want a hooker to stick around, and a sugar daddy doesn't want his sugar baby to leave.
John says, "If I was in a normal relationship, there are more things to think about. With this, I know what the deal is. The girls know why I'm with them."
The anonymous sugar baby says, "We were smart to hustle, and get financial stability out of something that most people give away for free."
4. Sugar babies have less sugar daddies than prostitutes have clients.
This seems true, but John admitted to paying a number of girls at one time, and in Thought Catalog, Anonymous mentions that she has three right now. So, it seems as if neither sugar daddies nor sugar babies are exactly exclusive or monogamous.
In the end, I stay confused. I think sugar daddies and sugar babies can rationalize that what they're doing is far different than participating in the world's oldest profession, but it's certainly very similar.
Sugar babies may be more akin to the courtesans of the past than a street walker, but they're still trading their bodies for money.