I graduated from Princeton and became a sex worker

‘The most practical training I received at Princeton was how to suck dick’

We’ve all heard jokes about Princeton students moving on to become “finance fuckboys”. But what about fucking boys for finances?

Meet Tessla Coil – dating coach, Princeton grad, and former “sugar baby”. Sugar dating technically differs from escort services in that it connotes a more long-term emotional companionship, but don’t get too hung up on the details–“I call myself a prostitute, sugar cunt, sex worker, whatever,” Tess says. “I don’t give a fuck about labels.”

She wrote an article for VICE about getting paid for sex after Princeton, and naturally we had a few followup questions:

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If you don’t mind me asking, how much money did you make? Or how much did you charge?

Oh, not enough. I charged about $500 per meeting, depending on where I was. I really didn’t make that much money, I made rent for a summer, I made enough to live off for a few months in San Francisco but ultimately it wasn’t any more lucrative than any other job.

I mean I guess it was a little bit, but it wasn’t like…there was never any extravagant anything. Like one guy brought me weed from Colorado once, so that was pretty cool.

Such a romantic gesture…

It wasn’t like, ‘Here’s some Manolo Blahniks and a Prada handbag and fifteen-hundred dollars and all you have to do is suck my dick,’ like no. That’s not how it works.

It’s not that luxurious.

No, it’s another fucking job…I mean it’s literally the same as any other business.

If I had built up enough of a client base to get really good referrals and been able to work entirely on my own instead of using a website as a portal, then yeah, I’m sure that I would have been able to move up to the point where I’m doing a lot less work for a lot more money.

But that’s the same as every other profession I just really didn’t feel like putting in the work in that area.

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I was curious to know what you thought about people in the comments section of the VICE article going “this is a waste of Ivy League money.”

I think it’s funny that people are like, “This is a waste of a Princeton education”. It’s like, “OK that’s incredibly judgmental.” Like, ‘You don’t need any well-educated whores.’ I mean honestly my clients would probably argue that you do.

So I just thought it was really funny, I thought it was a bias we still have toward sex workers and women in general.

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Were you in an eating club?

I was in Tower – I know, I should have been in Terrace. I spent a lot of time at Terrace. I was one of those Tower-Terrace people.

How was your sex life on campus?

It was very robust, I mean, I went through – fucking, I don’t know – like 30 percent of Tower? It was an interesting time in my life. I mean I definitely had my fun on campus and hooked up with a lot of people…looking back I think I’ve definitely learned a lot about the mechanics of sex.

And it definitely made me better at autopilot sex and sex that I got paid for. It definitely made me better at it. [Laughing] That was the most practical training I received at Princeton was how to suck dick.

Tess (back row in white dress) and Princeton friends chilling on the Tower wall

I also read in your article for VICE that you had a reputation as an “aggressively sex-positive slut”. Is there any way you could expand on that?

Oh yeah that’s true…definitely at Tower everyone came to me and was like, “Sex question!” I was kind of the person to talk to about anything weird. I would be like, ‘No I’ve done that, no big deal.’

When my friend lost her virginity I had a party. I bought her champagne and took her out to dinner.

That sounds brilliant. I wish someone did that for me.

Right? I thought that was the best, how else could you celebrate losing your virginity?

Yeah I was gonna ask what your thoughts are on the whole hookup culture at Princeton.

I think the party scene at Princeton is very much people trying to be like, I dunno, “see, we get drunk too!”

But I think there’s also a reason why there are so many graduates who are alcoholics. And I think it’s because the idea of “work hard, play hard” really means, “I’m so goddam fucking stressed, when can I drink to get rid of it?” I think that’s really what that means.

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And I think the dynamic of the university sets that up. I think that Dean’s Date sets that up and reading period and all of those things set up that mentality.

So in terms of hookup culture I think that it piggybacks very much on drinking culture at Princeton, which is like, ‘I’m very, very, incredibly anxious about this aspect of my life, let me go to this aspect of my life to hopefully release some of that anxiety.’

Do you think that’s a dangerous kind of cycle to go down?

Yes, I think it’s definitely an emotionally vacuous one. I think that a lot of the relationships at Princeton are transactional already, because we’re sort of taught that we’re not worthwhile on our own, we’re worthwhile based on what we can produce and what we can give and what we can achieve, whatever exterior thing we choose to focus on.

It’s never, “you as a human being are awesome”, it’s like, “you’re awesome because you started your own business before you were 21 and also did these four things”, you know?

So I think people have a little bit of “resume dating” at Princeton. Which I think is interesting but not necessarily any more insightful or profound than dating someone based on what they look like.

Do you think it’s easier to find sexual partners on campus versus when you graduate and you’re out in the real world?

It’s definitely easier finding girls to hook up with on campus, like I’m at a loss as to how to act like I’m bi – I don’t know how to approach girls I’m not good at it, and at Princeton it was so much easier ‘cause girls would come up to me.

Other than that…I’ve never noticed a real difference between Princeton and not Princeton in terms of finding what I want. Except for girls.

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I think a lot of what I liked about Princeton is that everybody kind of knew each other and you were never more than two steps removed from anybody at all. So you guys would have a mutual friend in common or a friend of a friend in common.

So I think that’s one thing that we didn’t focus on a lot at Princeton and we sort of focus on the “oh we’re going out” but that’s not really true. You’re going out with your tribe to places that you already vibe with.

I think that that is sort of lost in the way that our social system is structured at Princeton but I think that’s actually the most important thing to concentrate on once you graduate is like, if you’re looking for a romantic partner, look through your friends. Go places with your friends to places that you guys enjoy, and then you’ll connect with people that are like you.

Did you have any memorable moments, during your experience as a sugar baby, any good experiences any bad experiences that you want to share?

There was one, I’ve never said this before and if I gave away any identifying characteristics he would kill me, but I did meet one guy who had gone to Princeton.

So we bonded over that, and I just thought it was hilarious. 

I also read about that one guy in the VICE article, the “Baby Doll Murders” guy…?

Yeah that guy was super creepy.

“One of the men I met up with was the personification of all my friends’ worst fears. He lied about his job, his apartment, and his name while interrogating me about my birthday and background, to see if I qualified to be pinned to his board. He took me back to his apartment against my better judgment, where we role-played abusive father and obedient-but-scared daughter as he bathed me with baby soap and powdered my ass. He clapped his hand over my mouth and told me, “There is much love in abuse.” Over his shoulder, I read the title of his manuscript-in-progress, The Baby Doll Murders, as he told me his elaborate plans of starting a harem with women of all backgrounds and specific zodiac signs. “I’ll give you a little sister to play with,” he said. “You can do to her all the things I’m going to do to you.” He asked me to stay the night but I demurred, and he texted me as I left, “I want you to do this because you love me, not for money.” I answered, “Yes, daddy,” and ignored his other messages.”

Have there been other times when you’ve been really scared like “what am I doing right now?”

No, that was the only time because after that I was like, “welp, I need to change the way that I approach this, clearly.” It was not fun, for sure.

 

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Do you think there’s a market for sugar dating at Princeton?

Oh that’s really interesting. Um. For sure if you go into New York.

The problem I’ve found with New York sugar daddies is that they were so demanding, it was just like because they were paying they felt like…what they really wanted was someone who would act like their girlfriend and do whatever they said. Because a lot of them were finance guys and they felt like they were bossed around all the time and they wanted someone to boss around.

So I think that there is definitely a market if you choose to go into New York, but honestly it’s a big job. It’s as big a job as working a job outside of school is. And the Princeton jobs that they offer are super easy. I guess dining services is pretty intense. But at least you’re with your friends all the time.

But if you decide to do it, it’s like you’re working an off-campus job in addition to going to school. So it would be a big stretch but I don’t see why it’s not possible. I think also, I dunno, campus culture around sex is a little strange.

Have you been back for reunions? Do people ask you like “oh what are you doing now?” What do you say?

Honestly for me reunions is just about trying not to black out because everybody drinks sooo much at reunions it’s just impossible, I hate it…

…I did psychedelics one year my second year at reunions. I did some psychedelics and it just – ugh, it was awful. Just sitting on the edge of the dance floor, just watching everybody just get so drunk that they couldn’t see straight. I was just like, “why are we here?”

Honestly I didn’t like Princeton very much at all. I don’t like campus culture, I don’t like the way the administration treats its students, I don’t like the way the students treat each other, I don’t like the way the professors are expected to behave.

I don’t like the observance of traditions for no reason – the fact that we’re arguing about Woodrow Wilson at all, like who is he? He’s the most minor historical figure who gives a fuck if we honor him or not? It just doesn’t matter.

Throwback to Tess's theater days at Princeton

Throwback to Tess’s theater days at Princeton

So many of the things that we decide to make matter don’t matter at all. I think that is a very good encapsulation of what privilege is, the ability to choose what does and doesn’t matter.

Princeton is an incredibly privileged institution and we do nothing with that. I don’t know. If I had to go back to school again I would never go back to Princeton. I don’t regret going there, but I would never go back.

Was there anything about Princeton that you liked?

I mean the people I met were amazing. I have my best friends in my whole life from there. Some of the professors I met were incredible, the grounds were beautiful and that made a difference…

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Tess and Tower’s bouncer, Cary

…I just don’t agree with the way that stress is accepted and encouraged at Princeton because it’s a recipe for a really unsatisfying life.

I know too many people–like the sugar daddy I dated from Princeton–who never ever let go of the idea that power is the only thing that matters, and that you get power through money and through stress and through labels and through having other people defer to you. He was looking for me, you know?

He found me and was like, ‘I can’t deal with the fact that I’m always a dad or a boss or a husband and never just myself. No one wants me just for being myself, everyone wants me because of what I can give to them.’

I think it’s a big red flag that I didn’t date any uneducated sugar daddies. None of them were self-made millionaires because they worked really hard from the age of 14. They were all rich because they went to good schools and got good jobs.

And they were all unhappy [laughs]. I was sleeping in my car and I was happier than them. It was a very sobering wakeup call I think for me in terms of wishing I had anybody else’s life because everybody deals with the same issues at some point.

Is there anything else that you would want to be in this article?

I think one thing – if there’s a place for it in the article – is to definitely say the best thing that you can ever, ever do for yourself is start being yourself as early as you can. As soon as you start thinking, “this might be who I am,” go for it.

Because that’s the only way that you’re really gonna find out anything about yourself or be happy.

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I always thought I was a writer and I didn’t write a goddam thing at Princeton. And I wish so much that I had. Because it would have started me so much sooner on a path that I wanted to be on because sooner or later you’re gonna do the thing that you’ve always wanted to do, it’s just about when you decide to do it and there’s no reason not to start now.


Check out the trailer for a documentary on sugar babies that Tess features in:

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