I just turned 40. Everyone said this is the year I would feel liberated and alive. I was recently divorced from a physically abusive man and was starting a new and exciting life for myself…until I got knocked up by a much younger man.Read More
At the center of my heart, there’s a Fool. That’s what I used to call you. To myself. To the steering wheel. To the dream of you that still visits me sometimes if I’m tired enough and not paying enough attention to the space I occupy, to the home I keep. Fool. You are not welcomed anymore.Read More
She looks at you like a lover. My younger sister tossed the words casually over her shoulder while making a pot of coffee. It would be an insult to deny what I knew was obvious. Especially now that our mother was gone. She had been an insistent, persuasive force: beautiful, charming and deadly. In fact, she had killed my father.Read More
The dream begins at my mother's funeral. I stand on the podium telling her secrets to a sea of faces.Read More
Like many girls, I love me some Beyoncé. So of course I was hooked when ‘Flawless’ came out. What’s not to love? A song all about being sexy and perfect? Yes, please. “I woke up like this” quickly became my go to mantra. If I could just fake it till I made it, if I could just keep listening to this song, I could convince myself that I too was flawless. My inner Beyoncé would finally be set free, and all the bitches would bow down to me. Yes, I needed to be flawless.Read More
Word Witch Rebecca Cook, offers up advice for your lovely little heart. If you need advice, you can email her (lunawordwitch @ gmail.com)
Dear Word Witch,
Are our bodies inextricably linked to our interpretation of the universe?
Rub your open palm against your bottom lip inside out really fast it will taste very raw very copper very dry as your feet once dried caked muddied that was a good day, you see. It’s you. Look up. Your foot. The achieve of the thing. Your thumb. Or another fruit. Your mother’s bright spoon. What happens when the window opens onto the desert--you’re standing there an expensive pair of boots a hot wind you’ve dreamed more than once the brown bottle beside the cotton balls. A redhead blows smoke past your ear. You reach up and also to listen. There is a sound. A baby tooth. Your toe touches the face of a man who understood what it is to be good and it’s you again. Something you swallowed. Your hand, your fingers. The window closes. Cotton ball sting to blister. The redhead has blown past you entirely now. Briefly, you inhale. You separate yourself from your daughter’s hair your mouth from what will become of her. And you are born and born again a loop atop your father’s shoe. That it would come to that. And from it, too.
Dear Word Witch,
I am old. Everyone wants me to pretend that I am not old; to dye my hair, to go out dancing until the wee hours of the morning, to talk about Beyonce more and long-term care insurance less (if it all). I don't want to do these things. I just want to be old, because really, it's kind of a relief. How do I explain this to people?
-Please Let Me Alone
Dear Please Let Me Alone,
This hair this chin these forty fifty perhaps a century will sip its gin straight will come this way across the field what a fine rough linen dress she can afford neither caring the line above the lip the hairs there, that were not before time’s grip around the hip creaking the knee the softened what squishes weakened what bends a woman this one shedding sloughing the girl her world would be entirely without mirrors without paints and the hoists to hold her in, only a pansy in her hand the socket wrench she’ll plunge the sink herself now she’ll sit uncovered the blistering deck smoke confidently and fuck too the barn roof is falling in the staircase squeaks she walks up and heaves what was, what has gone quite grey, quite lifted of head quite refined husky boned and hooved fallen back into love, October fleshy, she smells the dusk stink relief a bottle opened and reopened and released its breathe very fine then shallow then, let loose.
Dear Word Witch,
I am distressed beyond reason at the tiny blond chin hairs that have suddenly begun to sprout with regularity. What to do??
-L of a certain age
Dear L of a certain age,
Tiny blond hairs are best gathered in late September best stored beneath the bed of your young lover’s house slipped into the chinks of the logs the lake the mountain, of course it would be France and she would be you again it would be snow again and your hair is long your breasts are themselves again by the window you wear white, you braid and ribbon and woozy lean forward catch yourself mid-romance catch yourself falling into the straw this time, onto the wagon this time, another world this time no hitch, no drought too soon, no veering off course a steady star you will steer clear over your golden hair, that promise those apples those fattened hams, the newel post, your hand encloses it back to the cusp back to that girl the sharp air to Utah before daughters coiled tight, before love, you can pluck them free of her and gild her again leathern her boots silk stockings turned down but such fine feet, still, wrists chin too and brows wherefore mourn this small basket of baby hairs?
Dear Word Witch,
Deepak Chopra says, “God is the union of all opposites.” Is this more of his blathering or is he onto something?
- A Seeker
Dear Right Reverend,
Begin like this. Bring a cheap silver dipper and a coil of rope. Walk outside your village and you will find a burro there, packed and saddled. Mount and ride west for three days until you find an open plain with no grass upon it. Ride into the middle of where you find yourself, dismount, stretch your legs and lean forward. One of two things will happen. A fount will spring up, or a hole will open.
When a healthy person wakes up from a good night’s sleep, they feel refreshed and ready to take on the world. When I wake up from eight hours of mostly interrupted sleep, my bladder’s burning, my abdomen hurts, my joints are achy…my whole body could use another eight hours of sleep, maybe even a whole week, maybe even a lifetime if it were up to me. I don’t get up from bed, I crawl out; at least that’s how it feels—arduous, strenuous.Read More
LB 3251 [PLAYGROUNDS (SCHOOL)]: Lower lip, two white lines. The first time, I fell off a slide. The second time, a boy named Anthony pushed me off a preschool jungle gym because he said I was in his way. For the record, Anthony, I wasn’t. Both times, I went to the hospital for stitches and my mother held me down.Read More
When many people think about witches, they imagine solitary old women living as outcasts in the countryside. They wear black dresses, own cats, probably brew some potions, and cast sinister spells. While I do enjoy cats and wearing black, being a witch today means something pretty different to me. Sure, I’m a nature-worshipping pagan, but I live in Los Angeles. And I love it.Read More
What I cared about at this time—2011, March through June: distraction. Not fixing anything yet, just pushing it all away—it hurt, it burned me. I cried in the shower, loud enough for my housemates to hear, I howled, and it made no difference in my body.Read More
Seeking Arrangement, a website that connects potential "sugar babies" with sugar daddies and mamas, has been around since 2006, but about once a year some enterprising reporter seems to discover it anew, thus provoking another round of incredulous blog posts and Tweets.
I signed up with Seeking Arrangement in 2010, when I was living in Brooklyn, NY and—due to rent, road trips and too many visits from the weed delivery service—somewhat cash-strapped. But more than that, I was curious. Single for more-or-less the first time since age 17, this was the same time period when I first began blushingly perusing the Craigslist casual encounters ads. I wanted adventure. I wanted money. This seemed like a good way to satisfy both needs.
So I created a seekingarrangement.com profile, carefully crafting my image as a young writer eager to rely on the kindness of strangers. And, soon enough, the messages began pouring in. What I hadn't accounted for was all the online communication necessary to weed the weirdos from anyone with potential—I can barely manage to keep in contact with the people I love, let alone find time or motivation to talk to would-be sugar daddies. I had all but declared the experiment a wash until one night in July when my house threw an afternoon party.
The afternoon party is only relevant because it involved a lot of drinking, early in the day. It also involved a lot of being around my most-recent ex, whom I was still living in the same house with. At some point, the combination of the two propelled me away from the crowd, up to my bedroom and onto Seeking Arrangement. I can't remember exactly how it happened, but I ended up agreeing to meet up with a man we'll call Dave at a bar in the Lower East Side.
Now, normally, you couldn't drag me from Brooklyn to Manhattan on a weekend if you told me there was a free Malbec, macaron and kitten party. The fact that I felt willing to do so explicitly says I was in no condition to do so. Because I knew my friends would try to stop me, I told no one. I snuck out, took that L train under the East River and considered what I knew about Dave: He was around 40. He was blond and a little stocky, according to his profile pictures. He was married (but no children). And he held some sort of job in the music industry.
This last bit was what made me settle on Dave, I think; we had exchanged messages about Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem, and he seemed like someone that, under other circumstances, I still might hang around. Sure enough, Dave did turn out to be easy to talk to. Conversation flowed naturally and normally, and I remember enjoying myself as we drank wine and discussed bands, life in NYC and why he was looking for a mistress. After the first round of drinks, he pulled out a wad of cash and handed it to me.
"Let me give this to you now, for your coming out to meet me," he said. "So you know I'm not bullshitting you. There will be a lot more if, you know, we decide you want to see me again."
I took the money sheepishly, without so much as glancing at how much it was, and put it in my purse. After another round or two of drinks, the entire day of drinking had really caught up with me. "I'm starting to get dizzy," I told him as we stood outside the bar smoking cigarettes together. "Let me put you in a cab," he said. "Or if you need to lay down first, my office is right around the corner."
Dave wasn't a bad-looking guy—a little chubby for me, a little short, but not bad. He looked a lot like the writer Chuck Klosterman, black-rimmed glasses and all. I'd been enjoying hanging out with him, and wanted him to like me. Plus, laying down did sound nice. "Let's go to your office," I said.
That is pretty much all I remember. If you're thinking "Oh, no, she was drugged!"—nope. I mean, I'm 99.9% certain that's a nope. I was just really drunk, way too drunk to have even left my house, let alone go somewhere alone with a stranger. Luckily, Dave did not turn out to be a rapist or a serial killer or anything else nefarious. I woke up the next morning on a couch, fully-clothed, with a blanket draped over me and a massive headache.
The first few minutes of that morning were mind-boggling. I looked around at my surroundings: A very large loft space, with one entire wall of windows. A desk toward the back of the room, separated from the couch I was on by a pool table and a pinball machine. I checked by body: Clothes in-tact, no sign of forced entry. On the table there was a note: "Liz, you passed out and I had to get back to my wife. Take care--there's vitamin water in the fridge. Talk to you soon."
At that point, Vitamin Water sounded like manna from Heaven. I made my way to the fridge, which was entirely full of nothing but Vitamin Water and Red Bull (I took two of the former and one of the latter). Then I remembered the money Dave had given me at the bar. I checked my purse: $200.
It was only about 6 a.m. at this point, a beautiful July morning. I decided to walk home across the Williamsburg Bridge, and as I did—barefoot, carrying my painful shoes, downing the grape Vitamin Water, smoking a cigarette—I'd like to tell you I was thinking about how lucky I was that nothing bad had happened. But all I remember thinking about was that this had been a strange adventure and the sun coming up over the East River made the whole world seem beautiful and full of potential.
Back home, I messaged Dave apologetically, and a few hours later he messaged back proclaiming it NBD. He'd had fun hanging out and wanted to see me again if I was into it. But I was too embarrassed by the whole thing by this point—the drunkenness, the passing out, the very fact of meeting up with a sugar daddy. It seemed somehow, suddenly, sordid. I vowed not to see Dave or use the site again.
Conviction, however, has never been my strong point. A few weeks later, I accepted a request to meetup with a youngish lawyer who wanted to go to Roberta's, a wood-fired pizza joint near where I lived. I'd frequented Roberta's when it first opened, back when it was still BYOB; but now it attracted Manhattanites who would otherwise never set foot in Bushwick, and there was always at least an hour wait on weekend nights. I don't think there was anything particularly exciting about the profile or online conversation between me and the lawyer, but he was legitimately attractive—thin, Asian, shaggy-haired—and I really liked Roberta's, so I agreed.
It didn't start off on a good note. One of the first things he said to me was "I'm not really looking for a sugar baby; I just thought this seemed like a way to meet cute girls."
This annoyed me,of course, because I wasn't looking for a boyfriend. I felt tricked, which is never a good way to start things off, and dude also turned out to be that awesomely obnoxious combination of boring and cocky. It became clear within about 10 minutes that we had absolutely no conversational chemistry. Later that night, I left him dancing in a group on the Roberta's patio, insisting he should stay and have fun and I could find my own way home, thanks.
My third and final foray into becoming a sugar baby involved a man who called himself Ralph. After the first two attempts, I decided maybe I needed to go more against type. Ralph looked to be in his 50s and his profile pic was him standing next to Dick Cheney. Bingo. He asked me to meet him in Midtown for tea, because he didn't drink.
Over tea, he told me how he lived in Connecticut but worked in the city (I want to say he lived in Greenwich, but I think that's just mis-remembering out of stereotype). He kept an apartment here for when he worked late. He hinted at belonging to either The Carlyle Group or the family that owned The Carlyle hotel, I couldn't discern which. After barely a few minutes of conversation, he wanted to get down to business: "So what kind of financial support are you expecting?"
"Ummmm .... uh ... I don't know."
"What kind of arrangement are you seeking, then?"
I didn't have a good answer here either. I am the worst sugar baby ever, I thought, and went with the ol' 'What are youuuu looking for?"
What Ralph was looking for was someone to meet him at his Midtown apartment, once or twice a week, for sex. Each time we met, he would give me $300, with bonuses for good behavior. Occasionally, he might want to go out to dinner or take me to a work event. His directness was admirable yet off-putting. Did I want to see the apartment when I finished my tea?
I agreed, though I was pretty certain this was not going to work out. Ralph looked like an older Baby Huey, and seemed to have a high-school nerd's chip on his shoulder. Back at his apartment--which was entirely empty, save for a few kitchen goods, some clothes in the closet and a mattress on the bedroom floor--Ralph cozied up and started kissing me. He smelled awful. "Tell me about what you were like in high school," he said.
"I ... went to Catholic high school for a bit, and then switched to public," I told him. "I got good grades. I ... was a cheerleader."
"Mmmm, my little cheerleader," Ralph said. "Did you wear a short, short skirt? Did you naughty things with the boys?"
Oh, gawd, it was too much. I can abide bad x-rated talk from someone sexy, but this just would not do. Unfortunately, Ralph was much less understanding than Dave. When I tried to politely excuse myself from the situation, I was met with more pawing and a side of guilt trip. I am probably going to regret admitting this, but I gave him head because it just seemed like the easiest and quickest way out of the situation. The whole time, he talked about my cheerleading uniform and Catholic school jumpers.
Afterwards, he gave me $300 and asked when he could see me again. I told him I would be out of town for the next two weeks (true) and would get in touch when I got back. I never did.
As I took the subway back to Brooklyn, I thought about all the different 'arrangements' I'd encountered people seeking. Anyone who looks at or uses the website can attest that the desires are diverse. There really are folks looking for totally non-sexual arrangements -- people to take to events, people to provide companionship, people to take shopping because they (the men) have shoe fetishes. There are sugar daddies looking for someone to fulfill all sorts of specific fetish requests, and those looking for an old-school style mistress arrangement (some complete with housing!). There are men who simply want a girlfriend that's hotter than they may get without a little financial incentive. There are those who really want genuine companionship, and see this as a short cut. There are those who want a girlfriend who won't make as many demands on them, whom they can essentially pay to not have hardcore needs and wants of her own.
And there are men, like Ralph, who mostly just want to pay women to meet them for sex. I guess in doing what I'd just done, I had just made myself a "whore." It didn't bother me too much, partly because I've turned down free drinks at bars from guys my whole life (part feminist principle, part misanthropy). I'd never expected or wanted dates to pay for me for anything. Meanwhile, I'd watched so many girlfriends over the years fool around with dudes they just weren't that into because they bought them jewelry, whiskey sours and concert tickets. 'Whoring' is just a matter of degrees, and I couldn't for the life of me believe this was qualitatively different than that. But really, most importantly, I just don't think having sex for money is necessarily anything to be ashamed about. I respect sex workers and I respect sugar babies. We've all got to eat, and some of us really don't like working in retail.
Nonetheless, I never met up with anyone from Seeking Arrangement again. Avoiding awkwardness is pretty much my MO in life; and my preferred method of dating is to have enough drunken conversations with someone that we start sleeping together and sleep with each another enough that we start considering ourselves a couple. Finding a sugar daddy seemed too much like traditional dating, and that was 100% what I did not want.
I feel like I should come up with some moral to this story, but there really is none. As far as takeaways: 1) I suck at being a sugar baby and 2) sugar daddies come in all stripes. Maybe this is my moral: That there is no one type of woman or man using this site, and its silly to make blanket conclusions about them. And maybe that you shouldn't get wasted before meeting a strange man for drinks? But, meh, I can't even say that with much conviction, because it worked out just fine for me. Maybe my moral is just that there doesn't need to be a serious moral served up with stories like this. Sometimes we randomly decide to meet strangers for strange sexual arrangements, and it's really just not that big of a deal.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this piece appeared on lunalunamag.com, our old site, in 2013.
At 17, I gave away my virginity to my ex-Mormon, pre-crackhead boyfriend with the words, “if you’re going to do this you should use a condom.” I grew tired of saying no. His desires were stronger than my boundaries. I chose to love through sacrifice.Read More
Ms. Naughty is a multiple award–winning independent erotic filmmaker whose work has always struck Luna Luna as beautiful, smart, and sexy.Read More
In Mandy De Sandra's first advice column installation, she will answer reader's questions about their ‘kinks’ and fantasies. Of course, Mandy will share personal advice and recommend a book to further explore their fantasy or fetish. Feel free to send a question via the form below.
Question: Mandy I have fantasies about spiders crawling on me while I touch myself. Is this weird? Should I ever try it?
Mandy: Spiders have a sexy strut don’t they. They are a very sexual being, they basically cum houses. These bukkake homemakers are sexy, and your fantasy is normal. I write a lot about creatures and naughty idea that are taboo, with common sense we can really fulfill our fantasies. I think a good golden rule is if I want to make the fantasy a reality and it involves another breathing being—I need to get permission.
I personally recommend the book “Arachnophile” about the lust for a spider. Through fiction and fantasy we can find ways to play out our fantasies. Books are good too cause you only need one hand.
Mandy De Sandra is a Department of Labor worker by day but an erotica writer at night. Mandy is a #BizarroFiction#Erotica author, and more work can be read in Vice, The AVClub, Jezebel.