real life

'I was 23 when I became a "sugar baby" to 58 yo James. We ended up falling in love.'

For more than 10 years, 29-year-old Harper Valentine has lived a life of luxury most 20-somethings can only dream of. 

Free lunches, concerts, expensive shoes, and designer clothing. Endless supplies of French champagne, pamper products, sex toys and lingerie

Not to mention the funding of her self-described "gaming addiction", including her PS5, Nintendo Switch and an Ocarina vessel flute, the musical instrument played by the main character of the game Zelda — which, for pop culture fans like Harper, is pretty special.

But it's not a high-flying corporate job providing all the goodies, and she's not a celebrity either.

Harper is a Sugar Baby. 

Watch: The scientific cause of sex addiction. Article continues after the video.

Video via Psych Hub.

That means, she gets paid — both in money and gifts — to date (and have sex with) wealthy, usually older men.

"For more than 10 years now, I’ve had many wonderful gentlemen be incredibly kind to me, which benefits us both," says Harper. 

"They regularly pay for lunches for me, especially when I'm feeling down or sick. When we go out they pay for all our food and activities.


"I had a client buy me a $400 pair of Nikes once because they were really into shoes and wanted to match. Another sugar daddy bought me a bunch of G-star RAW clothing because it was the only brand he ever wore.

Her favourite gift, though, was the Zelda-coded instrument, the ocarina, she says. "Both a cool and thoughtful gift."

Harper entered the sugar baby world at just 19, and says she didn't give it too much thought. 

"I just saw it as an accessible form of getting money and living a nicer life that was compatible with who I am," she says. 

Harper. Image: Supplied. 


But it did take some getting used to. Harper describes her first experience as clunky, and not at all what she was hoping for. 

"My first experience pretty much just looked like an awkward first date with $80 shoved in my bag at the end. But the money, gifts and pretty dates definitely kept me coming back anyway. Finding the right men and being a good sugar baby is definitely an art."

An art Harper has mastered. Meaning almost every Sugar Daddy she dates these days is a positive experience for both of them. 

"The men who try to see me are 80 per cent disrespectful, rude, creepy. They out themselves pretty quickly. The men who actually get to see me are almost all very respectful, kind, genuine people."

Aside from the stigma and the experience of being intimate with a much older man, one of the most commonly discussed aspects of the sugar baby lifestyle is safety. 

Harper admits there's no real way to guarantee safety, but there are ways to protect yourself. 

"I make sure I get proof of identity before ever meeting anyone. Technically, it doesn't assure my safety, but it does make them easy to hunt down or charge legally if they do the wrong thing."

Harper says while there are bad eggs, there's nothing inherently wrong with a man who chooses to be a sugar daddy. 


"They're men of all ages that are making good money and don't have the time or want for traditional dating. It seems like a pretty nice life, right? Why wouldn't I?"

"I'd had enough of lying men."

For 50-year-old Trudi Pavlovsky, the breakdown of her marriage due to infidelity was the catalyst for her exploration of the sugar baby life.

"I knew I still wanted affection but now any man who wanted me had to be prepared to invest in me and I wanted to remain emotionally in control," Trudi says.

"Professionally I had also been dealing with an issue which saw me have to rebrand my business. I saw this as a win-win. Money, connection on non-emotional terms, and a way to not feel old and washed out."

So, she made a profile, developed some boundaries and expectations, and created a structure for how and when to meet potential sugar daddies. Her first experience was a positive one, despite initial nerves.

"We met at the hotel and sat in the cafe downstairs talking and drinking cups of tea," she says. 

She had told a friend where she was and had a safety check-in arranged, which helped put her at ease. 

"We got along well and I admitted I was nervous and he actually said we didn't even have to go up to the room," she says. 

"Eventually we did. Had some bubbles and it all happened quite respectfully."

Trudi became a sugar baby in her late forties. Image: Supplied.


The next morning, the sugar daddy deposited two more payments into Jennifer’s account, but declined to follow through with the appointments, after saying he felt too emotionally connected. 

"He liked me too much, and he knew he would break his promise to himself about not getting emotionally involved with a sugar baby. We never spoke again."

While the money was great, Trudi says sugar babies need to be aware that not all sugar daddies were honest. 

"I had one man lie about his height, income, etc so he could meet me. He was nice but as he lied and he didn't meet my requirements, I accepted his shopping budget and then we didn't speak again," she says. 


In her late forties when she joined, Trudi says most of the men she connected with were aged between 40 and 60, but ages can range broadly for both sugar daddies and babies.

Trudi ended up leaving the sugar daddy business after media coverage on the industry caused the website to be flooded with dodgy would-be sugar daddies. 

"It felt more dangerous then."

Overall though, Trudi — who is now in a committed relationship — says the experience was a good one. "I felt great. I felt empowered and uplifted. After some bad luck in love and also in business I felt back in charge again."

Nova fell in love with her sugar daddy.

After turning to sex work while undertaking unpaid community placement during university, Nova Hawthorne found the judgement too much, and decided to interstate and try something different — Sugar Daddies. 

"I decided to change campuses and move to Melbourne at 23 to complete my studies. And that’s when I met James," Nova says. 

"Shortly before I arrived, I found his profile on a 'sugar' website — somewhere that wealthy men advertise for an intimate companion.

"He was 58, and I liked his straightforward and honest approach to sugar dating. We agreed to meet up one night in July 2019 and it was great. He cooked dinner at his place — and yes, the sex was incredible too."

James became Nova's sugar daddy and they regular time together. 


Nova, 29, fell in love with her sugar daddy, James, 67. Image: Supplied.

"I continued seeing other clients while still making time for James and we even enjoyed a weekend away together, which he paid for, but with no other charge."

Just before COVID, Nova found herself without accommodation, so James offered her his spare room. It was supposed to be temporary, but over time, something shifted in their dynamic. 


"It just started to feel like two people who like each other, living together, who have genuine affection toward one another. And one day I said to him, 'I think I really do love you,' and he said: 'I was never going to say it first. It always had to come from you.'"

Once their feelings had been declared, James wasn't keen on Nova seeing other men professionally, so she made the choice to leave the sugar baby business, and the pair commenced a committed relationship. 

"James and I have built a life together, set up a trust-fund for our investments... I never intended to fall in love with my sugar daddy but I did." 

While Nova and Trudi have left the sugar baby industry, and Harper has no plans to leave, all three women describe the experience as a positive one.

"I love the vibe of being a sugar baby," says Trudi. "It's a business arrangement, and when done correctly, two consenting adults can get their individual needs met and both thrive as such."

Harper agrees. 

"Really, we're just normal people looking to connect and trade things we're good at. I'm good at looking pretty, going on fun, entertaining dates, and other things. They’re good at making money and sharing their wealth of knowledge about the world. Let's form an alliance?"

Feature image: supplied.

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