For Love and Money: On Paying for Companionship


It’s not always about the Benjamins.

By Alexa Day

Making the rounds in my corner of social media is the story of Heidy Pandora, a 24-year-old who says she is a full-time traveler. After her first trip to Mexico, she discovered she loved seeing different parts of the world. But travel is expensive. In fact, the hefty price tags kept Heidy from exploring the world as much as she wanted to.

Then she found MissTravel.com, a website for travel dating. In other words, Miss Travel connects people interested in journeying to a specific destination. Women can participate on MissTravel for free. Members propose a trip, connect with someone else interested in visiting the chosen locale, and then arrange to travel together or meet up at the destination.

Heidy says up front that she has sex with some but not all of her travel companions, and that some of them are married. She says she prefers the married guys because they’re less likely to become emotionally attached. She’s about getting stamps in her passport, not a ring on her finger.

She’s also serious about not paying to travel with the guys she meets online. MissTravel requires members to upload a photo (something all dating sites should do, in my opinion), and it allows members to state a preference not to pay for trips.

It bears mentioning that site founder Brandon Wade is also the founder and CEO of SeekingArrangement.com. SeekingArrangement, geared toward sugar babies and the folks who support them, touts something called Mutually Beneficial Arrangements. The fact that they’ve trademarked the phrase basically sums up the nature of the site.

The headline for Heidy’s story calls her a sugar baby. I’m not sure that’s a fair characterization. Heidy is meeting up with people who will pay to travel with her, with the possibility of sex along the way. For her, the travel is the point. For the sugar baby, it’s all about the money. Money flows directly to the sugar baby, and so far as I can tell, the sugar baby’s relationship is far more likely to be sexual.

The concept of sex as currency makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but women have been exchanging sex for things of value as long as there have been women and things of value. If we want to be cynical about it (and I do, thanks for asking), we might describe much of the history of marriage as the exchange of sex for things of value. I think it’s just uncomfortable for people to be confronted by it. We might all be happier if the sugar babies and paid travel companions were plying their trade quietly, where we can’t see it, instead of in social media. At the same time, there’s a reason — perhaps an ugly reason — that billionaire romances were doing so well until the events of last winter.

I’d tell you to hop on the Maestra bandwagon, but no way these folks use a bandwagon. Click to buy.

Heidy’s story reminds me of Maestra, a novel Elizabeth Shore recommended not long ago. Heroine Judith Rashleigh enters a world of paid companionship and finds herself very much at home, even when she’s on the run, among wealthy people who sweep her up into their world. Judith just has to know her place and do as she’s told, and off she goes from one exotic locale to the next, gathering cash along the way. But Judith is capable of much more than her comrades know. The inner play of her emotions and her motivations, sometimes quite at odds with her outward appearance, makes for fascinating reading.

(By the way, two of us at Lady Smut have now granted their imprimatur to Maestra. If you grab it now, you’ll be ready for the sequel, Domina, when it comes out next month.)

But what to make of the paid companion and her somewhat seedier sister, the sugar baby? I had a difficult time coming to my usual position, to let a girl do what she wants as long as she’s chosen to do it and isn’t hurting anyone. Heidy’s been to 20 countries in three years. A high percentage of sugar babies are leaving college debt free, a thought that makes this attorney whimper wistfully. And even we call this prostitution, as some sugar babies do, the feminist in me says that if a woman owns her body, she should be free to sell it.

Still, something about this makes me uncomfortable.

For the right woman, clearly, arrangements work.

But how does the wrong woman discover that’s she’s not cut out for the world of pay for play?

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll keep it casual.

Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and licensed attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.

 

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  • Kel
    June 20, 2017 at 11:21 am

    More freedom to the people who are comfortable with sex for money in either direction. I have no issues with people paying for companionship, but I do hope that the people involved remember that money isn’t really worth anything – it’s only worth what you do with it. Oddly, the travel-companionship thing makes me cringe less – I have no issues with people consenting to have sex with each other, I just dislike any situations where humans are pressured into sexual acts they don’t really want or aren’t comfortable with.

    This includes the unknowing spouses of married persons who cheat* – they never consented to being exposed to the sexual history of their partner’s unknown partners, and cheaters are never careful enough. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it’s an STD. That shit follows you home.

    *Open marriages are, of course, a whole different kettle of fish. You do you. Also, get tested between every partner, and at 45 days after sex with a new person regardless of what they tell you. You owe your spouse. If your downtime isn’t at least one complete blood-test cycle long, you owe both your spouse and all your partners full disclosure. STDs are BAD, mmkay?

  • Madeline Iva
    June 23, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Lexi, if you think marriage is an exchange of sex for ANYTHING then you have not been talking to the majority of people who have been married for a long time. LOL.

    Kel your response just cracks me up. “Vegas stays in Vegas, unless it’s an STD. That shit follows you home.” Exactly!

    I really like the ways in which old skool prostitution is being deconstructed in our new world…I like that it’s becoming more and more common to say “sex may or may not happen” and you get the feeling that they mean it. Hey–even with yer classic prostitute it should be a total given that sex may or may not happen. Cause otherwise it’s rape, no matter who got paid.

    I like the idea that treating the other person well even without knowing the outcome of what will happen between you is something people are willing to pay for. That is an ideal — you treat someone well, and if that’s it, then that’s it. There’s no exploitation in that. However, most things in life are not this uncomplicated, and when people are young, inexperienced, naive, not-quite-understanding-the-codes, didn’t-read-the-fine-print, then my hope is that there is DEFINITELY a way for them to gracefully back out and away from this and that they are very warmly and supportively encouraged to do so…Again, we’re talking about an ideal world here. But a girl can dream.

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