The below was originally written as part of my “Sugar Babies” column for VICE.
Tammy is 29 and lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia. As a day job, she works in the music industry, but she’s been been supplementing her income as a sugar baby for a few years now. We became internet friends about a year ago when she submitted an advice question to Ask Slutever, asking “When is the appropriate time to tell a guy you’re dating that you moonlight as a sex worker?”
God, being a modern woman is so hard…
What’s a first date with a sugar daddy usually like for you?
Tammy: First, we meet in public. It’s safer that way and it’s good to hang out, because I’m not going to commit to seeing someone once a week if I don’t like spending time with him. So it’salmost like a first date. But when you meet someone off a sugar daddy site, it’s an arrangement—it’s not a “regular” date—so you’re suppose to do something special for your SB. It’s normally a good sign if the guy brings you a gift on the first meeting—one guy gave me an iPad, a lot of guys will give you like $100 for showing up to eat with them, or maybe a nice bottle of liquor whatever. I have to drive to some of my meetings—either into Richmond, which takes 30 minutes, or to Northern Virginia which is over an hour—so if you’re not going to throw me something to compensate for the time and money it took to travel, then you’re not going to be a good sugar daddy, ya know?
When you started being a sugar baby, was being wined and dined part of the experience you were looking for?
Honestly, not really. I was looking more to meet in hotels, or at one of our homes. Most of the guys are married, so in a smaller, rural area like where I live, it’s hard for them to go out in public. And I don’t want to run into anyone I know, either. My friends all hang out at the local bars and restaurants downtown, so I normally suggest we meet at chain restaurants: Ruby Tuesday, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, etc.
Those places can be fun occasionally though. Like when I go visit my parents they always want to go to Applebee’s, and I don’t argue because once in a while, a giant plate of boneless chicken wings covered in bleu cheese dressing is a really good thing.
Yeah, exactly, I like eating at those places, and my friends would never agree to go with me because they’re not, like, vegan or organic and don’t have gluten-free options or whatever. Also, those chains are always well populated, so it feels really safe. I like Outback because it’s a bit darker in there; places like Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s are always lit so brightly and it’s really unflattering.
Whats your favorite dish at Ruby Tuesday?
I love their fish tacos, and their “Ruby Relaxer” drink is probably the best thing on the menu. It’s some ridiculous pink rum drink. I like to order really awful, girly drinks on sugar dates, like expensive mai tais. I don’t like to eat anything that’s particularly messy because I dont want to be wearing my food when I leave, so I usually order something somewhat decent that I can eat with a fork and knife—a chicken entrée rather than a sandwich. Although I guess the fish tacos are an exception.
There’s definitely some food that’s just not OK for dates, like spaghetti or anything with tiny seeds that end up in your teeth. I’ve had some scarring experiences with tabbouleh.
Right, like I wouldnt eat wings. There’s no cute way to eat a chicken wing.
What are the must-haves at Chili’s and Outback Steakhouse?
At Chili’s, I love the chicken crispers. They’re totally packed with MSG and are so bad for you, but they’re amazing. And there’s something about a Bloomin’ Onion from Outback that will forever taste like my childhood. Outback also has a great ahi tuna appetizer that I love to get down on. If I go to Outback or Texas Steakhouse, I’ll get the best steak, like the filet mignon, and salad and a potato.
I know chain restaurants aren’t “trendy,” but overall do you think the quality is alright?
I mean, they’re not serving you something local and organic—it’s usually mass produced and brought in frozen—but that’s what most Americans eat. It’s decent, mid-level food like chicken and burgers. When my parents come to town, they don’t go to the smaller, local places that only serve organically farmed beef. They go to Olive Garden. And most Americans would consider that, like Red Lobster, upper-end food. That’s the best that most of small town America has to offer.
And there’s a familiarity to those chains that I think people really enjoy—like you live in Georgia and eat Red Lobster, then you go on vacation to Florida and eat there and it give you a sense of home.
Exactly, and it’s going to be the same everywhere, so you know exactly what to get.
So is one chain thought to be classier than the others in the South?
The ones we talked about are all about the same. But there’s also a company called Great American Restaurants, which runs a handful of mini-chains and one-off restaurants all located in Northern Virginia. Those are more high-end—like an entrée might be $25. For example, there’s Coastal Flats, which is like a super high-end Red Lobster with amazing crab chowder, and Sweetwater Tavern, which has delicious bread and fantastic cocktails. And the decorations are amazing. They have giant black jellyfish everywhere. It’s great. But there’s way more money in Northern Virginia because it’s all government and people who work in DC, so they might not consider those restaurants to be as classy as people from Southern Virginia would.
Do you ever eat fast food on sugar dates?
No. Although I dated this one SD who I’d make bring me Chipotle whenever he’d come to my house.
How old are your SDs usually?
They’re usually in their 40s. Although I had one guy who was around 60. He was my first ever SD, and I met him in this small, traditional Southern diner. I had fried chicken, fried potatoes, coleslaw, and sweet tea. That’s the great thing about being chubby: You can go out and not worry about eating all the food and all the sides you want because the guy clearly want to be with someone bigger. Sometimes I even order dessert too, and they usually think it’s adorable.
What’s your craziest SD story?
OK this is strange: Last week I met a guy in Richmond who paid me $2,500, who says he wants to see me four times a month. It seems too good to be true, but he really weirds me out, honestly. He was really specific about wanting to see a bigger girl, but one who isn’t gross, and he wants to be able to say derogatory things to me, like having me to dance for him while he called me names.
Whoa, that’s crazy, but an insane amount of money. Can you get into the dominant/submissive element of it?
I don’t actually like being called names. In the heat of the moment, yeah, sometimes I can get into you calling me names, but when you’re just text messaging me mean things at 2 PM on a Wednesday, it’s kind of weird. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through with it, but then I was like, well… I wear a size 16, and you’re paying me to be here, so in reality I guess I am a fat whore, so let’s go with this…
Yeah, I guess it’s good to be rational in situations like that. So, living in the South, are a lot of your SDs very religious and conservative?
Not really. They probably identify as Christian, but the ones I’ve dealt with haven’t been too extreme. My friend—who was sort of my escort mentor when I got into sex work—has a long-term sugar daddy who’s super Republican and baptist, and she finds him so annoying and hypocritical. He once put her up in this bed and breakfast near his house over the Christmas holiday, and would periodically come over and have sex with her, even on Christmas day. But he’s been supporting her for years, so she deals with him. I had one SD who was pretty clearly closeted. We didn’t have sex—he just wanted company—but he was really fun. He’d buy my Jeffrey Campbell shoes and take me to Outback.
In the last sugar baby column I interviewed a girl who was referring to her sugar daddies as “clients,” which caused an angry commenter to respond “Sugar babies aren’t escorts. A benefactor isn’t a client.” What do you think?
I don’t know, it’s a grey area. The difference to me is that I communicate openly with my sugar daddies. They know where I’m from, where I work, and intimate details about my life, whereas hourly escort clients, who I’ve seen as well, don’t know anything about me, like not even my real name. With sugar daddies, you form more lasting relationships. We text each other about what we’re up to. I definitely prefer it to straight-up escorting.