With high heels and low expectations, Thrillist assistant managing editor Julie Cerick and I are on 48th St and 11th Ave, surrounded by car dealerships and lost. We consider asking a hotel concierge for directions before a big, beautiful blond woman in a white bodycon dress and sky-high heels with a three-man film crew in tow sweeps past us. “This way.”
We’re greeted by a publicist in a flouncy sundress who implores us to not speak to any attendees except the ones they’ve specifically arranged. Little weird, but okay. The elevator opens to a sponsored swag table and 30 wood-backed chairs, where women of all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors -- plus two young men! -- are seated. There is a disco ball.
Julie and I look for a seat in the back, where Vice and Refinery29 have entrenched themselves. A different publicist than the flouncy-dressed one looks confused, then figures it out. “Oh! You guys are press! You’re so pretty I thought you were here for the summit,” she says, as if being press and attractive are mutually exclusive. Also, this might be a sales pitch. Everything might.
Soon, Babies will split up to take either the beginner or the advanced course track.
1. How to get the most out of your SeekingArrangement profile
2. How to separate your sugar life from your “regular” life
3. Safety concerns
4. How to market yourself and juggle multiple daddies
5. How to claim sugar funds on your taxes
We settle in (ambitiously) for Master Class Part One, which is all about upgrading your sugar and attracting a high-profile sugar daddy (also referred to as an “SD”). It’s taught by expert sugar baby Chelsea Ridenour -- the blond woman from outside! Chelsea confidently ascends the stage to tell us how fun sugaring is.
Here are some tips from Chelsea:
1. To attract the highest class of daddy, you need to be high class.
2. Be really clean. Two SDs dumped her for having a messy bathroom. So also, learn from your mistakes?
3. Don’t lie. They are more likely to like you if you’re just upfront and sincere about who you are and your expectations. Some men are looking for a real connection and you will get trapped in a web of untruths, and they will know, and your income will suffer.
4. But also lie sometimes, like if an SD asks if you have other SDs.
5. Or if you want more money. Hint at bills you don’t have and he’ll be happy to help. He wants to help.
6. Also lie if you don’t want to sleep with him, but don’t want to ruin the opportunity. Just pretend you will eventually!
7. No means no when it comes to sex, which is sound advice.
8. A high turnover rate is fine. Emotional attachment is bad. Two marriage proposals is two too many.
9. Married men are less clingy.
10. This is a business.
She also "freestyles" sometimes -- targeting rich-looking men in bars, rather than using the website -- like the time she pretended to be super into watches and figured out her mark was wearing a Presidential Rolex. Bullseye. She asks if they like to travel, one of the more obvious indications of wealth, and then if they’d consider what she refers to as “mutually beneficial dating.” It works more often than you’d imagine.
I don't know nor could ever understand the circumstances or motivations that led her (or any other babies for that matter) to this lifestyle, but it's hard to remain open-minded. This woman swindled her benefactor into pumping $15k into her lifestyle Tumblr that’s just a stream of selfies, butts, and comments that advise other sugar babies to stalk their SD’s children on Facebook to see how the family lives: “Riding horses on vacation in Santorini as your cover photo? Okay, I’ll break bread with your dad tomorrow.” And yet, I’m as impressed as I am disgusted -- maybe she’s actually the one who’s got this all figured out. I could be debt-free by now! (Financially speaking, anyway.)
But fundamentally, as much as I support this woman's capacity to choose what works best for her, I don't support the choice.