The Salacious Therapy by ‘Call Her Daddy’

Alex Cooper is everything I hate in a person. She’s funny, blonde, confident, loud, successful, a podcast host, and doesn’t shower immediately after getting off a plane. She is everything I am not and wish I were—my reverse psychological classification—and I am obsessed with her.

“There are two types of people in the world: stupid smart people and smart stupid people,” she tells me as we walk through LAX airport. “Which one are we?” I’m asking.

“Smart stupid, obviously,” she replies. A dumb smart person, she goes on to explain, is someone with no intuition about people, but “knows about, like, books and things.” Smart stupid people, I conclude, are the opposite. We are flying to New York City this weekend – a plan we made hoping that if we flew across the country there would be no choice but to leave our respective homes. It was meant to be a refreshingly cool change of scenery from Los Angeles, where we both live. Autumn, I am told by people who live with seasons. It ended up being a chilling 75 degrees and was also, unfortunately, the last weekend in October, known to some as the dreaded “Hello Weekend.” Not realizing this until we’d already strayed 3,000 miles from our homes, we resigned ourselves to another sweatpants weekend and stay-in – there was simply no other option.

Alex Cooper and Cazzie David.

Emilio Madrid

I knew Alex was famous, but it turns out Alex is distinct really famous. Perhaps the only person to ever reach this level of fame from a podcast, instead of becoming a celebrity, then decide that the world would simply be missing out if they didn’t start a podcast. Walking through the West Village with Alex was like following Elvis: adoring, beautiful women pouncing on her left and right, screaming “Daddy!” at the top of their lungs. But what I also observed was an unusual kind of fan relationship. Alex and her listeners interact as if they are friends from camp who have slept away. Girls who haven’t seen each other in years and have a lot to catch up. It took me no less than a dozen of these interactions before I finally stopped asking, “How do you know each other?”

Unlike some celebrities who secretly aspire to a cult-like fandom that blindly follows whatever they do, Alex has managed to create a real community – one where she and her listeners share stories, advice and ideas. She doesn’t sell anything. She will never ask you to spend your hard earned paycheck on her new hair extension. Her devoted listeners, aka the “Daddy Gang”, (a name Alex coined in the early days of the show, predicting it would make people feel like they were a part of something) aren’t afraid to give her constructive feedback criticism because she takes it like a champion. In fact, she has been publicly called out on more than one occasion, and while this might cause others (me) to flee the country and assume a new identity, Alex has proven to be able to reflect and possess an almost superhuman ability. to laugh at oneself. She’s real with her audience, even in conversations about times she wasn’t real (wow…BeReal really ruined the word “real”).

In September 2021 a TikTok account tried to expose her for photoshopping the side of her waist in an Instagram post. After what she describes as “mildly embarrassing” days, she responded by releasing an episode aptly titled, “I was caught photographing.” She doesn’t pretend to be above the things we as young women living in the nightmare of modern internet culture are sucked into, but also understands how important it is to talk about them.

Alex Cooper and Cazzie David

Another weekend of sweatpants and staying in, except to take these photos.

Emilio Madrid

According to a report from Demand Sage, as of June 2022 there are over 2.4 million podcasts in the media landscape. Of them there are probably a million podcasts titled something like Two girls, a glass of wine, each delivering the same given comment about dating, like, “Girl, listen, if a guy is toxic, cut him out of your life.” Though Call her dad‘s sheer existence was ahead of the podcast curve by nearly a decade, Alex’s opinions have never been obvious or superficial. “As much as people say [Call Her Daddy] is polarizing, it was me trying to find a way for women in the world we live in where we’re not just whining and whining, complaining about the patriarchy,” she says. “Oh, you want the power? Here are a few tips to get the power from the inside out.”

This mission statement still serves as a north star for Alex, and is partly why the legion of people trying to emulate her ascension doesn’t bother her. “I’m my own competition,” she says. “I don’t pay attention to what other people are doing and I don’t use other people’s content so I can maintain an original voice. When I started, I had never listened to a podcast in my life. I focus on who I am in the place for trends and quick hot takes that won’t last.” A quality you have to admire in this day and age where fast trends and endless comparisons live on a screen permanently attached to us.

cazzie david and alex cooper

Get ready to go…nowhere.

Emilio Madrid

When I started, I had never listened to a podcast in my life.”

What differentiates Call her dad in such an oversaturated market is how deftly Alex traverses such a wide range of topics. She launched Season 2 with a alt interview with Hailey Bieber, where she delved into delicate tabloid dramas from years past. This episode was followed by a human interest piece in North Carolina that interviewed the workers and women who visited A Preferred Women’s Health Center abortion clinic in Charlotte to study the impact of Roe v. Wade is knocked over.

Call her dad has become a safe place for people to explore everything from sex to mental health. Potential guests practically run to the pod like their first friend calling for major public unrest, as Alex patiently listens to their side of the story without judgment—a skill she attributes to growing up with a professional psychologist for a mother. “When I was younger, and still to this day, I’ll walk into my house and one of my friends will be sitting on my couch talking to my mom. Growing up, I would get frustrated that, that she was so intuitive, because she would always know if I was lying. But now I feel so grateful because it made her there for me and my friends in a way that other parents couldn’t be.” Alex himself approaches often the interviews from a psychoanalytic perspective, making the listening experience feel like what one would hope to get out of their own therapy session – that is, if your therapist called you a “hoe” and gave you explicit tips on how to masturbate .

However, the through line that attracts listeners week after week is Alex’s unabashed authenticity. She comes to the microphone ready to serve her unfiltered opinion and conduct a dynamic, uninhibited conversation, thus serving a piece of herself. Her massive audience isn’t here for her celebrity guests or the gossip they’re here for her. “One week I’ll have a comedian on, and the next I’ll have someone talking about their childhood trauma,” she says, popping a Cheeto into her mouth and promptly drying her fingers on the hotel bathrobe. “I have a loyal audience that sticks with me even when I change content. I don’t stick to what I know.”

What Alex seems to know is how to make people laugh. Many of her stories remind me of the Nora Ephron mantra her mother told her when she was young: “When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh, so you become a hero instead of a victim of the joke.” For Alex, sharing horrors like the time she threw up her dinner on her boyfriend’s dick, or when she went to the hospital in Las Vegas on her birthday due to a kidney infection she got from back-to-front sex. You know, classic Nora…

Alex Cooper and Cazzie David

Emilio Madrid

Staying together in a single hotel room for three nights is the kind of thing that can make or break a relatively new friendship. Annoying habits are revealed and questionable moral principles come to the surface. Before I left LA, I had asked Alex to put her hood up on the plane if she didn’t plan to wash her hair before we shared a bed that night. Luckily I don’t snore as she said if I did she would “smother me with a pillow with no remorse.” Expecting to find out what shameful quality of mine or hers would lead to the untimely demise of our relationship, I instead got a full grasp of how unique the culture of Call her dad really is, and that if Alex is a smart dumb person, it’s possible that she’s the smartest dumb person alive.

Photographer: Emilio Madrid; hair: Frankie Calire; makeup: Carolina Dali

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