- A New Orleans-based undergraduate who pays the majority of her bills by sugaring is, like many sex workers, unable to see clients and make a living during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Sugaring is a dating dynamic in which a “sugar baby” dates a “sugar daddy” in exchange for gifts like a weekly payment (or allowance), vacations, and dinners.
- One of her clients is a man in his 40s who is immunocompromised, and she worries about passing it on to him.
- “It would not be safe for us to even have a meeting in the near future, so that’s going to be tough,” Lee told Insider.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Some college students have lamented about cancelled graduations and having to wave an early goodbye to their friends as universities across New Orleans announced they would be closing their campuses for the semester in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
But one 20-year-old undergraduate, who spoke to Insider and wishes to remain anonymous, had other concerns on her mind.
She primarily pays her bills by sugaring – a dating dynamic in which a “sugar baby” (usually a young person) dates a “sugar daddy” (often an older male-identifying person) in exchange for gifts like a weekly allowance, vacations, and dinners.
Usually, her work as a sugar baby consists of seeing her two clients regularly and collecting her allowance during dinner dates and other excursions – adding up to around $US900 a month.
But because of the pandemic her clients are facing financial stress and medical concerns that are making it more difficult to earn income and make rent.
“I’m probably going to have to pick up another extra job or potentially carry the virus somewhere else if the person doesn’t care but I also really don’t want to do that,” she told Insider.
One of her sugar daddies is immunocompromised, making it dangerous to schedule sessions with him
Typically, with her New Orleans-based sugar daddy, the two go on dates in public areas before going back to his house. These sessions can last anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours.
But her client recently found out he was immunocompromised due to a newly-diagnosed medical condition. With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, for which there is not yet a treatment, she is anxious to schedule time with him out of fear that she may unwittingly pass it to him.
While she has not exhibited symptoms of coronavirus, studies show people who are asymptomatic can carry and spread the virus, and that has been borne out in anecdotes, too, from actor Idris Elba to Rudy Gobert, a basketball player for Utah Jazz.
So, she is limiting contact with her client because of the risk, which makes it more difficult to make money.
“It would not be safe for us to even have a meeting in the near future, so that’s going to be tough,” she told Insider.
Though she is concerned about her sugar daddy’s health, she says he is more concerned about an impending financial crisis. He is having to stay isolated, and take time off work to speak with his doctors, and with the global economy on tenterhooks, he may not have the surplus for a sugar baby anymore.
“If he can’t get the work done, he’s not going to have excess amount in the budget to spend on recreational things,” she said.
She is unable to travel home to see her other sugar daddy because her mother is in quarantine
Her second main client is based in her home state, but, she told Insider, she’ll have nowhere to stay because her mother is in quarantine, after being exposed to the coronavirus at work.
This particular sugar daddy pays for in-person meetings, in addition to giving an allowance for texting and virtual communication. He’s frustrated that she can’t make the journey back.
“It’s a whole thing of ‘how am I supposed to keep supporting you if you can’t actually do face to face?’ which is fair,” she said. “But, of course, now I can’t even attempt to go because there’s no safe place for me to stay.”
She worries that eventually, if she cannot travel home, her client will cut off communication and financial support, making it even more difficult to get income.
New Orleans is on lockdown and meeting in public places with potential clients has become impossible
Usually, if business was dry, she would hop online to sugaring websites to find other clients in the area. But, unlike online dating or virtual sex work, sugaring largely requires an in-person meet to establish their dynamic.
“When I have an initial meet I would choose a crowded area and I’d wear something detectable,” she said.
However, New Orleans recently announced the city will be closing all bars and limiting all restaurants to take out as the city goes on lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
This, she says, will just make meeting potential sugar daddies more dangerous because she would have to go to new client’s house – something she will not do for her personal safety.
“It’s actually more dangerous because there’d be nobody out to see,” she said.
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