CHICAGO — Nicolette Blair is 23, blonde and beautiful, assets she means to work for all they’re worth.
If she plays her cards right, that could be millions.
“This is the time to do it — when you’re young and you’re single,” said Blair, who’s eager to snag a rich man and doesn’t care who knows it.
Forget the bar scene or the personal ads. From her home in Chicago, Blair sifts through prospective suitors at SeekingArrangement.com, which unabashedly markets itself as the Web’s “premier Sugar Daddy dating site.”
“We are committed to being the most trusted dating resource for the rich and the beautiful,” says the site, which promises to help the beautiful — and ideally, it says, “ambitious and young” — find “a generous benefactor to pamper, mentor and take care of you — perhaps to help you financially.”
In return for the rich older guy, SeekingArrangement.com offers connections with “perhaps a ‘personal secretary’? secret lover? student? or a mistress for an extra-marital affair?”
SF ISO big wallet
SeekingArrangement.com and dozens of similar sites — with names like SugarDaddie.com, RichOrBeautiful.com and LoveToBeSpoiled.com — unmix the signals being sent by a certain slice of the dating crowd. The young and attractive and the rich and, well, seasoned can seek each other out without all that awkward dancing around motives, hidden or otherwise.
Most of the women on the site are in their 20s, while the average man is in his 40s or 50s. But it is strictly non-partisan, offering parallel services for young men and older, successful women, called “Sugar Mommies.”
The age disparity is not a problem for Blair, who made it clear that she wasn’t looking for a traditional boyfriend, anyway.
“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and if I was looking for a traditional relationship I would be seeking someone my own age group,” she said, adding that she wouldn’t be satisfied with a nice present or two for her time.
“Gifts are not going to help you,” she advised would-be suitors. “It’s not a smart investment.”
What’s love got to do with it?
Such sites raise ethical and moral questions, said Judy Lauwasser Bruett, a relationship coach with the Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine in Pewaukee, Wis. She said relationships built through Seeking Arrangement and similar services were really nothing more than business transactions for “men wanting to buy sex.”
“I don’t know that anybody with good self-esteem would do it,” Bruett said. “My sense is the men are not looking for love.”
The same may be true for many women on SeekingArrangement, which prominently features a link to its sister site: SeekingMillionaire.com.
John Fergus, who identified himself as a onetime sugar daddy on SeekingArrangement, said he was put off by the forwardness of the women he found there, whom he called nothing more than “golddiggers.”
“Some of these people wanted $5,000 cash up front — they wanted an apartment,” said Fergus, who decided in the end that “I’m not the sugar daddy that way.”
Hardheaded search for a soft landing
But he is in the minority. SeekingArrangement boasts that it has attracted more than 100,000 paid members since it launched a little more than a year ago, even though it is among the more demure sites in the burgeoning sugar daddy field, strictly banning nudity in its profiles.
Other sites are more blunt in what they offer. For example, SugarDaddyForMe.com, which allows users to post racy and explicit photos, targets well-to-do older men with this come-on: “Looking for an extramarital affair? Find what you really want and join our free adult dating site. Cut to the Chase!”
Meanwhile, at RichOrBeautiful.com, users vote on how attractive the young women are. Winners are given free memberships with which to go on the prowl for older men, whose verified incomes must exceed $200,000 a year.
Nicolette Blair knows what some people think about sites like SeekingArrangement.com and the people who use it. She is adamant, however, that she is not flirting with prostitution. Not every arrangement involves sex, and both parties bring much more to the table, she said.
For some, it’s about security. For others, it’s about excitement.
“Prostitutes, I feel, are selling just their bodies, and we’re selling a lot more than that,” Blair said. “If a man wants just sex, he can go find that.”
Courtny Gerrish is a correspondent for NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee. Alex Johnson is a reporter for msnbc.com.