A sugar baby is a young male or female who is financially pampered and cared for by a sugar daddy or sugar mommy in exchange for companionship. Welcome to Sugar Babies, a column about sugar babies and the food they eat on dates.
Lula's sugar baby story is different than most—it's really more of a sugar baby fairytale. Raised in New Zealand, Lula moved to London just over a year ago, where she's currently getting her PhD in literature. For money, she works a 9-to-5 marketing gig in the food industry. Today, most "mutually beneficial relationships"—as they're often called—are formed through sugar daddy dating websites. Lula, however, stumbled upon this dynamic by accident. One minute she was having an innocent conversation with a stranger at an art gallery, and the next a circle of European businessmen was sending her designer dresses, paying her to party, and feeding her glamorous junk food.
It's like a modern-day Cinderella story—minus the part about being a servant.
MUNCHIES: How exactly did you meet your sugar daddy? Lula: I'd only been living in London for three months. I was at an art opening with a friend of mine, and we were discussing a painting in the show by Nelson Mandela. This guy in his fifties came over and joined our conversation. He and I ended up talking about how I worked for a food company and loved cooking, and he said, "Well, why don't you come for dinner with me at The Arts Club on Dover Street?" He said it was a members-only club that was founded in the 1860s, which sounded interesting. I figured the worst that could happen was he'd turn out to be a creep and I'd leave, so I went.
What's the Arts Club like? It's this incredible, old-school estate house that's been transformed into a private club. He took me downstairs to the jazz bar, and they have a "chef's special" set menu that changes every day. For a starter, we had scallop and chestnut dim sum and shredded duck spring rolls. For a main course, I had seared fish fillet. They bring the raw pieces of fish out on a hot plate and cook it in front of you; it's amazing. Gregory had quail, but it was so strange—they bring the bird out fully intact, and then slice through the entire thing, so the feathers fall to the side and there's this perfectly cooked meat on the inside. I was like, oh my god, there's a literal bird on your plate. The British eat a lot of weird birds.
True. Did you have fun with Gregory? Were you attracted to him? Yeah, he's really nice, smart, and engaging. He's divorced, runs his own company, and has a daughter around my age. He's really good looking and in shape—if you walked past him in the street you might not give him a second look, but there's just something about him. It's a cliché that women are attracted to power, but he really does come across as a "power player," and I think that's what hooked me.
Did he pay you to have dinner? When did the sugar baby part come up? Yeah, that was weird. So after dinner, he drove me home, and then just handed me £500 in cash. I clearly looked very confused, and insulted, and he just said, "Oooh, you haven't done this kind of thing before?" Of course, I jumped to conclusions and was like, "I'm not going to have sex with you!" And I actually gave the cash back to him. But he just said, "Look, I'm not delusional—you're a smart, pretty, young girl. You don't have to be hanging out with me." Basically, he explained that he was looking for a decent piece of arm candy (who also has a brain) who he could bring to dinners and events. He travels a lot and doesn't want a real girlfriend, but I think he gets lonely sometimes. He said if I was willing to do those things that he would reward me with cash and presents. He then asked, "Have you ever heard of the concept of a sugar baby?" I said no, and he basically told me to Google it.
That's so funny. There are so many websites dedicated to facilitating these types of relationships, and you stumbled upon the situation organically without even knowing what a sugar baby was. I know! So, two weeks later he called me and said, "I'm going to a gallery event at Kensington Palace. It's black tie, so I need your dress and shoe sizes." The next day a courier arrived at my office with an amazing Valentino dress, and heels. The event was incredible, and that's when I realized how potentially fun this setup could be.
How did it progress from there? Well, after seeing Greg for a few months, he told me that he wanted to introduce me to two of his friends, who were basically looking for the same service. He organized for us all to meet at this beautiful boutique hotel in Mayfair called the Brown's Hotel. The restaurant is so delicious. To share, he ordered beef crusted in mustard seeds. The meal was similar to a classic British Sunday roast, only done better—there were roasted potatoes, creamed spinach, and salads, all served family-style.
Wait, so Greg was basically pimping you out to his friends? As arm candy, yeah. All the men work in separate industries, so they don't have to worry about overlap at events. One of them is Chinese and works in finance, and the other is a Russian oil magnate. Meeting them was basically the strangest interview of all time. They wanted to know what I studied, my stance on politics, what my upbringing was like. It was way more intense than I had anticipated.
Why do these guys have to pay a girl to date them? I'm not sure. I guess neither of them is very attractive. The Russian is actually married. His wife lives in Moscow and prefers not to travel, so that she can stay home with their small children. Weirdly, I've actually spoken to her, and she's recommended dresses for me to wear to events. With him, it feels very much like a working relationship.
But isn't it strange or embarrassing for the wife if he's showing up to events with another woman? He and his wife have some weird agreement, but I never pushed him to tell me about it. I've only been out with him twice. For the other guys, I think it legitimizes them at events to be with someone who looks good, but can also keep up conversationally. I went to one party with the Chinese guy at the Asia Society in London, and it was literally a joke: All the guys were with these really cliché, Eastern European, blonde supermodel/escort types who spoke broken English. And then there was me, who really doesn't fit that profile. Greg once told me, "All my friends and their wives like you and think you're my real girlfriend, rather than some bimbo I hired out for the evening." But it does get a bit weird when a guy brings you to more personal events, and suddenly his friends are like, "We're all going skiing over the Christmas holiday, you guys should come!" And then I have to make up a lie about how I'm going to be in New Zealand.
Do you like Greg's friends as much as you like him? Not really. I can respect their intellects, but they're both pretty bland. I did go to an amazing event with the Chinese guy, though. It was the launch for a Sony product at The Shard, which is the tallest building in London. The top floor is a restaurant from which you can see the whole city. It was a silent disco, so everyone was walking around drinking Champagne with these ridiculous headphones on. The restaurant had multiple top chefs set up at their own stations, each making food in front of you. I went to a chef who worked at Zuma, an amazing Japanese restaurant in Knightsbridge. One of his specialties is deep-fried eel in teriyaki sauce, in a giant dumpling the size of your hand.
For events, do the guys always pay you and buy you a new dress? Yeah, I always get £500. Greg lets me pick my dresses out now, but the Russian insists on choosing what I wear. Honestly, I'm generally a jeans, T-shirt and combat boots-type of person, so unless I totally love the dress, I just sell it on eBay. I sold one from Greg for £3,000.
Whoa, so are you making a ton of money? Well, I managed to pay for my PhD up front, without a loan, which is amazing. I've been doing this for seven months, and I've made just over £20,000. Since I also work full time, I'm trying to save money to buy a property back in New Zealand, and then rent it out.
Wow, that's smart. What's one of the most interesting food experiences you've had while escorting? One night I was with the Russian guy and we'd just left a party where there was only finger food, and I was starving. He said he knew a restaurant that was open 24 hours, which in London is basically unheard of, so I was expecting McDonalds. Surprisingly, we pulled up to this giant, nondescript office building and took the elevator up to the 40th floor, where I was shocked to find this amazing restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and an incredible view of the city. It's called The Duck and Waffle, and their after-hours menu is full of gourmet greasy food. We had deep-fried duck leg with bacon and syrup on a waffle. It was so delicious.
That sounds dangerous. Did you ever end up having sex with Gregory? I did, actually. We'd been at an event, and there was a lot of drinking involved. We'd been seeing each other for three months, and he'd never even tried to hold my hand. In the cab home I said, "Look, I have to ask: Are you gay? Are you not attracted to me? What's the deal?" And he said, "Well, you told me after the first dinner that you weren't going to have sex with me, and I appreciated that." I was like, "No man appreciates when a girl says that!" It was funny. We ended up going back to his hotel. The sex was good. Nothing crazy, but good. I've actually booty-called him a few times since then.
Do you think you'll keep seeing him in a work capacity? I do. It might sound weird, but I genuinely consider him a friend. Although we did argue once. Recently, we had this long conversation about feminism over dinner, and he told me that I clearly wasn't a feminist, because if I were, I wouldn't be a sugar baby. Of course, this made me really mad. Feminism isn't about creating a set of rules and regulations; it's about autonomy. If I were a microbiologist, and then decided to be a stay-at-home mom and be supported by my husband, that would be OK, as long as it was my choice. If I want to be a high-class escort, I will, because it's my body. What makes me a feminist is that I make decisions about my life based on my own needs and wants, without society, or men, or anyone telling me what I can and can't do.