Ashley needs the income to pay her bills.
He needs someone to love him.
Their families don’t know about their online dating.
Ashley isn’t her real name, and she shared her story with KHTS AM-1220 on the basis of anonymity. But she certainly isn’t alone.
The Santa Clarita-raised, Hart district graduate is one of 4 million in the growing “sugar arrangements” industry — and one of more than 2,500 Santa Clarita Valley residents signed up for SeekingArrangement, according to data obtained from website.
Santa Clarita Online Dating
For both Ashley and Marissa, another Santa Clarita Valley native who tried to become involved in the “sugar dating” scene and spoke more candidly, their experiences in the “sugar world” began withfriends.
A sugar baby is a companion and partner for a sugar daddy. The sugar daddy, or less commonly sugar momma, reimburses the sugar baby with money, lavish vacations and gifts.
Sugar daddies and mommies are usually wealthy, “already used to being generous” and do not want atraditional relationship — some are married, said Angela Jacob Bermudo, public relations manager withSeekingArrangement, in a email to KHTS AM-1220. Sugar babies are “ambitious men and women who want to date generous and powerful partners.”
While some see the websites like SeekingArrangement as a way to find companionship, others believe the services are a form of legalized prostitution.
Whether “sugar arrangements” are a way for those too busy and too shy for traditional dating or an online outlet for the world’s oldest profession, the websites have clearly found a market catering to millions of people around the world.
“I had a friend in Los Angeles. She was signed up for SeekingArrangement. I thought it was interesting so I made an account,”
Ashley said. “I wanted extra income and the perks that came along with being a sugar baby. I already had a career in the film production industry.”
Ashley is a 25-year-old sugar baby from Santa Clarita. She now lives in West Los Angeles, where she’s pursuing a career in film production.
Ashley signed up for SeekingArrangement nearly a year ago and had arrangements with three sugar daddies — all of them single CEOs of their own companies and between the ages of 45 to 55, she said.
Her monthly allowance from her sugar daddies ranges between $3,000-$4,000 to meet about a couple times a month, which is about average for a sugar daddy-baby relationship.
“I always request half of the money at the beginning and half at the end, until you build the relationship,” Ashley said. “I always start negotiating while we’re messaging. What the budget is, when to meet, how often. Once that is out of the way, we go on one or two dates, just dates, until we both decide to move forward with arrangement.”
Of course, there are also perks, she said, like spa treatments, extra cash and fine dining.
And the perks go both ways. For sugar daddies, having a sugar baby is often an escape from reality.
“They want someone to go out with, some to listen, talk with, vent with and just have a good time,” Ashley said. “It’s a companionship escape.”
Part of the arrangement usually consists of spending time with the sugar daddy or momma, going out and having a nice dinner or even going away for a weekend. Ashley freely admitted she’s had a sexual relationship with all three men from SeekingArrangement.
But adding sex to the arrangement dances perilously close to the line of prostitution.
Under California Penal Code 647 (b), anyone who is found guilty of paying for of engaging in any act of prostitution will be charged with a misdemeanor.
Some of the websites that offer services similar to SeekingArrangements.com have policies that ban users from engaging in online prostitution — but physical intimacy often raises the monthly allowance in a sugar daddy or sugar momma arrangements, according to a report by CNN.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Unit typically handles cases involving prostitution and sex crimes. SVU detectives have not seen any L.A. cases involving sugar babies and sugar daddies who have met online, said Sgt. Marvin Jaramilla with the LASD Special Victims Unit.
“That’s not to say they’re not out there,” he added.
The LASD Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau eComm Triage Unit, a unit that handles cases that begin on social media, have not seen any reports of misuse or crime either.
Sheriff officials warn sugar babies to let a friend or family member know where they are going with their sugar daddies.
“Tell a friend the location where the meetup is happening, go on Google and find information about them, go to a very public place or going out with friends,” said Deputy Tony Moore with the eComm Triage Unit. “Be conscious about what information you’re giving out.”
Sugar babies have been given date rape drugs, like Rohypnol, and taken advantage of, Ashley said.
“Some sugar daddies will say they have this much money, the sugar baby will sleep with them and the sugar daddy will never pay them,” she said. “My only issue that I’ve ever had is men getting too attached.”
Ashley recently ended her last sugar arrangement because of this very reason and, for now, she continues to search for a new sugar daddy.
However, not everyone who uses the service is looking for a sexual relationship or take advantage of the sugar arrangement.
“On websites, such as SeekingArrangement, sex is not explicitly on the menu. Sugar babies do not always offer sex and sugar daddies do not always want sex,” said Dr. Chauntelle Tibbals, a former COC Sociology professor and author of “Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment.” “The important thing is that in terms of judgement, these are not arrangements for everyone. For the people who choose them, it’s very complicated.”
Marissa, 24, who also lives in Saugus and requested to remain anonymous, signed up for SugarDaddyForMe and began talking to two men within the first week.
At one point, she was talking to anywhere between 25-30 men, all over the age of 40.
“He expected me to provide sexual favors,” she said, referring to her first sugar arrangement date. “He was a very nice guy and charismatic.”
Her shock must have been apparent when her “date” began to talk business, she said.
On their first meetup, the 58-year-old lawyer from the San Fernando Valley, a divorcee with two children, was discussing the sexual arrangement he was seeking within 45 minutes.
“He wanted me to come over and spend the night twice a week when the kids were away. He said he had an extra Lexus that I could use when I was staying with him,” she said, adding that he requested sexual favors. “I told him I would think about it and never talked to him again.”
Marissa, who said she’s attracted to older men, was hoping to use the sugar daddy websites to find someone to date, she said.
She ended her use of the SugarDaddyForMe site after about six months.
However, still seeking an older man to date, she signed up for SeekingArrangment.com and eventually WhatsYourPrice.com.
On SeekingArrangement, she talked to about 15 men in their early to mid-40s.
When Marissa turned to WhatsYourPrice, she found a different dating scene.
“It is just short of prostitution,” Marissa said. “You have a profile and if someone ‘favorites’ you, they can place a bid to take you on a date.”
Marissa went on a date with one person fromWhatsYourPrice.
“He was really nice but when it came to the end of the date, I offered to pay for half of the bill,” she said. “He wanted to pay for the date and the dinner. I just couldn’t take the money.”
Many “seeking arrangements” are not just older men and young women, they range in age and most want a companionship, something that fulfills the needs or desires that the sugar daddy doesn’t have to fulfill or that a significant other could not fulfill.
While not as common, there are sugar mommas,male-sugar babies and homosexual sugar dating.
“We don’t see that gender balance,” Tibbals said. “You don’t see a lot of sugar mommas.”
“The stereotype of an older, creepy, strange guy with a lot of money is not always true. A lot of younger people, business people, shyer people, people with physical or mental disabilities use this services to access sex or a companionship,” Tibbals said, explaining the website’s intent.
Marissa doesn’t have anything positive to say about the sugar arrangement websites, adding several of the men she met on the sites were aggressive, almost to the point of harassment.
“(There’s) no legitimate dating site for older men and younger women,” she said.
Still, for most, sugar arrangement websites are a way to gain connections, companionship, a lover and an extra income.
“(These websites) capitalize on age and youth and that issue. You can look at it superficially as easy money and an autonomous measure of control. It’s the same as other occupations that rely on youth and sexiness,” Tibbals said. “It’s the same reason why someone might become a dancer or wait tables. It’s quick money. We don’t exactly have a stable economy and there is very little opportunity for (sugars babies, especially college students) to sustain themselves and make those advancements. A lot of times, this is just a social-sexual exchange that works with them.”
While Ashley has had a positive experience in the world of sugar arrangements, Marissa is more weary of her experiences.
“They already had an idea of what the arrangement would be,” Marissa said of her would-be suitors. “I tried to talk myself into it because I was hurting financially. Few were willing to go on an actual date.”
Photo courtesy of SeekingArrangement