Alex Cooper joins our Zoom call a few minutes late and bursting with apologies. She was looking at dildos and vibrators for a potential collaboration, she laughs, and they wouldn’t stop showing her different sex toys. It’s a typical morning for the 26-year-old podcaster because when you’re the host of one of the biggest comedy sex podcasts in the world, your business is sex and sex is your business — even if it’s 11 a.m.
I’m chatting with the Call Her Daddy host at a seminal moment in her life and career. The popular podcast relaunches on Spotify Wednesday (her first guest is comedian Chelsea Handler) as part of a head-turning deal that gives the audio streaming service exclusive rights to all past and future episodes. What was once an expletive-filled cult favorite about hookup misadventures is now on the brink of becoming a global mainstream staple.
“I still haven't fully registered it to be honest,” says Cooper, wearing a bright blue hoodie, of the rumored $60 million deal. (Spotify declined to comment on the terms of the deal.) “I remember one of the first offers was $30 million or something. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing.’ My agent was like, ‘Alex, that's the first offer.’”
She’s also just a year out of one of the most dramatic periods of her personal and professional life. In 2018, Cooper, along with friend and roommate Sofia Franklyn, debuted Call Her Daddy as a podcast for unfiltered sex talk by women, featuring risqué personal anecdotes and explicit listener questions. It was an instant success. The podcast grew from 12,000 to 2 million downloads in its first two months, according to The New York Times. Then in May 2020, Cooper and Franklyn had a highly publicized falling out about the show's future — Franklyn’s boyfriend at the time was reportedly trying to shop CHD while it was still under contract with Barstool Sports, a website known for sports, pizza reviews, and, well, Call Her Daddy — resulting in Franklyn leaving and Cooper becoming the “Single Father” to her “Daddy Gang” of dedicated listeners.
When I mention the past drama, Cooper tenses slightly, but quickly transitions into crediting her fans, who stood by her throughout the tumultuous friend breakup, for her ability to push through. “They're the reason I have this platform,” she says. “The day they stop listening is the day I lose this.”
I am crazy and I love a good time, but I have a brain and I know what I want.
Cooper might be an open book on her podcast, but she’s been reluctant to speak publicly about her career and aspirations after being called a “Daddy’s girl” in 2018. “From that moment on, I did get a little bad taste in my mouth,” she says of doing press. “I just knew [that] I'm never going to let anyone else dictate [what Call Her Daddy is] until I cement the brand and what I want it to be.”
That time is apparently now. When Spotify first announced the deal in June, it described CHD as a “mantra, movement, and a lifestyle” of “modern feminism.” But Cooper doesn’t speak of her podcast in hyperboles. For her, CHD has been an outlet for her to share her life and give funny and outrageous advice based on her experiences.
Max Cutler, founder and managing director of Parcast and Spotify’s head of new content initiatives, touts Cooper’s “authenticity and vulnerability” as the main draw to her appeal. “It is rare to work with creators who take an active role in every aspect of the podcast,” he adds in a comment via email.
Cooper isn’t just the host; she’s running the brand’s social channels and even designing merch. She’s a savvy businesswoman who happens to have a lot of opinions about sex. “I am crazy and I love a good time, but I have a brain and I know what I want,” she says.
“I'm paid to talk like I'm with my girlfriends, [but] that doesn't mean that when I was sitting down with Spotify to sign one of the biggest deals in podcasting history, that I'm like, ‘What's up guys? Let's suck dick!’” she laughs.
Cooper was raised in Newtown, Pennsylvania along with her parents and a brother and sister, where she played soccer competitively from age 6. She considered Ivy League schools for soccer scholarships as a high school sophomore before she committed to Boston University her junior year. Cooper credits her “very competitive” nature and work ethic to her sports-centric upbringing (her dad was also a Division 1 athlete), along with her early passion for working in the entertainment industry.
“I've always been kind of like this,” Cooper says. “I have always [had] such an extroverted personality. My dad is in the entertainment industry, he's a producer, so I always wanted to be on camera or behind the scenes. In high school, I was like, I'm going into video production and I'm going to be there for all four years. I sat down with the dean of students and convinced him to let me take all four years of the same elective, which was video production. And they let me because I was like, ‘I already know what I want to do for a living, why would I do anything else?’”
Cooper says, with no sense of irony, that she even asked to skip health and sex ed to get into those video production courses. Still, no one in her family was surprised that she started one of the most famous sex podcasts of all time. “They definitely were like, could it have been about sports and not sex?” she says. “But they weren't upset.”
Like many young people during the pandemic, Cooper left New York City to briefly move back home with her parents in 2020. Cooper, along with Franklyn, tried to keep up the same shtick that made Call Her Daddy so famous. They talked about sex, relationships, hookups, embarrassing stories, drugs, and gossip. But mostly it was “female locker room talk,” as Cooper once described it.
The early episodes had a more “fuck it, we’ll do it live” approach, and Cooper admits the podcast “just happened to be comedy and sex in the beginning.” But now that Cooper is solely in the driver’s seat, she has bigger plans to expand her empire beyond just sex anecdotes. There will be more interviews with special guests along with discussions on mental health and listeners’ love lives, she says.
You can't have just a quote unquote hot chick talk about sucking dick for three years — there's got to be something more to it.
“I do think that in the beginning there was definitely a tone that people would have when they spoke about the show,” she says. “However, as time has gone on, people only stay so long for just sex. It's comedy and sex, [but] it's actually a comedy podcast. You can't have just a quote unquote hot chick talk about sucking dick for three years — there's got to be something more to it.”
Living up to the expectations that have been set by the Spotify deal, her critics, her fans, and herself is a daunting task that has weighed on Cooper’s mind, more so than leaving Barstool after being their “crown jewel” — and more so than any past drama with Franklyn. “I feel like it's almost just beginning,” she says. “I have so much more to prove now. I want to be the biggest podcast in the world. It's not about the money — it's about being a brand that deserves that number next to it.”
The Spotify deal is the moment Cooper’s been waiting for ever since that first blow job joke. “I think that I've earned a seat at the big boy table,” she says. “[Now] everyone [is] looking at me like, ‘Clearly this girl knows what the fuck she's doing because this isn't by mistake.”