The idea behind Tag The Sponsor is simple. The anonymous founders of the site claim to be “disgusted” at all the “models” on Instagram who are actually prostitutes. So they post photos where the “model” is clearly being paid for sex but the “sponsor” paying her isn’t mentioned or shown.
They also pose as Arab sheikhs, contact the “models”, and get these women to agree to the idea of flying to Dubai and submitting to degrading acts for sums of money ranging between $5000 and $50,000. Once the women agree to be gang-banged or defecated on or molested with a live salmon, they publish the entire conversation to “bust these hoes”.
I’ll admit that when I found the site (via the infamous Derek K.) I was utterly captivated and I read it from start to end. I continue to check in once a month or so. It’s absolutely brilliant — but that doesn’t mean I feel good about myself for enjoying it.
As my long-time readers and/or friends know, I try to live in reality, which means that I am interested in the way things truly work as opposed to the way I want them to work. Living in reality can be upsetting and depressing, because it contains unpleasant truths like appearance matters more than what’s inside you and money matters more than talent ninety-nine percent of the time but it is fundamentally true and dependable. Part of living in reality means not lying to yourself about why you do something or why you like something.
If we are honest with ourselves about the appeal of “Tag The Sponsor”, it is this: the site attempts to humiliate and expose beautiful women for the crime/sin of prostitution. So why is that fun to read? More specifically, why is it more fun to read than, say, e-mail logs from the Enron scandal? Why is it more satisfying than FBI agents convincing suspects to commit terrorist acts?
Well, I don’t know about you but the appeal of the site for me, if I am completely honest with myself, is that it reinforces some core beliefs that I don’t like to admit having:
- Beautiful women are shallow.
- Beautiful women are stupid and easy to trick into making bad choices.
- Although most of these women are probably too good-looking to go out with me, they are whores and therefore they are valueless…
- …which makes their likely refusal to go out with me meaningless…
- …because I’m not willing to pay them…
- …scratch that, I’m not able to pay them those rates…
- …but it doesn’t matter, because I’m not interested in hookers…
A psychologically healthy person would say to himself, “Hey, you know what? That woman is too attractive to date me without money, and I don’t have enough money to pay her to go out with me as I am, so whatever she does is really none of my concern.” Virtually nobody is that psychologically healthy. Most men have an active dislike of women who won’t go out with them. So it’s satisfying to see those women degraded in some way. And the fellows who write “Tag The Sponsor” make it so funny:
It’s always a redflag when you see a do nothing bitch flying first or biz. But the flags be Redder than the devils dick when it’s a business class flight to Dubai. #ExpensiveWayToShipADiaper #EmiratesIsLikeTheFedexOfPriorityShippingHoes #WhatDoYouDoInDubai #WhyDoYouLiveThere #SponsoredByMohammedTheSheik #SponsoredBySabra #HummusCartelMember #SellingPussyForGaudyGiftsAndTips #TheRomanianHumnusExtractor #ProDickSquatter #ThisOneYouCanTellGetsAYeastInfectionWeekly #LivingLavishButNoSourceOfIncome #MustBeNice #GettingTaggedTeamedHarufiAndAbdul #EvenTheCamelGetsInOnTheAction #Trollop #PavementPrincess #ThisIsAllFacts #HoecialStudies #Hoethematics #TagTheSponsor
I mean, that’s a lot of vitriol right there towards someone you’ve never met, never will meet, whose only crime or offense is taking money for sex and then bragging about her lifestyle on Instagram. It doesn’t make sense until you think of the woman as someone who has turned you down so she can go turn tricks in Dubai. At that point, it’s easy to hate everyone involved: the sheikhs who became insanely wealthy through the pure luck of living above an oil reserve, the women who would rather have their money than a relationship with an American man, and the various entities, human and/or corporate, who benefit from the arrangement.
The only sane way to look at it is this: people who were lucky enough to be born rich giving money to people who were lucky enough to be born gorgeous, and none of it has anything to do with us. But there’s also the fact that hookers are people too. Just because a woman takes money for sex doesn’t mean that she’s a worthless person or that she is somehow beneath contempt. I’ve known a few very decent women who got paid for sex and I’ve known plenty more who got paid for “sex work” like stripping or fetish stuff. Is what they do degrading and demeaning? Sure.
Is it any more demeaning than sitting in an office all day, kissing the ass of your client or boss, and doing nothing tangible? Absolutely not. Robert Bly writes a bit about this in Iron John; he notes that if you can’t truly explain your job to your ten year old son in a way that makes immediate sense to him, your job is probably not very satisfying or even worthwhile.
“I’m a welder.” Makes sense.
“I put the left-side mirror on the Honda Accord.” Also makes sense.
“When people order french fries, I cook the fries, and put them in a bag, and serve them.” Not exactly like being a fireman or astronaut, but it still makes sense.
“I’m a Six Sigma certified project manager specializing in lean and agile technologies.” Fuck you; you’re a useless wart on the unwashed ass of corporate America and you’re part of the reason we can’t compete as a country on the global stage.
This is one of the reasons that I tell my son I write about cars for a living. He understands it. I could tell him that I fix computers for a living, but that’s no longer true. When I was at Honda, I always thought of my job as “keeping the production line going”, and that was something I could explain to the kid. I had a job after that where I designed a system for distributing custom oncology medication, and that was something I could explain as well. But my last few contracts have consisted primarily of “doing e-mail” and filling out internal requests and being a “gatekeeper for the integrity of our systems” and things that, if you explained them to a six-year-old, would seem even more ridiculous and Dilbert-esque than they are.
“Well, today I looked at a request that was in the system and I could see that they hadn’t filled out the storage request, so I did that and then I dialogued with the solutions engineer about…” The hell with that. I tell John that I write about cars. If he ever figures out that I couldn’t afford his lavish lifestyle on a car-writer’s salary, I’ll tell him that I clean toilets at night. He’ll understand that and anyway there’s something fundamentally honest and necessary about cleaning toilets.
So these broads fly to Dubai and some Arab guy takes a dump on their face and then makes them join a foursome with him on a yacht. How is that any better or worse than sitting in a meeting with ten people whom you personally despise and pretending that you value their opinion? I’m in a pretty decent team at my current contract but I’ve worked places where I thought everybody in the department would be primarily useful as a kidney or liver donor. I had a boss a few years ago, a director of the company, who was this sort of grinning nonentity. He lifted weights as his sole hobby, so he had a head that looked like Ron Howard’s on this really wide neck, and he always had this stupid look on his face like he’d just been given an extra ride on a children’s Ferris wheel or something. Every single thing he ever said was either a deliberate lie or a gross misrepresentation of events.
The day finally came when I went into a meeting with him, lost my temper, and said, “You’re an idiot and a wannabe tough guy and I have complete and total contempt for you. Everybody who works for you thinks you’re too stupid to be allowed to take a bath by yourself. When you’re in a weight room by yourself, you’re not the smartest object there.” Let me tell you, that was immensely satisfying and I’ll never forget the look on his face as I proceeded from there to call him out in the most forthright terms possible for ninety full seconds. The reader will not be surprised to hear that I didn’t work there the following day, although it sure as hell wasn’t the last day I collected a check from the firm.
That little diatribe probably cost me a quarter-million bucks in salary and deferred compensation. I know it cost me my ‘Cadillac’ health insurance. But it was worth it. By the time I was done with him I’d wiped the smile off his face. That’s a moment that I’d have been proud to have my son witness. But most of my days are pretty ordinary. I go to work. I go home. They pay me. It’s a living. No better than what Instagram “models” do. And I never even get to go to Dubai.
Of course, I have plenty of colleagues who do go to Dubai. Some of them like going to Dubai so much that they’ll write whatever anybody tells them to write, just so they can keep going to Dubai. I mean, go look at Lieberman’s Instagram and tell me it’s not exactly like the stuff that all the girls in Tag The Sponsor have on their Instagrams. A bunch of shit he doesn’t own and a bunch of travel for which he didn’t pay. I could spend a whole week captioning his photos in that fashion.
Full disclosure: I did, in fact, select a few photos from his IG account and I did caption them all and I thought it was pretty hilarious. But I’m not going to show them to you because I don’t see any reason to grind Jonny any further. He knows what he is and so does everybody else. Some people are in this business because they love cars. Some people are in this business because they love to write. Some people are in this business because they’ve never been able to earn a penny over thirty grand a year outside this business and this is the only way they’ll ever board a plane to anywhere but Las Vegas between now and the day they die alone on the toilet. You can read MotorTrend and decide for yourself which one of those people he is.
And you know what? There’s something almost respectable in having a car-writing job where you don’t even have any pretenses about being a hack who is totally and completely for sale to the highest bidder. It would be if like the Instagram girls just listed their prices in the bio. Who could say anything at that point? You’se a ho! Well, duh.
I’ll wrap this up by saying that I happen to be listening to Night Passage at the moment. It starts slow but by the end Jaco is well into his groove and the train is just rolling down the tracks and you get a sense of how special the man truly was, even when surrounded by top-flight guys like Zawinul and Shorter. Here’s the thing about Jaco. He was never a ho. Never a punk. Never did anything he didn’t want to do. Didn’t play music he didn’t like, walked off the stage if he felt like it. He was given incandescent talent and he chose to waste it in a drunken fog until he was beaten to death outside the same club he’d headlined a few years before.
In a perfect world, we’d all be like Jaco. We’d have the ability to follow our heart and our passion all the way to the end. No detours, no stops. But in the real world, most of us have to turn a few tricks to get by, whether they are on a yacht or on an office. We can lie to ourselves, like the woman who told me she was a “circus performer” when what she really did was stand around the circus in a skimpy outfit and then give blowjobs after the show to make ends meet. Or we can live in reality and accept our hoeism.
Of course, it’s also possible that one of those women is the Jaco Pastorius of hoeism. That she was born to turn tricks and she’s better at it than anyone in history and she’s going to express her talent in the biggest way possible until the moment it kills her. In which case… what the hell. I suppose I have a couple bucks somewhere #WhatsThatPlaneTicketToPowellFor #YouKnowHeGonnaMakeYouLookAtHisGuitarCollectionToo #HopeYouLikeScars #PussyGotMoreMilesOnItThanJacksOldPorsche993 #TagTheSponsor