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Sugar babies, the new sexual network

Young, attractive and educated girls offer company on the internet in exchange for gifts and money.
Verónica says that she is not an escort or prostitute and said that the practice should be understood as a commercial agreement. (Photo: Juan Carlos Reyes / EL UNIVERSAL)
Óscar Balderas
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Last month Verónica celebrated her 22nd birthday in New York. The celebration began on a Thursday morning, when she got 5,000 pesos (US$305) deposited in her account -the first gift of the day- and a plane ticket in her inbox. She put on a new dress, her favorite shoes and a necklace that her parents gave her three weeks before for passing her criminal law test at the prestigious university in Mexico City where she studies.

A taxi waiting for her at John F. Kennedy airport took her to Philip Marie Restaurant, on the corner of 11th Street and Hudson. A perfectly dressed 52-year-old man with a broad smile welcomed her to the table.

She ordered bourbon braised pork; he ordered a steak and they drank two bottles of wine. They enjoyed the third bottle in the room he booked to spend the night with her at Hotel High Line NYC.

The date included caressing, hugs and compliments until three in the morning, when Verónica yawned and asked her companion to let her rest. The next day he took her to visit the best parks in the Big Apple.

Her classmates envy her life, but only she and her best friend know the secret: her date was a mere commercial agreement. Verónica offers youth, company, attention, flirting and romantic dates and Fernando rewards her with gifts and truckloads of cash.

"I'm not an escort or prostitute," says Verónica, who took a month to decide to talk to me. "This is something else. We have ... a "commercial agreement" so to say.

It has been called voluntary prostitution, high-level escorts or prepaid girls. Even though the concept is relatively new in Mexico, it has existed in the U.S. for at least a decade. Verónica, who is a law student, is a "sugar baby", i.e. an attractive, young and educated woman with a good life style who wants to move up the socioeconomic ladder with the help of someone wealthy. That "someone" is a "sugar daddy", typically an older man, wealthy and generous, who offers gifts to a young girl to spend time with him. Fernando is a successful textile entrepreneur, but there are also young who look for a "sugar mommy".

"To get started you must open a profile similar to Facebook, but on a website for sugar daddies. You sign up, upload your photo, describe your interests and wait for someone to contact you. And if you see that the candidate has money and likes you, you date him."

Verónica met Fernando on the most popular website for this kind of agreements, whose name EL UNIVERSAL will not reveal in order not to promote this practice. This site was launched in 2007 by Brandon Wade, an American businessman who was bad at flirting. The idea came from his mother's advice: "Focus on studying and making money and women will come to you". So he created his own online dating site, that currently has 4.5 million users: 3.3 million sugar babies (both, girls and boys) looking for 1.2 million sugar daddies and mummies, who pay between US$60 and US$150 a month for their ad.

Sugar daddies determine how much they are willing to spend each month on a sugar baby, who may also determine how many hundreds or thousands of dollars her/his time is worth. Some sugar daddies spend up to 100,000 pesos (US$6,103) a month in one or more girls, whose rates include lavish dinners, dresses, jewelry and trips abroad.

To help a sugar baby make the best decision, sugar daddies and mommies can have their account verified: if there is a diamond next to their name, it means they are tested millionaires.

"You must look less like a porn star and more like a next-door girl. A photo with your books in the classroom is the best. They do not want a prostitute, they want someone to laugh with, with bride potential," Verónica explained.

The country with more subscribers in the world is the United States, with 1.6 million, followed by Canada and England. Mexico ranks 15 out of 35 and until June 15 there were 10,155 Mexican sugar babies available for 1,621 sugar daddies and 244 mummies in the country.


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