Former sugar baby Cybill Quinn’s experiment with a sugar daddy dating website saw her enjoy numerous all-expenses-paid rendezvous with a suite of wealthy businessmen, including a real estate chief executive, the high-flying head of a global non-profit and a politically connected industry board chairman.
A sugar baby is usually a young woman or man who exchanges their company with a sugar daddy for money, or lavish gifts. The daddy is traditionally an older, wealthy and successful man.
While sugar babies and their daddies have been operating largely undetected for decades, their world was thrust into the public eye this week after a sugar baby made allegations against Nationals MP Andrew Broad.
The federal member for the Victorian seat of Mallee announced on Tuesday he would not stand for Parliament at the next election, after New Idea published allegations he used the services of a website to organise a sugar baby date in Hong Kong.
The married MP said he called in federal police after the woman – who uses the alias “Sweet Sophia Rose” – asked him for money following their “sugar daddy” date in Hong Kong.
The magazine alleged that Mr Broad told prospective dates: “I’m an Aussie lad, I know how to ride a horse, fly a plane and f–k my woman. My intentions are completely dishonourable”.
For 25-year-old Melbourne-based university student and hospitality worker Ms Quinn (not her real name), it was a chance encounter on dating app Tinder that first tempted her to enter the sugaring world.
“This guy had a bio saying ‘I’m a really successful finance person, I don’t have time for a normal relationship, but if you’re the right girl I’ll spoil you’,” Ms Quinn says.
“So I swiped right, and we chatted.”
The interaction prompted her to browse sugar baby forums and read accounts of other women’s experiences. While money was an incentive, Ms Quinn says she was also motivated by the desire to “be wild and try something new”.
She signed up to sugar daddy website Seeking Arrangement, which claims to have 20 million users worldwide including 500,000 sugar babies, 188,000 sugar daddies and roughly 13,000 sugar mummies in Australia. Like many sites, it promises a secure and confidential service – sugar babies seeking to sign up to such sites can be required to upload identifying details including a copy of their passport.
While keeping her life as a sugar baby “semi-secret”, Ms Quinn took steps to protect her privacy by uploading images that “weren’t compromising” and couldn’t be traced back to her personal social media accounts via a reverse image search.
“Maybe I’ll regret it, but it hasn’t come back to bite me yet,” she says.
Since ‘sugaring’ is considered sex work, Australia’s laws prevent sugar babies from advertising their fees on meet-up sites. Seeking Arrangement insists it is “not a service, but a dating site” and warns “escorts” against joining the site.
“Technically you’re not allowed to solicit – you’re not allowed to say it’s $300 for a date on the website,” Ms Quinn says.
“What people generally do is get a feel for each other through the website, and then use [a private messaging service such as] WhatsApp or kik.
“You get hundreds of messages, and you may respond to 10 per cent of that, and you may meet 1 per cent of that,” she says.
Ms Quinn avoided younger men – “they’re sexed-up dogs” – and instead chose to interact with a handful of men aged between 40 and 60.
The “serious” sugar daddies are “not looking for just sex”, but rather for “someone that makes them feel special”.
“A lot of them are older men whose sex lives have dried up. They don’t want to leave their families and they have wives that they still respect, but are just not excited by or inspired by,” she says.
Ms Quinn spent four months as a sugar baby, during which time she went on first dates with about 10 men, only two of which resulted in ongoing relationships.
Those relationships were characterised by dinners at top restaurants and “sexy sleepovers” at five-star hotels. They were also “very lucrative”, Ms Quinn says, with financial remuneration of about $400 to $600 a date, plus gifts.
While she has no regrets about her time as a sugar baby, Ms Quinn ultimately realised that “it wasn’t fun anymore” and that “playing the role” was taking a toll on her mental health.
Another university student interviewed by The New Daily spoke with overwhelming positivity about her experiences as a sugar baby and encouraged other young women to consider the endeavour.
Sugar babies on the rise
The New Daily found thousands of sugar daddy profiles on Seeking Arrangement, with some men stating they had a net worth of $5 million and “wanted a princess they could spoil”.
“I love a girl who loves giving and receiving attention and wants to be shown the life I live and loves to be spoiled,” one profile said.
Another site, EmilyDates, pitches its service as “dating for successful men and ambitious women”.
The website, which is registered in Las Vegas, describes itself as “a modern dating service for women to meet successful men who are willing to provide them with a decent standard of living – the best clothes, technology and properties”.
‘It is sex work’
Cameron Cox, chief executive of Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP), who claims he worked as a “kept boy” for a cabinet minister in Canberra 30 years ago, says the experience helped him through university.
“My relationship to my minister was unspecified. He never gave me money but there was support, weekends in Sydney and introductions to famous people, and seeing that I was studying law and politics, it was very useful for me,” Mr Cox told The New Daily.
He says he classified sugar babies as sex workers.
“We say that sugar babies are sex workers but most of them say they’re not and we don’t force them to say they are as we’re a health and support organisation,” Mr Cox says.
“You’re putting out emotional labour for a reward and there’s a sexual content to that emotional labour as sex workers work very hard in their heads and most people don’t realise that.”