One of my first priorities after moving to New York City was to find a sugar daddy. In high school, I’d only had crushes on my teachers. There was something about their seniority, the fact that they’d been doing real adult things when I was a baby, that Mr. Fogel remembered Reaganomics, which really did it for me. And, of course, I needed money.
I created an account on SeekingArrangement.com. The website markets itself as “online dating for successful and attractive people,” although the assumption is that you are one or the other. For my user name, I chose something WASPy- Warren Wilson. Maybe his parents cut him off because he’s gay! my suitors would think. What a shame. But now I know he will be accustomed to the high-class functions and exclusive soirees to which I will bring him.
I wasn’t a hot commodity. I only got one message in the first week, from ‘easygoingNYexec.’ His bio went deeper: ‘easy going ny exec looking for a live-in bottom.’ I had just signed my lease and bought a dildo ‘training kit,’ so I wasn’t ready. Things dried up after that. I told myself it wasn’t that I wasn’t attractive, but that my height and beard made me appear older and less in need of help than the clientele desired. Also most of the sites’ features lay behind a paywall, which I found antithetical. I guess it’s kind of similar to the Costco model- pay up at the beginning, then after a while you can afford to buy almonds. I just didn’t have the patience.
So I made a Tinder for Warren, and I moved the age limit all the way to ‘50+,’ as high as one can go. Past 50, says Tinder, it’s all semantics. I matched with an elderly gentleman named Nico. Some minor sleuthing revealed that he was an Italian aristocrat and a full-time artistic philanthropist. He had a full head of salt-and-pepper hair and the wizened smile of a late-era Versace. Seeking Arrangement could take their paywall and shove it 2, someday 3 inches up my ass.
He moved our conversation from Tinder to WhatsApp, the app du jour for international men of business. Things moved quickly. “Hello American prince,” he wrote. “I am flying to Miami tomorrow, but tonight I am free.”
We met at the cocktail bar of the Mandarin Oriental, a hotel I’d heard about in rap songs. He was, as advertised, old; I noticed a limp in his step and a few of those mysterious splotches on his arms. We hugged, and I took in his cologne: a dense fragrance that recalled liquorice and being trapped in an elevator.
A waiter walked us over to a plush leather couch by a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Manhattan. His name was Jared, and he’d be taking care of us. Your average server might be taken aback by our age difference, but not Jared; this was the Mandarin Oriental, and he’d seen his share of powerful business tycoons and their secret boys. My date ordered a whiskey and I got a cocktail with chocolate in it, hoping it would make me seem young. “Excellent choice,” said Jared.
I listened intently as Nico regaled me with tales of his philanthropy.Our drinks arrived, mine in a martini glass topped with cacao twirlies. We clinked our glasses together and he took me in for the first time.
“You’re quite handsome,” he said. “Have you thought of doing modeling?”
I knew I shouldn’t buy it. But then again he was rich, and rich people don’t lie.
“What? Ha ha, no I’ve never thought of it.”
“You could,” he said. “I know, I’ve worked with a lot of models.” He opened his Instagram. They were mostly white boys, ‘twinks,’ with hairless ‘skinny abs’ and disproportionately large bulges. “I took those pictures,” he beamed. “Such beautiful boys.”
Then he showed me an older, olive-skinned guy staring out of a full-length window in stripy undies. “That’s Maxime,” he whispered. “He was murdered.”
“Oh!” I said. “How’d that come to be?”
“Well, he was dating another model, George. They were both so beautiful. So pretty. Such pretty boys. But you know, when there’s two beautiful people, there will also be jealousy. So Maxime, he was booking more pictures, and he told me that George was not liking it. Then one day I get a call, they said Maxime has killed himself, has jumped off the roof of his apartment. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it for one second. I know Georgie did it and my friends think so too.”
“Woah.” I pictured my glamorous new life as a model- photo shoots, soirées, getting murdered. I lay my hand on his thigh.
“Tell me more about you,” he asked. “Where do you come from?”
“Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. I lived there with my parents, who are poets.”
“Artists…” he whispered, recalibrating his impression of me. “The son of artists…”
I hoped he’d take this to mean I was poor.
“Have you ever been to Pittsburgh?” I asked.
“A few times,” he said. “To visit the Warhol.”
“Oh, I love it there!”
“Yes, I have a piece as well. Andy was a friend. He gave it to me.”
Remember Johnstown, and the flood? I inched a hand up his thigh as he showed me the portrait on his phone. It was a petite lady, a brunette probably, refracted in four quadrants of red, blue, purple, and black. “Breathtaking,” I whispered.
He slid his fingers into mine and I felt the cold bump of a wedding ring. A rich chocolaty bile shot up my throat; if he was married, he could have children, grandchildren even. I imagined him and his wife on Christmas, sitting at the head of the table with wry, nostalgic smiles as they watched their progeny feast. There’s a grandchild, a little cherub they call Teddy, who loves his granddad so. Teddy grows up to be a cop; he’s walking his beat one day when he gets a call about a dead hooker on 14th and Lex. “Not another one,” he sighs. “This city’s got more hussies than Hades.” To his surprise, this one’s a man. Teddy bends down and slides a little black book out of the victim’s back pocket; “Warren Wilson,” he reads. He starts flipping through the pages, and suddenly finds a number he recognizes, the number he used to call after getting money on his birthday… he steadies himself as his childhood comes crashing down around him…
“Oh, that?” said Nico. “Decorative.”
Jared brought a huge opaque balloon over to the woman behind us. He sliced it open, amber smoke billowed out, and she inhaled it before tasting her drink.
Nico finished the last drops of his whiskey and set the glass down with authority. He turned to me, eyes ablaze. I thought of Finding Nemo, when the friendly shark smells blood.
His lips were surprisingly moist, excessively so, but I only had a moment to taste them before the tongue took over. It darted in and out of my mouth, probing my depths like a dog licking peanut butter from a chew toy. I did not enjoy it in the slightest.
He extracted himself just as Jared arrived with the bill. I made a show of reaching for my wallet. He stopped me, as per the script, but said: “You can get it next time.”
“You can get it next time. In Italy, when people go out, we don’t split the bill- we just take turns paying.”
He’s being polite, I rationalized. And he’s teaching me about culture!
From there, he whisked me to an upscale gay bar around the corner. The host was a muscular white gay, and this time I sensed judgment. He seated us in a corner booth, away from patrons with morals. Nico kissed me again. He re-inserted his tongue, deeper and with desperation, as if rescuing a Thai soccer team trapped in my esophagus. I couldn’t fake it anymore and froze.
“What’s the matter, bello?”
I knew this was my chance; I had to make my intentions clear, before I subjected myself to more humiliation, for free.
“I guess I’m just kinda worried. My job’s not paying enough, and…” Here I bit my lower lip, à la Kristen Stewart. “I can’t pay my rent.”
“Hmm…” he frowned. “Well, I might be able to help you get a new job.”
“What… kind of job?”
“I have a friend who does copywriting.”
“Oh. I’ll think about it. It’s just that, if I can’t get the money soon… I’ll have to move back to Pittsburgh.” I said the name of my hometown the way students in porn say detention.
“Oh that’s okay, I’ll visit you,” said Nico.
“Bill told Monica he’d visit her in prison,” I muttered.
At this point he leaned in but I turned my cheek, allowing him to plant sloppy kisses up and down my neck. I stared out at the patrons in the club, pathetic. Many of them had ‘pecs’ bulging out of their ‘v-necks’; these people could find sugar daddies, but they didn’t need to. Meanwhile here I was on a Tuesday, letting a 64-year-old man molest my neck for free.
He called me an Uber after I stopped making eye contact. I truly thought he didn’t get the hint. He didn’t seem phased or insulted by my propositions; he seemed oblivious. But the next day he sent a text: “The son of two poets,” it read, “could not be more different.” I would have killed to hear those words during my adolescence, when I sought rebellion by becoming firmly anti-literature. “Rhyming’s for fags” was a favorite quip. But now, they destroyed me.
Ramsey Daniels is a writer and stand-up comic living in Brooklyn. He’s also a RuPaul’s Drag Race super fan and iced coffee aficionado. Twitter: @ram_punzel, Instagram: @rampunzelofficial Image: Eke Miedaner via Flickr (cc)
Gem Blackthorn is QMT's Sex Columnist, and the author/curator of Lust Thrust Thursdays. Send her your submissions and questions at sexsexsex [at] queenmobs.com