The below was originally written as part of my “Sugar Babies” column for VICE.
Jacq is a 27-year-old writer and stripper. She grew up in Montreal, which is where she first discovered the sugar baby life, after which she became exceptionally good at getting stuff for free–especially nice meals. Jacq now lives in New York with her wife. With her tits out, she gathers stories, which she’s currently compiling into a book titled Flashing My Gash for Cash.
When did you start “working” as a sugar baby?
Jacq: When I was 20 I was bartending at this douchey club in downtown Montreal, and one night a guy came in and ordered a cocktail, gave me a hundred bucks and didn’t want change, which obviously got my attention. He was a Jordanian oil prince in his mid twenties, and was really sweet. The next day we met up for lunch and afterward I gave him a blow-job, but I would have fooled around with him more if I wasn’t on my period. He had this really beautiful cock, although when he took it out he said, “It’s handsome, right?” which kind of ruined it. Anyway, later we went shopping, and suddenly I had new shoes and Chanel perfume, and afterward I had this moment of, “Oh… so this is how the world works.”
Epiphany! So where did he take you for lunch?
He was visiting from out of town, so I took him to one of my favourite downtown spots, Sho-Dan. They have this sushi pizza that, at 20, I found really novel.
So did that experience pique your interest in sex work?
I wouldn’t have called it sex work yet. I had a middle class upbringing, I was at a fancy university–no on around me was a sex worker. But I was always interested in the idea of it, and I liked the attention and power and flirtation, but I didn’t want to have sex, necessarily. I just started to realize that life could be free. And so I started Googling…
Which led you to discover sugar daddy websites?
Exactly. At first, all the messages I got were from men who wanted me to travel with them, but I was like “Fuck no, I don’t want to get raped.” But eventually I got a message from this guy Sam who just said “Do you want to go shopping?” He was super old, like a grandpa, and he basically just watched me exist. He would take me out shopping and would say, “You can have anything you want.” So I told him I wanted Prada pumps, and he was like, “Let’s start with BCBG.” Lol. In a way, he was teaching me the process of these types of relationships–like, you can’t ask for Prada immediately, there’s a mutually beneficial exchange that has to develop over time.
What were your dates with him like?
For the first date we went to Kaizen, this sushi restaurant on Sherbrooke. It’s the kind of restaurant where they acupuncture the fish to sedate them in Japan, then ship them to Montreal where they take the acupuncture needles out, the fish starts flopping around again, and then they kill it. So it’s incredibly fresh, but it’s obscenely expensive, like $60 a roll or something. I got some bitchy cocktail like a lychee martini, and then ordered almost everything on the menu. My favorite was the lobster dragon roll. Sam just sat there smiling at me and barely ate anything.
Were you worried that he’d think it was tacky that you ordered so much?
No, I didn’t care, because I was starving. Like it was a necessity, I had no money. And I also didn’t care because I thought he was tacky for being on the website anyway. There’s this mutual judgment that lingers over all types of sex work. When I started working as a stripper, I’d look at the other strippers and be like “Eww, look at all these crack whores.” But that feeling dissipates pretty quickly. But you do judge your colleagues at first, and the strippers judge the men who come in, and the men judge the strippers, and so everyone is judging everyone, which means that everyone is fronting. But the flip side is that no one cares because you’re never going to see each other again. It’s like, “You’re paying $12 for a Bud Light to see my tits, which means that you’re an idiot, but I’m a slut, so whatever.” So in a way it’s kind of liberating–everyone’s just working their shit out and getting drunk and hating each other. “You’re paying $12 for a Bud Light to see my tits, which means you’re a horny idiot, and I’m a Dumb Slut, so let’s do this.” So in a way it’s kind of liberating–everyone’s just getting drunk and working out their daddy and mommy issues under black lights.
Did you ever hook up with Sam?
No, he was very grandfatherly, and not the type of grandfather who wants to fuck you. He didn’t even try. It’s not always just about having sex. Some guys get off on being seen with a beautiful woman.
Where else did you go with him?
We went to an upscale Greek place called Milos. You go to the back of the restaurant and there’s all these fresh fish on ice and you pick your fish. It’s sort of a novel experience. I was wearing a dress he bought me at Zara, which I bought in a rush and didn’t love. I’ve since learned that you should do your research before shopping with a sugar daddy–go and try stuff on, and remember where the stuff you want is located in the store, this way you can just grab it fast, because guys hate shopping for long periods of time. He didn’t take me shopping anywhere that upscale, but I mean, he bought me this amazing leather jacket at Zara that I still wear to this day.
So who was your next sugar daddy?
Oh god, he was this disgusting, balding guy with a ponytail who worked in construction and was a douchebag. He kept overtly looking under the table to check out my legs. For our first and only date we went to Garcon!, this French restaurant on Sherbrooke. I had a quail appetizer that was really good. The guy wanted me to go with him to Miami. Sugar daddies love Miami–it’s a thing.
Well it’s very classy there. So when did you decide to cross over from the world of sugar babies to stripping?
Well, I had moved to Australia for a while, and did not anticipate the astronomical cost of living. I had just met this girl who was cute and broke. I remember trying to withdraw money to buy us pizza, and it said ‘Insufficient funds.” And I was just like “Fuck it, I’m going to be a stripper.” And I immediately loved it.
Why do you like it?
I love the performance, the costuming, the immediate gratification of cold, hard cash, and the sluttery–being a slut is fun! Also, you can form sincere relationships. And sure, they do have seuxal undertones, but everyone has relationships like that in real life; I just turn a profit from it. Everyone’s always sucking someone’s dick in some capacity, so in a way I think that makes sex work the most honest work. (Although realistically I haven’t given a blowjob in six years.)
Do you find that people are surprised when you say you like your job?
I do! It’s unfortunate that the only socially acceptable way to be a sex worker is to hate men–you’re supposed to be exploitative, vindictive and to cheat people out of their money. Because enjoying sexual
interactions that you’re being paid for, whether you’re fucking the guys or just listening to them bitch about their bosses, makes people uncomfortable.It’s easier for people to slut-shame than to wrap their heads around the fact that a woman is in control of her body and –gasp–making money off it.
What did you think of Steven Soderbergh’s portrayal of sex work in The Girlfriend Experience, where Sasha Grey plays a high class escort?
I like that movie, but dammit, why is everyone in it so vapid? Sasha Grey is so smart and self-aware in real life, and the movie just made her seem like a dumbass in nice lingerie. You need a little bit of intellectual capacity for emotional compassion, but they just make her seem like this two-dimensional fuck machine… but alas, male fantasies are seldom complex.
So you think deep down clients just want you to be a hot robot?
Well, I find that when you surprise clients by getting under their skin, or impressing them with your wit, they find it quite jarring, because you’re not playing into the fantasy. They interpret it as you letting your guard down–as vulnerability–rather than as independence and autonomy. They expect you to be dumb, basically, so when you’re not dumb, they’re like, “Oh, she’s real!” And sometimes they like it, but sometimes they find it intimidating. So you’re negotiating those boundaries all the time.
Do you ever go on sugar-daddy-ish dates with your stripper clients?
I haven’t in a long time. I’m married now, and part of the agreement I have with my wife is that work stays at work. But before we met I was working the day shift at a stripclub in midtown Manhattan, and afterward I’d often go for dinner with one of the guys from the club–they always ask the dancers to hang out afterward–because it meant getting a nice, free meal. I’d usually want oysters, and one of my favorite places around there was Bistro Chat Noir, on the Upper East Side near the park. Guys love to watch you eat oysters, because it’s like you’re sucking back on their cum.
Ooh, good tip!
There’s a guy who comes into the strip club a lot who always gets a private room with me and this other dancer. He orders food to the room–strip clubs in New York often have restaurants in them because of certain laws–and just sits there watching us feed each other porterhouse steak and shrimp scampi. Compared to most restaurants, strip club food would be considered disgusting, but when you’re drunk and starving it tastes amazing.
That’s not what I ever imagined went on in those private rooms.
Yeah, a lot of guys just get rooms to do a bunch of coke. I recently had a couple come in and fuck in front of me. The girl was like “I’m bi!”, but was clearly the straightest girl in the world, and was pretending to be into me. So they fucked on the couch and I shouted words of encouragement from the adjacent chair.
So have you ever hooked-up with any of your clients from the club or websites?
No, I’m pretty gay, honestly. And I’ve always known I could get things without having to fuck anyone, which has been a blessing and curse, because I’ve taken it too far–once I flew to Paris with a client and he obviously expected me to fuck him and I didn’t. He was really mad by the end! But honestly, the couple times I tried fooling around with sugar daddies I got really bummed out. I just hated it, and I acknowledged that it just wasn’t something I personally felt comfortable doing.
So on sugar daddy dates, can you get given cash if you don’t fuck the guys, or is it just presents and stuff?
Yeah, I usually didn’t get cash just to hang. I’ve successfully been paid $1k just for a date twice in my career, but that’s hard to negotiate. You basically have to make the argument that a night of your time is worth a grand, because that’s how much you could be making at the club. But guys don’t generally like paying a grand not to fuck you.
What does your wife think about what you do?
She’s totally respectful and supportive of my stripping career. But the dates outside of the club are a thing of the past. Something I think a lot of people don’t acknowledge is that you can be a sex worker and have a relationship, and they don’t really intersect that much.