Out of State
My friend told me the other day, while I visited her in her art studio, that there are people who fetishize giving away money to people who demand it online. The game is, she explained, that people post hot selfies and use hashtags like “cashdrain” and “paypig” and “walletrape” and all these other ones, usually some foot fetish mentions, and write something bossy like “No broke losers, pay piggies wanted.” Most of them don’t show their faces in the pictures.
I like the term “walletrinse” most, like it’s somehow cleansing to pay a stranger for no real reason. There is no promise of mutual benefit, like with certain live cam sites. There is not a financial goal that will unlock another screen, another image, another live sex act. It’s called financial domination (other hashtags are “findom” and “finsub”). We have no anecdotal evidence that any of these people get what they ask for, but I have to assume it sometimes works, since there are so many posts.
Sometimes I get confused about money and it accidentally feels cleansing to spend it, until it’s gone, and then I remember that money doesn’t work that way. Do these finsub people regret the payments? I always regret splitting the bill at a birthday dinner. I regret most online purchases.
What is the best compliment a total stranger could ever give you? I wonder if the “cash drainers” feel as turned on by payment as the “pay pigs” do. Money is an aphrodisiac, obviously. When my friend and I visited Lima, we ended up at a rooftop party in a gated community. We told our new friends that we had a dinner reservation at a restaurant overlooking the ocean the following evening. They laughed and repeated the name back to us, but we didn’t ask why.
Once we were there, we realized that at almost every table sat an older or very old man and a younger or very young woman. Then women were beautiful, with styled hair and highlighted cheeks. The dinner was expensive, especially for Lima, but we thought that that was because the view was so incredible. It was like we were sitting over the crashing waves at night. Girls all around us pulled the ribbons from paper shopping bags containing the gifts that would keep an affair alive.
Another friend recently asked me how much financial status and relative success matter to me in a partner, like he was testing me. Of course I’d like to say that they don’t at all, but that’s kind of like saying the person’s existence doesn’t matter. Everyone has a financial status, and I suppose it matters that a person is not staggeringly insecure about his or her own.
Does relative success mean relatively successful (all success is relative) or as successful as me? Success, measured financially? I hardly ever date people with social media accounts, so the numerical value of their popularity hasn’t usually come into play. If we’re talking about success as in self-satisfaction, I’m not interested. All I really care about is conversation and sex. I would care, then, if the notions of one’s net worth or career track inhibited them. That’s the most judicious answer I can come up with.
So often, I wonder how people get the money they must have in order to live in New York. People are good about keeping it a secret, but I am not. I will tell you how much I have in my bank account and how much I spend every day, what different clients pay me, and my rates per word for articles. I will tell you a breakdown of my taxes, the day I have to pay them, and then I’ll immediately forget.
I try not to talk too much about numbers, because those same people who keep their finances super secret, I’ve noticed, will tell me that I’m doing everything wrong. I should make myself a business, I should expense everything, I should hire an accountant, I should not have signed a contract. And then from them, on their own fees and budgets: nothing. They sublet their apartments sometimes, but I know that can’t be the only source. It’s best not to think about it, since the answer is always anticlimactic; it’s family money, in so many words.
The fantasy of a sugar daddy is one that we all now know takes a lot of work, and ruins a reputation. That’s not the only thing stopping women from courting the relationship, though. It’s that there aren’t so many to go around, and the rich men know it. An aging sugar baby is in serious danger of being dropped for someone younger. If they married you, you are still getting the axe, sorry. You just went one higher and became a trophy wife, but those are meant to be collected.
The motivation for becoming a sugar baby shouldn’t be that it’s easy. In fact, it’s really not. Fighting natural inclinations in order to appease a phony agreement is more taxing than waiting on tables, since it doesn’t have as many breaks. But getting paid to be sexy is a fetish, just like paying someone sexy is. The motivation ideally, is the fetish, on both ends. There is power in receiving money and there is power in giving it. Both exchanges, when sexual desire is involved, are taboo, but for some reason one is seen as submissive power while the other is understood to be dominating. To me, the designations feel arbitrary at best.
The exchange of money has always been intrinsically related to desire, and therefore it has always been peripheral to sex in some way or another. I love the idea of turning the actual bank account into a sex organ, asking for it to be filled or emptied. And the additional distance the blind messages and the multiple hashtags create. Does financial status and success matter to you in a partner? No, say the cashdrainers. What matters is that there is no partner, only the money itself, an extension of no one, an expression of nothing, only a representation of pure desire entering another.
In 1980 the French newspaper Libération asked Marguerite Duras to write a chronicle for them over one year. The pieces could be as long or short as she liked, so long as she wrote every day. Duras said a year was far too long and proposed three months instead. "Why three months?” her editor asked. "Three months is one summer long,” she replied.
"Agreed, three months, but every day!" the editor insisted. Duras didn't have anything planned for the summer and almost gave in. But then she suddenly became terrified that she couldn't plan her days as she wished. So she said: "No, once a week, about whatever I want." The editor agreed.
Last year Spike invited Natasha Stagg to do the same: one text a week, of any length, on whatever she liked. One summer long. For 2018 we wanted to it again, this is her ninth report.
NATASHA STAGG is a writer based in New York. Her first novel Surveys was published with Semiotext(e) in 2016 and is coming out in German from Edition Nautilus later this year. A new installment of Out of State will be published online every Thursday for ten weeks. Last week she wrote about writing this column, and about sex.