Let’s Talk Sugar Interview – Brook U
Let’s Talk Sugar Interview with Brook Urick, LTS Brand Manager
Addis: How did you get started with working for Let’s Talk Sugar?
Brook: I started working for Seeking Arrangement back in 2013, based here in Las Vegas. When I was in college I worked at Sephora, and I did some assistant freelance makeup on the side. I ended up being a makeup assistant for one of Seeking Arrangement’s photo-shoots (because we’re all here in Las Vegas) and I ended up meeting Brandon Wade and Jennifer Gwynn (who is now the VP of Seeking Arrangement) and she offered me a job. I went to school for journalism, and so she offered me a job in the PR department. I ended up doing the interview 7 months later, and the rest is history! So, we started Let’s Talk Sugar in 2015 as a YouTube show, and it was sort of a way to inform sugar babies about the lifestyle and help them understand it in a fun way. YouTube was really blowing up back then, and then we expanded it into a content hub, and now we have over 100 contributors who are all sugar babies and sugar daddies who write for the blog. We also have a podcast and we still do the YouTube show as well.
Addis: Awesome, that’s really cool. Would you ever try being a sugar baby or recommend it to a friend?
Brook: One of the reasons why they wanted me to work there was because I had dated some sugar daddies but I didn’t really know what a sugar daddy was when I was dating what people would now consider sugar daddies. From living in Las Vegas you end up meeting some high rollers and things like that, and I ended up dating one guy; I was only 20 years old and he was about 35. He lived in Florida, and obviously I live here in Las Vegas, so he would fly me back and forth, going on vacations, buying me designer bags that I’d never heard of, etc. And of course he wanted a real relationship, more of a live-in girlfriend, so I ended up breaking that off. But it was interesting to learn about that lifestyle, and when I talked to some of my friends about it they told me about Seeking Arrangement; they said “Well, you should get another sugar daddy!”. And I was like “I don’t think I’m going to do online dating, that’s not cool yet”. So I didn’t do anything on Seeking Arrangement, but ended up doing makeup for them years later. And on set they were like “This is the founder of Seeking Arrangement” and I said “Oh! I know about that! I had a sugar daddy, I think?”. And of course, I went to journalism school so I was a good candidate for the job. I would recommend to anyone to have standards and to not be afraid to have people spend money on you and buy you things. I know that a lot of women and men are uncomfortable with that. They feel that they will owe someone something if they get money spent on them, or they feel that they want to go Dutch because they want to assert their independence. However, you can be perfectly independent and perfectly assertive and still have someone pay for your dinner.
Addis: So how you explain the process for someone who has never heard of it? What is sugar babying? What is sugar daddying? How is this process defined?
Brook: Well, Seeking Arrangement is a dating website and what makes it unique is that we encourage our users to be upfront and honest about what kind of relationship they want. This includes how much time and money they have to devote to that relationship. And while that’s not for everyone (some people like to have mystery and never talk about money and never be upfront with what they want, or otherwise have a traditional relationship that may someday end in marriage), but people on Seeking Arrangement are usually not looking for marriage, they’re not looking for a traditional relationship, and not looking for the confines or expectations of a traditional relationship. This is why they come to the site. But there is some confusion, a lot of times when people get there they don’t understand what it is and they don’t understand how it’s different, which is why we have Let’s Talk Sugar and put so much content out there. But for someone who’s looking to be a sugar baby it’s really up to you to redefine your own relationship expectations. For a sugar daddy it’s a lot about convenience. A lot of them are businessmen who travel frequently, a lot of them are CEOs. They’re wealthy and often times don’t have time for traditional relationships. They’re often divorced, they have kids, some of them are married, and they don’t want to have a girlfriend. They don’t want to be asked about the future and when they’re going to settle down and have kids and things like that so on Seeking Arrangement they are not expected to do those things. Also, for sugar daddies the ratio is very favorable: there’s about four sugar babies for every sugar daddy. And there’s an assumption that sugar daddies have a little bit more to offer than a regular guy out there on a regular dating app, so they get a lot more attention. But it’s positive attention, so rather than messaging back and forth and maybe, eventually meeting up with someone they’re able to get more of an immediate response because it’s assumed that they’re going to be able to provide a certain lifestyle.
Addis: Do you think there are any emotional barriers for sugar babies to overcome? Are there many who “quit” so to speak?
Brook: There are a lot of emotional barriers, I would say that some sugar babies go into the site looking for a boyfriend or relationship, or fall for their sugar daddies. And if you want to be honest about that then you can be honest about that, and maybe find that for yourself. And then, on the converse, there are some who aren’t looking for relationships at all, they’re just looking for money. But these people are also doing it wrong. I guess if you’re just looking for money you should just try for a job instead, don’t try to find that in a relationship. So there is a lot of misconceptions about it and with that there are a lot of people who think that the site doesn’t work or that it’s not for them. And maybe it’s not a site for everyone. We don’t really feel the need to advertise the site, people come to Seeking Arrangement of their own volition, whether or not they fully understand the concept of the site. That’s kind of up to them; whether or not they’re going to have success and have a full understanding of what this site is and how it’s different from a regular dating site is also out of our control.
Addis: That’s interesting, and what do you think people find dangerous or taboo about sugaring and how do you use Let’s Talk Sugar to kind of combat those ideas?
Brook: Well, online dating is always a risk. There’s always concern surrounding safety and the Internet provides a kind of anonymity so people have room to be jerks. Seeking Arrangement is a fertile ground for people who use the notion of giving someone money to then scam them. It’s the oldest scam in the book: “I’ll send you a check for $2000 and then you send me back $1000”. And many sugar babies are new, a lot of them are young and have never heard of these old school “Nigerian Prince”-like Internet scams. So as a result they often lack common sense, so we have all kinds of content and information out there to protect them. We tell people to not give out their username and password to their banking account much more often that you think. I feel like that might be obvious but it’s truly truly not. I get emails everyday from sugar babies saying things like: “Oh, I just had a great conversation with a potential sugar daddy, but it’s strange, he wants me to send over my username and password. He seems really sincere, should I do it?”. And I just have to be like “No dear, you absolutely should not do that”. So I think that in general is something that we just are working really hard to combat. We’ve grown exponentially in the past few years and it’s become a target for these types of scammers. And it’s not just Seeking Arrangement, it’s an entire Internet problem. Do you listen to podcasts?
Addis: Yes, I do actually.
Brook: There’ this podcast called Reply All about the Internet, and they did this investigative report on a scam. It was so interesting to learn about people in other countries and how they view scams and scamming people in the United States. Often times, they don’t view it as a scam at all, they view it as a legitimate business. It’s perceived that way because we seem like over-privileged people with way too much money and not a lot of common sense. To them it’s like “They have money to spend on all these things so why not scam them”. So this isn’t really a Seeking Arrangement specific problem, it’s an Internet-wide problem, it’s a global problem. The sugar lifestyle has a tendency to let people believe that these scams are real, and I think that it’s a common thing among dating sites in general. Once you trust someone then your common sense goes out the window.
Addis: How has sugaring changed over time? In general, do you think it’s become more popular or attractive in relation to rising living costs and people wanting to have that higher standard of living?
Brook: So the sugar lifestyle isn’t something that we invented; we’re not coining that. The only thing we invented was the optimization, we just invented the website that helps you find those people. But this is a tale as old as time, but more people are becoming accustomed to the idea that true love maybe isn’t just love. Maybe there are other components besides just love, maybe there’s some part of it that has to do with what that person can provide for you. So I think that as people are able to be a bit smarter about their relationships and the age where people start to get married is increasing I think that you don’t have to find someone right away or even in college. You have options. You can have many different kinds of relationships, and as that idea grow so does Seeking Arrangement. I know that a lot of sugar babies who have been in the lifestyle for a long time don’t like the fact that we do press and don’t like the fact that we’re growing because they want to keep it all to themselves. They also feel that the more we talk about it the more the lifestyle is open to discrimination, but I disagree. I think the more we talk about the lifestyle the less opportunity there is for stigma. The more you’re open about your sugar life the less power people have over you to judge you. Think about it: if you’re hiding it, doesn’t that mean that you see something wrong with it? Why wouldn’t someone think there was something wrong with it, people hide secrets! If you’re positive, open, and not ashamed about the lifestyle then you have the power to change that public stigma. That’s how I’ve seen it change, but when I first started here nobody really knew what Seeking Arrangement was. Now everyone knows what it is, so it’s becoming a lot more accepted, but with that the critics are still going to be there.
Addis: Definitely. What are the most popular cities for doing sugaring? Is there an area where this lifestyle is more popular than in others? Or are there more sugar babies in one area and sugar daddies in another?
Brook: Yes, this has to do with costs of living and just population density of the area. The number one city is New York, number two is LA, and that’s just for general member base. We also do a study of our data that lists the top cities for sugar daddies per capita. It’s based on how many sugar daddies there are in every 1,000 men in the city, and Atlanta has been the number one city per capita for a while. I don’t really know why that is, but I think it’s because they are more akin to that lifestyle down there. For a lot of people, the mentality that you have to make the connections that are necessary to get you where you need to go makes sense, and Seeking Arrangement is a perfect for them. But also, if you’re not into making connections so to speak then that’s also fine, but if you want to get ahead it’s usually based on who you know. This comes to fruition with Seeking Arrangement because there are so many successful guys out there who don’t have time for traditional relationships and don’t want to waste their time in bars. They want to have a kind of short cut and just meet those people on Seeking.
Addis: Do sugar babies tend to fit a certain image? Do they often fit a certain size, weight, or race? Is there a lot of diversity of sugar babies or daddies?
Brook: Yeah there’s a lot of diversity, just because anyone can join the site. We do a have a profile approval process which isn’t based on looks or income or anything like that. It’s more based on us trying to figure out if you’re a scammer or a sex worker. Anyone can join the site and anyone can be a successful sugar baby. There’s actually a case study about a sugar baby who is 50 or 60 and has younger sugar daddies. So really, it’s all about adding value to someone’s life, and if you can add value without tying them down in the way that traditional relationships ensue then I think you can be successful here.
Addis: How do you combat prostitution and other things like that happening on the site?
Brook: We manually approve each profile in-house before it goes live, which can be annoying for our more impatient members who are wondering why approval is taking so long or why they didn’t get approved. But there are many reasons why we wouldn’t approve someone. We search their pictures in a data base to make sure those pictures aren’t being used on any sex worker websites or Back Page. We also want to make sure that they’re not available on Instagram or anything like that because we want to protect people’s privacy. We also have a lot of internal and external mechanisms to prevent illegal activities from happening on the site, so we have member-reporting put in place. We also have message-flagging available, which is helpful because it lets us know that a user is probably not using the site the way it’s intended to be used. In general, the people on our website are not looking for that, so it’s not so hard to find a sex worker. The thing with Seeking Arrangement is that people are actually looking for connections and relationships. If you’re not looking for that then you’ll get ousted by the community. But of course, there working on ways to improve the quality of members on the site. We’re also working towards AI techniques and some machine learning to get these people off the site and help us with that so we don’t have to do it manually. It’s a never ending battle.
Addis: Is there like a “hierarchy” within sugaring? Can you “charge more” if you’re more desirable or a better candidate?
Brook: Well, sugar babies aren’t charging or being rendered for said services. It’s a gift. So if you are a sugar baby who needs to pay tuition and lives in New York City then you need more money. You can ask for more reasonably, so it’s really more based on need rather than a quality of service.
Addis: Right, that makes sense. And what’s an average amount of money that a sugar baby makes?
Brook: So these statistics are based on self-reporting and vary by city. So cities such as New York are going to have a higher allowance, but I think the median across the US is $2,600 per month. That can include tuition payments, rent, trips, gifts, dates, etc. It’s basically setting a budget for the amount of money that you want to spend on someone. I’ve heard this several times from sugar daddies, but they say that it can actually be cheaper relationship because you budget for it. They’ll say “Hey, I have $3,000 to spend this month and we can spend it in whatever way you like”. It’s really about knowing how much you want to invest beforehand and finding someone who meets that need.
Addis: Right, it’s a relationship, so you’re not contracting a legal document or anything. It’s just like any other relationship.
Brook: Of course.
Addis: And one last question: If our readers at Bitter Blush can take away one thing from this conversation what should that be?
Brook: If you’re interested in Seeking Arrangement go into it knowing what you want and do a little bit of research to understand the sugar lifestyle. Because in any relationship if you don’t know what you’re looking for or “just trying this out” you’re probably not going to be successful.
But also, if you want more content you should listen to our podcast, it’s the Let’s Talk Sugar podcast. The first episode is about sugaring and media, and we talk about a lot of these modern dating ideals. Rate and subscribe!