Some online dating sites have money-making twist
There's a new wave of dating websites drawing controversy and customers.
On these Internet sites, men pay for dates or arrangements and the women who sign up have no problem with that.
These lucrative love connections are happening all over the country, including in Houston.
WhatsYourPrice.com and SeekingArrangement.com are websites that let men put their money where their mouse is, all while women get paid for companionship.
Brandon Wade is the mastermind behind these websites.
"Some go as far as calling me an e-pimp, but I think I'm an e-cupid. Really, I created them because I was just having such a difficult time dating on other dating sites," said Wade.
He said the concept it is simple: Men want to meet pretty women and some women will choose money over looks.
"It is an arrangement," Wade said.
On What's Your Price, a man offers a "price" for a date and the woman can accept, decline or counter the offer.
Seeking Arrangements is the same idea but covers longer periods of time with monthly payments.
"At the end of the day, it is really about a party that is generous and another party that wants to be spoiled and pampered," Wade said.
Wade said Seeking Arrangements has 1.6 million members from around the world and more than 23,000 members from the Houston area.
Wade and many of the women on the websites insist the arrangements are not prostitution.
"I am attractive, so why not use that to my advantage?" said Hannah, a college student on the Seeking Arrangements website.
Hannah is what is called a "sugar baby," and so is Debra, who said by the second date her "sugar daddies" gave her money.
"They took me to dinner and they would just give me $400," said Debra.
Crissy, a college student, said her arrangements help pay her bills.
"The first time it will be dinner and drinks, very casual. Then you get into the whole, 'OK, well you are my companion type of thing now, so I can cover your book expenses or car note or rent,'" Crissy said.
All of them said the arrangements don't involve sex.
But a Houston member who calls herself Ginger said not only do some of her "dates" involve sex, but sometimes that is all it involves.
"Anything goes! There can be some limitations. It depends on the person. I have to feel comfortable for it to go any further, and I like it to be discussed before hand to know what they expect," she said.
Ginger said she uses both websites to meet men who pay for her time -- and more.
"I've met one that is the manager of a very nice hotel and I see him quite often still. It started off with sushi and then after that we just have a quick rendezvous once a week and I am gone," Ginger said.
While Wade said women using the website to earn money for sex are just misusing the system, his recent media blitz focused on members seeking 50 Shades of Grey-style relationships. Members are using names and phrases from the popular book to attract a companion.
"We are actually a direct beneficiary of the book because people who read it realize, 'Well, I want to find my own Christian Grey,'" Wade said.
Wade boasted 8,000 of the Houston profiles include references to the book.
"It is a completely different ballgame out there. Relationships form, people fall in love," Wade said.
Despite Wade's claims that members are just looking for love on the site, he has admitted that 40 percent of the men on Seeking Arrangements are already married.