artists     stories    image-search     news    contact

Cougar Convention

© Lauren Greenfield

In the wild, every female cougar has a cub, from which she never strays far. In the city, cougars have high-powered careers and salon appointments, so sometimes they need a little help to find their cub and nurture the bond. Fortunately for the rising numbers of older women and younger men seeking May-December romances, there are as many obliging mating grounds as there are years between the two lovers. On a recent Friday night in Los Angeles, over 300 “cougar” bachelorettes and “cub” bachelors convened at a Beverly Hills hotel for the first annual California Cougar Convention.

The night’s events — speed dating, drinking, dancing, and an anthem song ‘Cradle Robber’ — promised new romance and clandestine indiscretions, and culminated in the crowning of a cougar queen. Young men arrived in packs, smoothing their buzz cuts and stone washed jeans. They lavished compliments and caresses, flexing muscle shirts and machismo. Older women showed up solitary: stilettoed divorceés in search of a young mate. They flashed rhinestones and cleavage, hoping to go home with a Miss Cougar California tiara and, more importantly, a doting cub to care for. Cougars outnumbered cubs three to one, with a good shot at their pick of the young pride.

While their social acceptability has gone from verboten to vogue, the cougar profile has generally remained the same: financially independent women over 40 years old with a thing for younger men. Today’s cougars say that early stereotypes often dismissed benefits to the “cub”, giving the cougars a bad taint. Instead of predatory, modern cougars are nurturing, agile, and innately experienced. The Cougar Convention crowd agrees that their relationships are mutually benefical: Tyana Alvarado, 40, prefers younger men because “they have a voracious appetite and make me feel sexier.” Raymond Lai, 28, spends the evening with many women. “I hooked up with three girls. One was 36, the other was 40. I don’t know how old the other one was. But I got their numbers; I’ll give them a call.”

click to view the complete set in the archive

Institute Artist is redefining how stories are produced and told. Representing auteur-driven storytellers, we bring together talent across commercials, photography, fine art, and film. Founded by Matt Shonfeld and Frank Evers. Institute Artists multi-platform production expertise, and established global relationships in entertainment, fine art, and journalism make for unmatched reach and cross-pollination of creative work. Institute Artist has been a leading advocate of the power of underrepresented talent and is fully committed to bringing these authentic voices to our clients by helping them tell compelling and entertaining stories that better connect with their audiences.