sugar daddy

From the Castro Biscuit site on 4/3/13:

Only in the Castro Moment of the Day: Straight Dude Seeks Mentor Daddy (by Walyde Palmer)

Making my way home through the Gayborhood I chanced upon a sight not likely seen in to many other places in the world other than SF’s Castro: a married, straight dude holding a sign announcing he seeks a succesful(sic) Sugar Daddy for help and advice.

I’ll talk about the compound sugar daddy in a while, but first more of the story, which focuses on the matter of sexuality. (Hat tip to Ned Deily.)

Bryan A. MacDonald was pulling no punches with his stance or desires. Armed with what I would call a bucket of courage (or a sack of crazy) he’d set up camp at Harvey Milk Plaza determined to land his elusive prey: a financial patron and generous mentor who can help him find the road to riches in trade for handsome companionship.

Mr. MacDonald – attractive, clean-cut, the father of a two-year old – hopes to be mentored by, according to his accompanying informational flyer, ‘father type that who can help out, pass on knowledge and brighten my life as I do the same’.

His direct approach might end up working best to accomplish his goals. He’s aware there’s a large group of Gay men who have a fetish for Straight married men. He describes himself as, “happily married, primarily straight, but, very open-minded and sexual. Also easy to get along with, who has respect and a desire to learn as much as he can.” No mention in the flyer how the wife feels about his plan.

… I love our City. Just when you think you’ve seen it all someone comes along and puts a new twist in the knot of, “Um, Alrighty Then”, and you find yourself completely amazed once again by exactly what it is to live here among all the unabashedly odd, weird and perfectly San Francisco people who populate our little 7 mile by 7 mile slice of heaven.

From the flyer, a not very good photo of MacDonald shirtless and pantless:

Back in January there was a flurry of media stories about sugar daddies, including this rather censorious local story from SFist (by Jay Barmann on 1/15/13):

Berkeley Students Whoring Themselves on Sugar Daddy Site to Pay Tuition

An “increasing number” of Berkeley students are earning thousands of dollars a month through the website, which is a “dating” site for sugar daddies and their “sugar babies” seeking “mutually beneficial relationships.” Modern times, kids.

UC Berkeley and UC Davis were ranked among the “Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools of 2012,” (though not in the top 20) with Berkeley seeing a 67% increase in whores, and Davis seeing a whopping 220% increase. And while we can’t confirm how many actual students this represents, it’s an amusing statistic given all the drama around tuition increases at the UCs in recent years. A gal/guy’s gotta do what a gal/guy’s gotta do to get that diploma!

… According to the site, which has a vested interest in making these arrangements sound better than they are, “the average college Sugar Baby receives approximately $3000 per month to cover the cost of tuition, books and living expenses.”

Note that the story is neutral about the sex of the sugar babies. Indeed, the Seeking Arrangements site (“The Elite Sugar Daddy Dating Site for those Seeking Mutually Beneficial Relationships & Mutually Beneficial Arrangements”) offers sugar daddies, sugar mommies, sugar babies, and male babies, although it’s slanted towards daddies rather than mommies, but is gender-neutral on the baby side; the homepage has two bits of text:

The Modern Gentlemen: You are always respectful and generous. You only live once, and you want to date the best. Some call you a mentor, sponsor or benefactor. But no matter what your desires may be, you are brutally honest about who you are, what you expect and what you offer.

Goal Seeking Sugar Baby: Attractive, intelligent, ambitious and goal oriented. Sugar Babies are students, actresses, models or girls & guys next door. You know you deserve to date someone who will pamper you, empower you, and help you mentally, emotionally and financially.

(There are a fair number of babies, some seeking a sugat mommy, some seeking a sugar daddy, some seeking either. Most are in their 20s, but the oldest is 40.)

There are a number of such sites, all advertising themselves as dating services. Here’s the story about Sugar Daddy For Me from BettyConfidential:

Feeling a little cash poor and lovelorn? Then click on over to, a dating site that promises you the man – and the bank account – of your dreams, sign up and start dating rich men today.

The pitch is to match young, attractive women who “want to be taken care of and treated like a princess” with busy, successful men who want “to pamper a special someone”.

Then it turns out that the site is gender-neutral on both sides (though its business is undoubtedly mostly in matching young women with older men):

The site’s founder tells BettyConfidential that his two million members – self-appointed Sugar Babies, Sugar Daddies, Sugar Mommas, Sugar Baby-Males and Gay Sugar Daddies – feel no shame in cutting to the chase.

So much for the sexual marketplace and on to the term sugar daddy. The English Daily site gives a gendered definition (the sugar baby is a woman), skirts the sexual side of the relationship in favor of romance, doesn’t mention age difference, and advances an etymology:

slang  A man who gives a woman money and gifts, usually as part of a romantic relationship.

etymology  Literally, your ‘daddy’ is your father, but in this phrase ‘daddy’ refers to any man who takes care of you. And ‘sugar’ is something that makes things sweet and enjoyeable [sic]. So a ‘sugar daddy’ is a man who gives you lots of enjoyable things, like cars and diamonds and money.

This is solid on the daddy side, but speculative (though plausible) on the sugar side. In any case, sugar daddy is a compound with a nonstandard semantic relationship between its parts; the meaning is something like ‘a daddy [in a special sense] who treats his partner sweetly [by providing money or gifts]’, but with the extra component of age difference.

OED2 also gives a gendered definition, explicitly mentions age difference (though stipulating that the man be elderly, not just older, though that doesn’t seem to be supported by actual usage), and makes no mention of any quid pro quo:

sugar daddy n.slang (orig. U.S.) an elderly man who lavishes gifts on a young woman; also transf. [see below for some transferred uses]

The first cite is from 1926, and then the excellent:

1935   P. G. Wodehouse Luck of Bodkins xxi. 266   The morning papers had come aboard, reassuring citizens .. that sugar daddies were still being surprised in love-nests.

NOAD2 and 3 continue the gendered definition but now specifies the quid pro quo:

informal  a rich older man who lavishes gifts on a young woman in return for her company or sexual favors.

Wikipedia degenders the definition, but refers to the relationship as affording companionship, though sexual relations are very frequently part of the arrangement:

Sugar daddy is a slang term for a man who offers money or gifts to a younger person in return for companionship.

Merriam-Webster Online improves things on all fronts (but now emphasizes the sexual side of the relationship; it also loosens the requirement on age difference, probably in recognition of changes in social practices) and adds a transferred sense:

1 : a well-to-do usually older man who supports or spends lavishly on a mistress, girlfriend, or boyfriend
2 : a generous benefactor of a cause or undertaking

Finally, AHD5 pretty much nails the current usage (including the transferred sense):

Slang.  1. A wealthy, usually older man who gives money or gifts to a younger person in return for sexual favors or companionship.  2. A wealthy benefactor to a charity or other cause.

The Wikipedia article provides an entertaining list of sugar daddy in popular music:

“Sugar Daddy” (The Jackson 5 song), a single by the Jackson 5 in 1971
“Sugar Daddy” (Thompson Twins song), a single by Thompson Twins in 1989
“Sugar Daddy”, a single by Nina Sky
“Sugar Daddy”, a song by The Badloves
“Sugar Daddy” (1999 song), a song from the off-Broadway show and film Hedwig and the Angry Inch
“Sugar Daddy”, a Christine McVie-penned Fleetwood Mac song from their 1975 album Fleetwood Mac
Sugar Daddy Live a live album by the Melvins
“Sugar Daddy” (The Bellamy Brothers song), a 1980 single by Bellamy Brothers

To which I can add a 2012 song “Sugar Daddy” by D’Angelo.

My favorite of these is the Hedwig song, seen here in the movie version:

The song begins:

I’ve got a sweet tooth
For licorice drops and jelly roll.
Hey Sugar Daddy,
Hansel needs some sugar in his bowl.
I’ll lay out fine china on the linen
And polish up the chrome
If you’ve got some sugar for me,
Sugar Daddy, bring it home.

Black strap molasses,
You’re my orange blossom honey bear.
Bring me Versace blue jeans
And black designer underwear.
We’ll dress up like the disco-dancing jet set
In Milan and Rome.
If you got some sugar for me,
Sugar Daddy, bring it home.

Oh the thrill of control,
Like the rush of rock and roll,
It’s the sweetest taste I’ve known,
If you’ve got some sugar bring it home

When honey bees go shopping
It’s something to be seen.
They swarm to wild flowers
And get nectar for the queen.
And every thing you bring me
got me dripping like a honeycomb,
And if you’ve got some sugar for me,
Sugar Daddy, bring it home.

The lines

If you got some sugar for me,
Sugar Daddy, bring it home.

(in which sugar refers to sex) serve as a refrain for the song.

About the film, from Wikipedia:

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a 2001 American musical comedy-drama film based on the stage musical of the same name about a fictional rock band fronted by an East German transgender singer. The film was adapted and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who also portrayed the title role. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask.

2 Responses to “sugar daddy”

  1. Jay P Says:

    guess it didn’t work out so well, he’s also whoring himself out on adam4adam as “strait4u”. don’t the sugar mommies want him?

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    6/20/15 story in The Economist:

    Paying for college: A teaspoon of sugar: A very old solution to a new problem
    As the cost of university has risen, so has the number of “sugar babies” who pay for it by selling companionship and sex to wealthy older men. Monthly pay for this is typically about $3,000, though some “sugar daddies” offer much more. According to SeekingArrangement, a firm based in Las Vegas, two-thirds of sugar-baby graduates have no student debt.
    … The boom is fuelled by increased acceptance of “sugaring” (dating for money), says Steven Pasternack, the owner of a Miami firm known as Sugardaddie.

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