|Illustrated by Kazuhiro Kawakita|
ABCニュース（2009年10月30日付）は、“‘Sugar Daddy Ken’ Doll from Barbie Line Raises Eyebrows”と報じた。玩具メーカーのマテル社が、バービー人形シリーズの1つとして“Sugar Daddy Ken”の人形を登場させることになったが、その名称に人々は眉をひそめるという。
バービー人形が誕生して今年で50周年。ケンは長年にわたるバービーの〝ボーイフレンド〟だ。ところが、来年春に発売される予定のケン人形は、銀髪の上、フロリダの高級リゾート、パームビーチでよく見られるリッチな中年男性向けの粋な服装で、白い犬を連れている。マテル社の広報担当者は、「この犬の名前がシュガーで、ケンはシュガーのパパです。だからシュガー・ダディ」と説明している。だが、この説明を聞かないうちは、ケンが“Barbie’s Sugar Daddy?”（ケンはバービーの〝おじ様〟？＝CNBC）という憶測をたくましくしてしまう、というわけ。
sugar daddyの語は1900年ごろから使われるようになったが、最近はsugar mommyあるいはsugar mamaの語も登場。女性の社会進出につれて、若い男性を囲う裕福な「おば様」も珍しくなくなった。一方、面倒をみてもらったり、援助を受ける若い男女は、sugar babyと呼ばれる。
インターネット上には、“Mutually Beneficial Relationships”（お互いに有益な関係）と題する出会い系サイトが盛況だ。その勧誘の文句には、“Rich and successful. Single or married, you have no time for games. You are looking to mentor or spoil someone special.”（金持ちで成功者。未婚、既婚に限らず、出会いの機会がないあなた。誰か特別な人の面倒をみたい、可愛がりたいと願っているあなた）などと書かれている。
こうした年齢差のある恋愛関係は、“age disparity in sexual relationships”（性的関係における年齢の不均衡）と呼ばれている。“age of consent”（性的同意年齢）は各州政府が法律で定めており、16歳から18歳。だが、現実には、こんな規定が守られているわけではない。２人の関係が、性的虐待などの事件やスキャンダルに発展しないかぎり、大して問題にならない。
“Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.”（年をとったからといって、恋をせずにいられるわけではない。でも、恋をすることである程度、年をとらずにいられる）。つまり、「愛があるなら年の差なんて」というわけだが、何事もほどほどに。The Sankei shimbun (November 30 2009)
America's 'sugar daddy' scene moves to Britain
Parties at which young women agree to enter relationships with wealthy older men in return for large sums of money are set to take place in Britain having developed a following in the US.
The American organisers of "Sugar Daddy Parties", where "mutually beneficial arrangements" worth tens of thousands of dollars per month are struck over cocktails in New York nightclubs, are now seeking venues in London.
Denying that they are encouraging prostitution, they say they already have thousands of British "sugar babies" waiting to meet rich patrons. Typically, they are women in their late teens or early twenties seeking to pay university fees or fund glamorous living.
"We have perfected our parties and are now ready to launch in even bigger markets like London," said Brandon Wade, the chief executive of Seeking
Arrangement. "We are due to start early in 2012."
A recent party at New York's Hudson Terrace bar was attended by about 600 people. "Daddies", aged 38 on average, were charged $100 (£62), while "babies", typically 12 years younger, paid $40 (£25). Women outnumbered men by two to one, the organisers claimed.
While some guests struck lucrative deals on the spot, others exchanged phone numbers for further negotiations. "$500 per date is common," said Mr Wade. "But we know of arrangements worth $10,000 and $20,000 per month."
Among the daddies was Gianni Russo, a 67-year-old actor from New York who appeared in The Godfather and has been married 10 times. "I am just an old man looking for a friend," he told onlookers, as Pretty Young Thing by Michael Jackson played over the sound system.
The host, Alan Schneider, who says he has a background in "entertainment", described the events as "elegant, classy and refined".
Beltkiss Ocon, a 25-year-old paralegal, turned down an offer of $1,000 (£620) in "dinners and outings" from a man who called himself Mike. "He was very arrogant and pompous," she said.
Other young women sipped $16 (£10) cocktails bought by suitors whom they agreed to see again in the following days. "I don't think there is anything bad about this," said one, with an eastern European accent.
Mr Wade claims that two of the top 10 from Forbes magazine's list of wealthiest American billionaires are members of his site and use it to maintain their romantic lives.
Seeking Arrangement already has thousands of British members on its website, which encourages striking deals online. Male members, many of whom state that they are married, are charged $50 (£31) per month. "Sugar babies" can join for nothing.
Demi Maguire, a 19-year-old student from Stevenage, is seeking a sugar daddy to pay her up to £1,800 per month for a relationship. "I'm looking for someone to sponsor me so I can go and do some volunteer work in Tanzania and Uganda for a few months," she said.
Others have ended their connection after unpleasant experiences. "I had a few dates through it, because I wanted to meet a different type of man," said Natalie, a 24-year-old from Staffordshire. "But lots of them just saw it as a high-class hooker service."
Mr Wade, 41, rejected suggestions that his company was encouraging prostitution. "People may feel obligated," he admitted. "But no one is required to do anything that they don't want to. There has to be chemistry, otherwise the relationship just would not work." The Telegraph (Oct 28 2011)