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A lexandra Cooper has the power to fell dozens of relationships. Just 26 years old, Cooper is arguably the most successful woman in podcasting, drawing on her own experiences with men to dole out sex advice to millions of listeners on her weekly podcast, Call Her Daddy. She leans in conspiratorially as she tells the story, while keeping one wary but eager eye on a group of girls in the lobby who have either spotted her by happenstance or tracked her down based on clues from her frequent Instagram Stories.
I would have loved to have someone do that for me in high school or college. A Spotify spokesperson said the streaming service does not confirm contract figures but indicated the deal was part of a larger strategy to recruit big names, including the Obamas, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Dax Shepard and Joe Rogan.
Unlike those other podcasters, however, Cooper was a relative unknown when she started her show. So I take great pride in that. Call Her Daddy is airing there exclusively starting July 21, and Cooper is developing future projects with the company. She talks a lot about female empowerment, which she says has always been an undercurrent of the show, even if the salacious stories were what drew people in. As she tries to evolve and expand the brand, Cooper seems sure she can thread the needle and bring her fans along with her.
I want to prove to the world that I am worth this. Call Her Daddy began in as a two-woman show: Cooper and her then roommate Sofia Franklyn would swap raunchy stories and offer up judgment-free counsel to both men and women. The podcast shot from 12, downlo to 2 million in just the first two months.
Then, last year, their friendship and business partnership went up in flames during a contract renegotiation with Barstool Sports, the media company that ly hosted Call Her Daddy. The details, even for diehard members of the Daddy Gang, are murky. Both believed that was at least in part because they were women. Negotiations deteriorated.
Who was to blame for what is hard to parse. Cooper decided to helm Call Her Daddy alone and Franklyn started her own show a few months later. Each woman has shared her perspective on her own podcast.
But both have said that certain men wanted cuts of what they, as two women, had created together. The disagreement became so filled with vitriol that Cooper had to ask her fans to stop bullying Franklyn. For her part, Cooper felt so distrustful of men in the business world after her experience that she now says she wants to hire only women for her Spotify team.
During the negotiation, Cooper posted a video on YouTube wearing relatively little makeup and explained the business behind the podcast. It went viral. Anyone who believed Cooper was all sex tales and mirror selfies had failed to recognize that she had, in a sense, been preparing for this job her whole life. She was encouraged to voice her feelings and spent much of her childhood with a camera in her hand.
Her love of media actually hampered her sex education. Her private school offered health class as an elective at the same time that it offered a video-production class, and Cooper lobbied the school to let her take the latter. She played Division I soccer at Boston University, where she was a film-and-television major. One day, she recalls, a professor pulled her aside. Should I wear baggy clothes?
It was during her sophomore year that Cooper met a Red Sox player she would prefer remain nameless. It was her first serious relationship. Cooper found herself in a relationship with a drastic power imbalance, and she wanted to figure out how to be in control of the situation. She pursued these relationships, she says, because the men were emotionally unavailable—and often literally unavailable because of travel.
When she was laid off from an ad-sales job in New York City shortly after graduating, and surviving on unemployment checks, she ed up for Seeking Arrangements, a service that allowed men to pay her for dates. She always brought a friend to sit in the back of the bar to make sure nothing went awry. I ask her whether she feels any responsibility toward young fans who want to mimic her trajectory and seek out romances with celebrities, especially since she now realizes some of those relationships were toxic.
And yes, of course, the caliber I was doing it, people maybe think of that as aspirational. But we all go through our sh-t. Cooper is hardly the first woman to talk candidly about sex—mainstream shows like Sex and the City and Girls have tackled taboo topics, as have Amy SchumerIliza Shlesinger, Ali Wong and Chelsea Handler in their comedy acts. Yet Cooper has built a direct relationship with fans like few others have.
Podcasting is an intimate format. Instead of running from the problems, I stayed. I fought until I could say one of the biggest shows on Barstool was led by a woman. If society puts a woman like Cooper in a box, is she better off confounding assumptions about her or playing into them in order to succeed?
The gender politics of Call Her Daddy is complicated. On a recent podcast, she talked about hiding her face from her boyfriend because she had not penciled in her eyebrows. Implicit is that idea that women have to look a certain way for their partners, even in the most intimate moments.
But she says she would have done the same thing if she were in a room of women. Cooper says she does not agree with everything Portnoy says but has never personally had an issue with him. Cooper says she wants her brand to be one of female empowerment, but she is also, at least for now, careful about how she talks about the topic.
She talks about the emergency contraception Plan B—with segments on who should pay for it or stories about men who insist on watching women take it after sex—but not about how difficult it is to acquire in some places. Beg her not to, in fact. As a white woman of privilege, she says, she wants to educate herself and be fully informed on any topic before she speaks about it. The day I meet Cooper, she has just returned from the Hamptons. While other celebrities cloistered on Long Island, posting nary a selfie, Cooper celebrated the Fourth of July at the vacation hotspot by documenting every bar hop and hangover on social media.
The gossip Instagram Deux Moi posted about Cooper getting kicked out of a bar, only for her to drop a podcast episode days later, full of voice memos taken on the evening in question, to reveal her side of the story. It wound up an undramatic tale: the bouncer forgot to give Cooper and her friends the wristbands needed for the bar. Still, Six ran a piece heavily quoting from the podcast. I check Reddit the morning of our meeting, and see that her followers have sleuthed out her hotel. I ask her why she likes the podcast.
Plus, they are more social media savvy than other demographics. Podcasts are a growing market, and Spotify is betting that podcasters capturing the zeitgeist will help grow its subscriber base. Fifty-seven percent of Internet users in the U. Instead of trying to promote an indie band, they can go Hollywood with Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama and score with the tentpole hits. She ended her partnership with Franklyn, moved out of their shared New York apartment, became an L.
I can still be funny. And I can still look this way. When Call Her Daddy launched, Cooper says, she outlined every episode, prewriting the intros and outros, rerecording single words she believed had been said in the wrong cadence or anything that might be taken out of context, editing the show and devising promotion strategies on social media. Whatever comes next will continue an evolution that she has already begun. She evangelizes therapy. Not fully. I stand by a lot of the things I said, but the journey over the next few years is really cementing what I want the brand to be, which is female empowerment.
I have to always remember that the words have an impact on these women. Both she and Spotify are vague about their plans, though Cooper suggests the potential to do something interactive was part of the draw to the company. So I want in. I want to be at the top of everything I do. In the meantime, she is slowly bringing Father Cooper a little closer to Alex Cooper.
Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana. By Eliana Dockterman. Cooper is arguably the most successful woman in podcasting with millions of listeners tuning in each week. Cooper plans to expand the conversations on the podcast beyond the bedroom and into the realm of female empowerment. Related Stories. Already a print subscriber?
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