Harlotry: How I Succeeded At Being A Sugar Baby

As I described that Women was about Charles Bukowski’s literary alter ego, Henry Chinaski, being old and ugly, picking up pretty young women with nice legs, holding on to them through pure talent and obstinacy, losing them, and learning from them… Dennis’ eyes lit up.

“So he’s a lot like me!” he exclaimed

I had no idea what to say to this. Had he missed the parts about talent? As I tried to formulate a response, I puffed on my cigar, inhaled, choked, and tried to conceal my disgust. I didn’t want to say that the only things that Dennis seemed to have in common with Bukowski were age, pitted skin, and a large nose, but I didn’t want to bolster his ego too much by telling him that Women was pretty much his life story.

“Well, I mean kind of?” I said, “But not really. It’s a lot different, you should read the book, you’ll see what I mean.”

“I’ll have to do that! I’ll pick it up on my way home,” said Dennis, “This Bukowski sounds like my kind of guy.”

Dennis did indeed pick up a copy of Women on his way home. He texted me excitedly a few days later to inform me that he’d finished it, was starting Ham On Rye, and couldn’t wait to talk to me about them. I had created a weird, eager monster. I’d expected him to read Women and either see and accept the differences between Henry Chinaski and himself, or decide that Charles Bukowski and his alter-ego were useless drunks with whom he wanted nothing to do.

Unfortunately when I saw him next, it was obvious that neither of these were the outcome: Dennis had obviously decided Charles Bukowski was his spirit animal.

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    • Lauren

      It seems like you really hate people. I have read a few of your stories and none of them seem favorable to anyone. I guess your line of work brings out the worst in humankind, eh?

      • Cate

        I don’t hate people, but I did really dislike most of my clients. This isn’t to say that there weren’t some truly sweet, if painfully awkward guys thrown in there, but they don’t really make the best stories.
        When I started stripping I began to encounter interesting experiences that didn’t involve terrible things and people but I haven’t gotten to that part of the story yet.

    • porkchop

      I’m imagining how this might have played out if you’d been reading another book.

      • Sam

        “Hey, this Harry Potter sounds like quite a guy!”

      • Cate

        This little exchange made me laugh.

    • Sam

      I hate to say it, but I agree with Lauren’s comment below. You’re a great writer and have pretty interesting stories, but you mostly seem incredibly negative (while somehow still seeming incredibly negative about “traditional” work, as well…). I want to like you because I think you have interesting things to say about the sex industry and whatnot, but it seems like you spend so much time criticizing individuals that you have chosen to spend your time with (and received payment to do so) that everything else you discuss gets muddled.

      This isn’t me trying to be a troll or anything; I genuinely enjoy reading about sex work and your history. But once in a while in these, I just feel like I’m listening to a sixteen year old complain about her boyfriend’s gross habits yet still opts to go to prom with the guy.

      • Cate

        As I said to Lauren, I don’t really hate people but I did hate most of my clients and until I started stripping, I certainly at least disliked all the ones who made the best stories. Part of my contempt for clients is also the fact that I am painfully shy and learned from an early age that if you can convince yourself that people are below you, they cease to be scary. It wasn’t until I was about 19 that I realized what a problem this was, and it’s still something I struggle with.

        My main problem with traditional work is always that it’s just as difficult but pays less money and affords much less freedom. I only have limited experience in the service industry, but probably working as a bartender for even an hour could show how degrading it can be. I have nothing but admiration for the people who do it without killing themselves or the customers who mistreat them, but it is not for me.

    • Wray Serna

      I am going to have to disagree with both Lauren and Sam. I feel like the main reason I like reading these articles is not only that they are interesting and have a nice flow about them but that Cate is honest. Its refreshing to read something direct and sometimes amusingly brutal but also to hear about ones frustration with work and inner workings of the mind. We all get frustrated with our work, even if we love it. Reading this gives me a sense of satisfaction that there are other people in the world who muse about their work and have the ability to put their inner dialogue into writing. I find this to be comedy and satire rather than negativity. I could just go on about how great all of these are but for now I will just say that I wouldn’t change a thing about them.

    • Jamie Peck

      I love your stories! I don’t imagine most prostitutes fall in love with their clients, so I’m not sure what everyone is complaining about. You weren’t hanging out with these guys for fun, and this one in particular sounds truly cringeworthy. The oral sex part especially grossed me out. (I imagined myself in your position and literally started to twitch.) Folks also have to remember that you’re writing about your younger, brattier self here.

      • Cate

        Exactly! I was still a teenage goth, even.
        I still am not as patient as I would one day like to be, but then? Dear lord was I bratty.

    • MM

      I hope there are a few more stories coming. You’re a solid writer and I find your stories really compelling. I’ve had some friends who dabbled in sex work and I always admired (and envied, a bit) the strength of character that it takes.

    • Renee

      Loving this series. It is fascinating looking into this profession!

      Seriously wish we would legalize and license it. It would make things so much safer!

    • Sarah

      “men are so very, very fond of their balls”


    • FayFay

      I want to be a sugar baby, but this article nearly scared me out of it! My first date is tomorrow.

    • kara ni

      Any advice for a aspiring teen sugar baby. Sex is obviously out of the question and i feel i have the required common sense and maturity level to handle it. why wait till 18? Its not like once i turn 18 i’ll be any different from now?(somehow 18 is the magical number where you supposedly become an “adult”) I would just like to hear some advice because i don’t want to be naive. Also, please no rude comments or judgments, I am preparing myself for college because i don’t want too much financial stress during college and only want to focus on my studies, hopefully my dream of being a bioengineer :)