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"Sex is part of the package." 24-year-old Alex on what it's really like to be a sugar baby.

Most women have probably wondered at least once in their adult lives what being a sugar baby actually entails.

In particular, what differentiates it from sex work.

The dating phenomenon involves younger women seeking older, wealthy men through an online service whereby they’re paid for their company with lavish gifts and large sums of money.

Watch the preview for the 60 Minutes segment on sugar babies below. Post continues after.

Sex, as the website Seeking Arrangement outlines, is of course at the user’s discretion and not strictly part of the service, but usually expected by the men who initiate a meeting. For the women who benefit financially from these arrangements, they’re aware of the expectation.

Tonight on 60 Minutes, Sarah Abo spoke to sugar babies and sugar daddies living out the ‘sugar’ lifestyle. And for some women, they see it as a source of empowerment.

For 24-year-old Alex, her full-time job as a junior executive in Melbourne wasn’t enough to fund the lifestyle she wanted. So she turned to sugar daddy sites.

She sees it as similar to the way many other young women date and meet men on the internet, only with an added bonus of the exchange of cash.

“I’ve got friends my age who go out to clubs, they use dating apps, they’re hooking up with guys, having sex with them, and never seeing them again, whereas I don’t want to waste my time with that,” she explained.

“I can go to a sugar daddy and even if the sex isn’t great I’ve got money out of it at the end of the day.”

60 Minutes
24-year-old Alex is currently in an arrangement with 60-year-old Bob. Image: 60 Minutes
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When asked if she sees her sugar baby lifestyle as "setting back the female cause", she says no.

"I think it's quite empowering as a woman to know that you can just be yourself and that you can get paid for it."

Her latest sugar daddy, 60-year-old Bob, is open about the fact that his financial support comes with conditions of a sexual nature.

“It's not a charity,” he said, adding that "sex is part of the package".

“For a woman to find a guy who's going to be extremely generous, without expecting sex in return, I would have thought is more the exception than the norm," he added.

Another Sugar Daddy, Nick, started using the website after his second divorce to just "have some fun" and surround himself with young, beautiful women.

He says he's even hired women from the site to hang out in his office purely for their looks, and he's been known to fly large groups of women to music festivals.

"Sugar Daddy" Nick. Image: 60 Minutes.

Having "control" over the women he meets on the site is what he finds most appealing.

"I went to, uh, a music festival, and I took like 25 girls, all paid for, just flew them in from all over the United States," he told 60 Minuters reporter Sarah Abo.

"It is an ego boost, yeah. It's fun, though."

On hiring women as "decoration" - as Sarah put it - he said: "I don't make them do anything that they don't want to do, but you know... They're there because they're young and beautiful, absolutely. I do have criteria."

Sugar Baby Alex, who makes between $1,000 and $2,500 a month through her arrangement, agrees with Nick and Bob; she, too, believes sex is just another form of currency in any "normal relationship".

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"The way I look at it is if you're in a relationship there's usually transactions of money in a relationship.

"It's just the way it is, like your boyfriend might buy you something. He might buy you gifts or he might take you out for dinner and, to be honest, your boyfriend is going to buy you better gifts if you have sex with him than if you didn't have sex with him. It's sort of the same as a sugar daddy."

Alex doesn't see it as exploitation at all, and the Seeking Arrangement creator, Brandon Wade, says this was always his intention.

He, too, says "every romantic relationship is transactional", and his website simply means people aren't "beating around the bush".

Seeking Arrangement CEO Brandon Wade. Image: 60 Minutes.

In his view, he’s successfully rewritten the rules of romance, creating an open line of communication, and giving young women the opportunity to make money purely for being beautiful, and knowing what they want.

"A Sugar Baby would be typically younger, ambitious, who know exactly what they want and they want to set really a higher standard for who they date," he said.

"Why would you settle for dating a loser? I mean you wouldn't. You want to set goals, you want to be somebody that can actually help you advance your life.

“If you are poor and you are constantly hanging out with the poor people, you're never going to find opportunities in life,” he explained.

Many have criticised Brandon over the years, including UTS Professor Peter Fleming, who says despite these women willingly seeking out this method of funding their lifestyles and making the choice to supplement their incomes this way, they are ultimately being exploited.

"These are people that are genuinely economically desperate who need to pay for their university fees," he said.

"If we think about the last resort trend of young women turning to sex work in order to make ends meet... This Brandon Wade business model has basically found a way to exploit that desperation."

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