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Brandon Wade in Las Vegas City Life!

Posted by Levine Communications Office on July 7, 2011

Pay for play

Brandon Wade’s dating websites push the boundary between courtship and compensation

If you crossed eBay with Match.com, you might come up with something Brandon Wade already invented. The Las Vegas resident and Internet entrepreneur specializes in websites that offer romantic relationships — or opportunities — in exchange for cold, hard cash.

Wade recently launched What’s Your Price, where beautiful people and paying clients broker for dates on the open market. Is it prostitution? Wade says no. Paying members aren’t paying for sex, they’re not even paying for a good dating experience. Instead, they’re paying for the opportunity to get their foot in the door with a person who usually wouldn’t give them the time of day.

Which sounds kind of humiliating, if you think about it. But the 100,000 or so users who already signed up evidently don’t think so.

There are two kinds of people on the What’s Your Price website: attractive and generous. Generous daters make offers to attractive daters, who chose whether or not to accept them.

“It’s just an opportunity for people who want to meet the women who are more attractive than the ones they usually date,” Wade said.

Although the website clearly states that the agreements do not include sex, it’s easy to see how someone might confuse it with prostitution. After all, Wade uses the same language as the escorts who pitch their products on the Strip — promising “company” and “dates” in exchange for money.

But those euphemisms aren’t Wade’s problem. If you ask him, he’ll say he’s cutting through the bullshit of dating. If one party has a lot of attractiveness to offer, the other should be able to put his financial cards on the table without feeling like a jerk.

It’s not romantic, but that doesn’t mean Wade doesn’t believe in true love. He thinks that relationships that start as a financial arrangement between a couple parties can blossom into something deeper.

Last time I talked to Wade, he was married to a woman he met through another of his web ventures. That website, Seeking Arrangement, matched sugar daddies or mamas with sugar babies. In exchange for money, sugar babies would accompany their benefactors on dates. Like What’s Your Price, that website never explicitly made sex part of the deal, although one suspects many arrangements probably included it.

Wade said his arrangement blossomed into real love. But like a lot of marriages, it fell apart.

Wade says his website injects honesty into the courtship game, allowing partners to know what they’re dealing with, financially speaking. After all, most relationships do have a financial element.

“All relationships involve money in one or multiple ways,” Wade said. “What’s wrong with being brutally honest about it?”

But finances aren’t the foundation of most conventional relationships, even if they do play a role. Wade disagrees, at least when it comes to relationships that are just getting started.

“Men buy the Mercedes-Benz to get the attention of women,” he said. “It is the primary thing in the beginning when you do not know someone well.”

Scroll through the attractive users’ ads on What’s Your Price, and you’ll find plenty of cleavage. In fact, the website kind of looks like an electronic version of the escort magazines you find near the Strip.

But Wade blames the media for comparing the site to a escort service.

“They love a controversy,” he said.

He has had to set a few of the users straight, though. Sometimes the men do expect sex at the end of the date and refuse to pay the attractive person for their time and effort. If the attractive user feels burned, she can submit bad feedback about her date.

The generous users have their complaints, too. Sometimes, they shell out their money for the date, and never hear back from the lady in question. To them, Wade suggests using the date as more than a get-to-know-you session. Instead, they should treat it like a lesson, a kind of internship in dating out of your league. Ask the women what interests them, and what makes a good impression. Then, the next time you pay for a date, put those lessons into practice.

Wade, who found it difficult to approach women before he started his website, says buying dates is no worse than using pick-up strategies.

“In those classes, they teach men to put women down and treat them disrespectfully,” he said. “Here we just want to them to be compensated for their time.”

Most of the men who use his site are professionals who don’t have a lot of time to pick up women or do a lot of online dating. It’s too difficult to make an impression on attractive women on a conventional site without resorting to monetary offers, Wade said. His site takes care of that.

Wade says he’s been seeing someone for the past six months, so he doesn’t use his website for his own dating purposes.

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