Sugar baby’s lifestyle paid for her rent and uni
A MELBOURNE sugar baby who has been paid $50,000 by a series of wealthy men with a fetish for spoiling young women says she wouldn't have been able to afford her rent and university fees otherwise.
"Samantha", originally from New Zealand, is currently studying teaching at Monash University while working full-time. The 26-year-old earns $60,000 a year and pays $1800 a month in rent, but says due to being an overseas student, she pays upfront fees of between $8500 to $10,000 per semester.
For the past couple of years she has used controversial "sugar dating" website Seeking Arrangement to connect with older men, who have lavished her with expensive meals and clothing, an allowance and even holidays.
"The most outrageous thing was a four-day weekend away in Bali, I was paid $8000 for that plus all expenses paid as well," she said.
"Yes, you do have sex but it's not expected of you. This is what people want to know. You don't have to but you tend to find you develop these relationships, a lot are superficial but you still have a friendship connection."
Samantha said it "took a while" for her. "It's just like dating," she said. "For me personally if I was dating somebody I wouldn't just jump straight into sex. I'd see them for a while, form some emotional connection, it's the same in this case."
According to Seeking Arrangement, there are currently 150,000 student "sugar babies" in Australia earning an average monthly "allowance" of $3000.
The website was thrust into the spotlight late last year when "sugar baby" Amy Keating brought down the career of married Nationals MP Andrew Broad by revealing embarrassing details of a Hong Kong rendezvous to New Idea.
Samantha, who has lived in Australia for the past 10 years, said for her it "initially it started off as a bit of a joke".
"A few years ago me and my mates were reading these articles in magazines about these sugar babies thinking, 'Oh my god, that's hilarious,'" she said. "We went online and it was like, 'Oh my god, this actually exists.'"
She set up a profile but got cold feet, only coming back to it a few years ago. "You can say it's a bit like Tinder, you set yourself up a profile, say what you're looking for," she said.
"For me it was assistance with uni payments, travel, stuff like that - and a bit about yourself and that kind of thing. The profiles for the men are really different, they talk about how much they make, their net worth."
She met her first date in person after only a few weeks.
Since then she has had "five or six" sugar daddies, with the longest relationship lasting about eight months. "Most of them were old, but then there were a couple of quite young guys who were quite affluent, they had made a lot of money young," she said.
"It's a weird situation and it's never really felt normal, because it isn't normal, it's really taboo. But if it's mutual and everyone's got respect and everything's on the table, you feel much more comfortable."
Her main request was "usually an allowance to help with university fees". "I had to do the calculations recently, over the past couple of years I've managed to get about $50,000," she said. "I don't think I would have been able to pay my fees and rent without it."
Samantha said there were generally two types of people on the site.
"The people who are on there essentially treating it like an escort service, 'I'm paying you, you do what I say', and the traditional sugar baby thing, 'I just want to have a noncommittal relationship with someone but spoil them as well'," she said.
"I guess you'd call it a fetish, they just want to spoil someone with money."
The former type, the "people who talk to you and treat you like a prostitute", were "culled really fast" from the site, she said, as were actual sex workers.
"The whole point is seeing people on your terms, so you don't have to do anything you don't want to," she said. "It's pretty upfront, you maybe meet them once and then set up an arrangement from there for pocket money or whatever."
She says she understands why some people call it prostitution. "I totally get that, I totally get people saying that," she said.
"I guess you could look at it like that, but I guess you could also look at it like someone providing a service - having a girlfriend around, someone to spoil because spoiling them makes you happy."
She added, "One hundred per cent I totally get the prostitute thing. It can definitely be linked to that, but personally I don't see it that way."