The number one podcast in the world Monday was an episode of the popular female, sex-centric “Call Her Daddy” podcast titled “Daddy Speaks,” which was surprisingly neither about sex nor hosted by the show’s two female stars.
The episode featured a monologue by Barstool Sports Founder Dave Portnoy laying out his side of the story in a long, convoluted mess of contract disputes between hosts Alexandra Cooper and Sofia Franklyn, who haven’t recorded an episode since April.
The premise of the “Call Her Daddy” podcast is, well, debauchery. The New York Post’s Kirsten Fleming describes the show best, as catering to “aspiring Instagram strumpets and fumbling virgins trying to navigate their first erection.”
Every Wednesday, Cooper and Franklyn detail their drunk nights out and sex lives, while offering sex advice in salaciously named episodes like “Post-Sex Tape Regret,” and “Squirting and Ghosting.” Although they’re not exactly feminists, they flaunt their flings and hookups as feministy credentials, and adopt feminist language such as complaints about being “objectified,” but we’ll come back to that.
Portnoy claims the show was an “instant success,” performing better than he ever thought in his “wildest dreams,” but now costing Barstool $100,000 for every episode they’ve refused to record in their recent stand off.
On Monday’s episode, Portnoy explains at length the drama that led to the hiatus, and the contracts Barstool since offered the two co-hosts to meet their demands, namely more money and the intellectual property rights of the “Call Her Daddy” name.
— Call Her Daddy (@callherdaddy) May 18, 2020
“There was back and forth at the time of signing them on the intellectual property of ‘Call Her Daddy,’” Portnoy says. “They did have a lawyer, and Alex didn’t want to give over the [Call Her Daddy] name in the beginning. And Barstool, we said we’re not gonna do this deal if you don’t give us ownership of ‘Call Her Daddy’ because it makes no sense. We don’t want to blow you guys up and then just have you walk out the door, and you own ‘Call Her Daddy,’ and we’re left holding our d-ck.’”
Portnoy alleges Cooper and Franklyn were only a year and a half into their three-year contract when they began shopping the show to other networks, despite Barstool owning their content and each co-host already making almost half a million dollars after show rapidly built a massive fan base in its first year.
Portnoy says he wanted to keep them, making them a generous offer of $500,000 each, bonuses involved, escalating cuts of their merchandise, rights to the intellectual property, and that they could leave their contract six months early (so, a year from now rather than in 18 months). They walked away from the new contract, one that seemed impossible to refuse. And that’s where things get interesting.
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The “Call Her Daddy” girls are not just at odds with Barstool but allegedly with each other. Portnoy explained that the drama is now “she said, she said,” with Cooper saying she wants to take the deal, but that Franklyn refuses at the urging of her boyfriend Peter Nelson, an executive at HBO Sports who allegedly scored the women a new deal at 20th Century Fox’s podcast network Wondery.
“I was starting to hear whispers, and [Cooper] confirmed it, and this is a big part of the story, [Franklyn’s] new boyfriend … Peter Nelson, HBO executive, probably greenlit a hit piece on me not too long ago, [came] into the mix not too long ago. He was the one who brought in all these lawyers.”
He continued, “[Nelson] was openly shopping ‘Call Her Daddy.’ He was acting almost as a manager, and he got a deal with Wondery. They were going to call the podcast ‘The Fathers.’”
“He was trying to manipulate the situation,” Portnoy says, theorizing that Franklyn refuses to accept Barstool’s generous contract because her boyfriend “stuck his neck out” for her.
A contract still hangs in the balance, but it seems unlikely for Franklyn to be able to cut a deal with either Barstool or Wondrey at this point now that the talent is split. Portnoy’s takeover episode of “Call Her Daddy” is not just juicy, but an interesting look at the behind-the-scenes of the mega media company, as is Barstool CEO Erika Nardini’s podcast on the controversy, in which she floats a conspiracy that Nelson could have been offered a position at Wondery for bringing them “Call Her Daddy.”
They expose both Cooper and Franklyn as greedy narcissists, but the real irony this dust-up reveals is how a supposedly savvy, feminist hookup artist can bomb her entire career in a surrender to her boyfriend’s meddling.
Of course, openly bragging and discussing your libertine sex life does not make you a feminist, but women like Cooper and Franklyn were raised in a cultural pond that elevated feminists to be the authorities on female happiness. Feminists agree that happiness and power are derived from sexual liberation, even though women in the throes of hookup culture find themselves feeling more depressed and less powerful. The economics of hookup culture means an increasing number of men who are coarse and entitled and women who feel used and discarded.
“Call Her Daddy” champions this brand of carefree, no strings attached feminism, yet behind closed doors, deals are made as if there are indeed some strings attached to physical relationships. We don’t know for certain how much Nelson is to blame for his girlfriend’s negotiating blunder, but it should not be lost on any female “Call Her Daddy” fans that these women launched a successful brand off the idea of ultimate sexual freedom, only to lose it all because of a man.