Start with a heaping helping of charming personality, sprinkle a dash of delightful quirky antics, then lather the final product with a whopping dollop of sensual sweetness… and what do you get? A scrumptious serving of 2017 XBIZ Webstar of the Year Harriet Sugarcookie, fresh from the United Kingdom and delivered right to your computer screen.
Standing at a petite 5’4” with a bangin’ body to match the noggin’, Sugarcookie is a living, breathing example that nerds always win in the end. Before the genesis of HarrietSugarcookie.com, which is described as a men’s lifestyle magazine, Sugarcookie was an awkward duckling struggling with anxiety.
I want porn to be personal. If you want hard sex, you just go to a tube site and you get it for free. The people that pay for porn, the people that put in that little bit of extra work and loyalty, want a little something more, and I want to give them that. -Harriet Sugarcookie, Webstar and Entrepreneur
“I was super unpopular at school — and I think this is a very normal story for a lot of girls — but I was, like, a size 12 going on size 14 at that time,” she told XBIZ. “I had short hair, I was doing that emo kid thing… had braces. I was just super bad with people. I couldn’t talk to them, I had social anxiety… that sort of thing.”
It wasn’t until a friend decided to share her photos on the internet that Sugarcookie found the courage to spread her wings and flourish into the beautiful swan she is today.
“I had a housemate, and while I was working, he posted my picture on an Asian forum on Reddit.com,” Sugarcookie said. “It wasn’t a great picture or anything, but I got some compliments because it was on a forum for people that liked Asians. It was the first time I really got complimented on my looks, and it felt nice.
“So, over a period of time, he kept posting occasional photos and then I started posting photos,” she continued. “It was really great, because it really boosted my confidence. After that, I started paying attention to my looks and losing weight. Before this, I had put no effort into my looks. I thought that it didn’t matter if I wasn’t pretty, because I wasn’t trying, you know? It’s that whole, ‘you’ll never fail if you never try’ sort of thing.”
The feedback Sugarcookie received online pushed her to fully immerse herself into the world of camming.
“I sort of stumbled into camming after the people on Reddit said, ‘You share all these photos anyways… it would be nice to talk to you,’’’ Sugarcookie recalled. “I was like, ‘Why not? I love talking to people online… it’s the most social interaction I get!’”
Sugarcookie received a multitude of requests from viewers about potentially purchasing videos; she was happy to oblige, but needed a little help with the mechanics first.
“I thought that I could create a space to upload my videos,” she explained. “My friend Tommy — who had worked for magazines before — and I decided to collaborate. He had this idea that, y’know, we could make a site, so I started uploading these videos to sell at a monthly subscription.”
Tommy has since been involved in the creative process, and even appears in scenes with Sugarcookie. With his help, HarrietSugarcookie.com has become a hotspot for geeks looking for their daily fix of nerdy content with a piping hot side of gorgeous women.
Much of her audience’s fascination stems from Sugarcookie’s own geeky nature. “I’m so embarrassed!” she confessed, laughing. “You know, the word ‘geek’ is sort of trendy now. Loads of people call themselves nerds or geeks now, so I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. Growing up, as I mentioned, I didn’t have that many friends, so I spent every day and every weekend sitting in the comic book store. My only friends were the guys who worked at the store, and that was only because I was a customer and they couldn’t kick me out.
“I guess there’s all these things that I just grew up with,” she recalled. “I read a lot of comic books and sci-fi. I like watching anime and playing video games and I loved Terry Pratchett. I have a Warhammer 40,000 army I haven’t finished painting. They’re all things I find geeky, but when I tell people I’m a geek, they assume it’s just because I have big, nerdy glasses. I am happy that it’s cool now to be geeky, because I want these things to be successful, but on the other hand I hate it when people try and classify me as a ‘fake’ geek girl. When I say I’m a geek, it’s not something that I’m trying to be, it’s just the way I happen to be because I grew up with that. When I say my website is porn for geeks, it’s literally because I write about my interests. It’s not like I purposely seek things that ‘geeks’ will like, it’s something about my interests that then naturally draws in that crowd.”
When asked about her decision to brand the site as a men’s lifestyle magazine, Sugarcookie stated, “Our audience is mostly men, so I want to write things that our readers want to read. There’s no point in me writing an article about things to do while on your period, because our audience isn’t going to be able to relate. Essentially, it’s because we have a majority of men reading our site.
“Our blog is very pro-sex,” Sugarcookie added. “And the big drive for pro-sex positivity is women being in charge, women fighting against objectification. Already the fact that I’m a woman who co-owns this company… that already tackles that stereotype, but I think as much as you need to push for women, you need to push for men.”
In addition to articles offering dating, sex and even dick-pic-taking advice, HarrietSugarcookie.com also acts as a journal for her adventures and interests. She’s an open book, who even encourages visitors to insert themselves in her story.
“The site may have started when I uploaded videos and started camming, but I also wanted to share as much as my life as possible,” she elaborated. “So, I wrote a lot of blogs, you know? Then, I got a lot of emails from fans. I think people feel really safe and open with me, because I’m very emphatic and quite kind in that sense. I think people trust sharing their secrets and concerns with me. The emails said things like ‘my wife and I haven’t had sex in so long’ or ‘I’m scared of talking to women.’
“I used to reply to these emails in length, and then people would say my answers were really great,” she resumed. “I started posting them on my website, and that’s how the dating and relationship advice sector of my blog came up. So, it was like sharing my life and answering questions… it just kind of built off from there.”
Even with the success she’s garnered in the past three years since the launch of HarrietSugarcookie.com, she has never forgotten her roots. As someone who struggled with anxiety and feelings of loneliness, she makes the conscious effort to spread her compassion — something she felt was essential to the heart of her website’s success.
“Responding to people personally is something I think I’ll always do,” she expressed. “It’s really important to me, and something I really love. It came from my love of camming and that personal connection that comes with camming. I know what it’s like to be lonely, insecure and have to deal with social anxiety. So, at Christmas and other specific times in the year, I have a separate email account. And I say, ‘If you’re alone on Christmas or you can’t spend this holiday with friends or family, just email me and I will reply to you.’ So I spend all Christmas day replying to hundreds of emails, and I reply to all of them. That’s something for the brand that I never want to lose, and something that I think is one of our core values. When we think about expanding, we always ask ourselves: are we doing this for ourselves or for our audience? And we always want to do things for our audience.”
Last month, HarrietSugarcookie.com took the surprising leap into hiding all videos showcasing explicit content on the main page, making the site entirely safe for work — a feat she felt would be beneficial for men, who she believes have been socialized to shy away from more sexual health-based conversations.
“You know the articles we write — especially the dating advice and other things like that — they help so many people,” Sugarcookie explained. “Last year, I had this huge push on prostate cancer. Like awareness, campaigning and saying, ‘It’s okay to be worried about this, go check yourself!’ I had a list of symptoms of it on my site. From that, I actually got emails from people saying they had read my articles, saw some symptoms and had gone to the doctor. This particular person didn’t have prostate cancer, but he did have something serious and he said, ‘If it wasn’t for your article, I would have never checked.’ And, I thought, the things we write about are really helping people, I would hate for it to be limited because we’re a porn site.
“The stuff we write for our free section, I want it to help as many people as possible,” she enthused. “I think if it’s safe for work, and something your boss can see while behind you at work, then that’s better. The majority of my website is free, so there’s no point for me to limit it in any way. So safe for work means you can read it at work, during your commute, on your lunch break… essentially anywhere. If you want the porn, then it’s just hidden behind the membership pay wall, so it’s still there if you want to get it. So people who don’t want porn, but still want the advice, lifestyle and connection, they can still have that. I don’t want to alienate anyone.”
So, despite the recent development, fans have no need to worry. And, while she’s taken a step back from performing boy/girl scenes and focusing solely on girl/girl scenes, Sugarcookie underscored she had a good reason.
“I just stopped wanting to perform with guys — it’s as simple as that,” Sugarcookie stated. “I have sex with men in my personal life, but I love performing with girls. It’s my company, so it’s my choice. I want to make content that I enjoy, because I think if I’m enjoying it, then it looks good. If it looks good, it sells. That’s the motive behind all our videos. We only do what’s comfortable for the girls and the guys. I think having those basics down will get you good content. You don’t need elaborate positions or huge setups, because if the performers are enjoying themselves… then it’s good content. It’ll sell by itself.”
When asked what set apart her content from a typical performer’s official site, she attributed her success to the “personal” touches added to each video.
“The girls in our videos mostly just come to us,” Sugarcookie detailed. “They’re just normal girls. I think that you can see from our videos and site how easy it is to approach us. There are so many people that are interested in the porn industry, but there’s that stigma and fear. If it’s a studio, it’s almost too overwhelming, so we’re a very soft and easy way to approach the industry. That’s why girls come work with us. They’re girls who say things like, ‘I’ve always wanted to try this. I don’t want to be a porn star, but I’d love to have a sex tape.’ And that’s what our videos really are — they’re sex tapes in the sense that they’re made at home between two people who like each other.
“As for the male performers, Tommy does most of the male scenes and our housemate Dean van Damme, who is also a British actor, performs with us too,” she continued. “Everything we do on the site is super personal. The way we film our videos, including with other girls, has never been a traditional studio setup. I started it just in my room, y’know? So, even now when we get girls in, it’s just the people in the videos who are in the room when we film. We don’t hire a girl for two hours for a scene, but rather we invite her over for a sleepover. If they’re in Budapest, we take her out to see the sites, see films, have dinner… it’s almost like a date. It’s a weekend long date where you have sex anyways, but we just film the sex bits. I wouldn’t say we have something like a production team or anything like that, it’s really more just a group of friends working together.”
Consent is key, Sugarcookie drilled. “The girl will arrive on Friday evening, we’ll go out for dinner and find out if we’re compatible — kind of like a first date. We’ll talk about things, sort of explain the aspect of filming. Especially with girls who haven’t been in the industry before, we make it clear that these videos will be going up on the site and will be on social media. We want to make sure they know what they’re getting into. We talk to them beforehand on Skype, too. There is so much contact between us before we meet them, not just because we want them to be comfortable, but also because I don’t want to work with someone that I have no physical chemistry with.”
Additionally, Sugarcookie vowed she’s expanding her horizons, taking a dive into other possibilities presented in the adult entertainment industry. Despite her superhero origin story of webcam stardom, she plans on shedding that tattered costume to don a different type of suit: a business suit.
“When you are a performer, you get labeled as just a performer,” Sugarcookie noted. “So, I want to show people that you can be a performer and so much more. When I started this, everything I did was what I was comfortable with or what I wanted to do. I think taking a step back from performing is also tackling that idea of what a woman’s role in porn is, you know?
“For a long time, and even now, people refer to me as ‘cam model Harriet Sugarcookie,’” she observed. “I had an interview with someone at The Phoenix Forum who said, ‘So, you’re kind of the unofficial spokesperson of cam girls.’ And I said, ‘No, because I’ve cammed twice this year and it was for fun.’ I don’t cam as a thing anymore, and I don’t want to be labeled as a cam girl, because what I am is an entrepreneur, a business owner and a woman. I think these are the things we should be focusing on, because these are the things that are going to help equalize women in the industry and show their empowerment.”
Simply being labeled a cam girl, Sugarcookie believes, glosses over her success.
“I want to help improve the image of the industry itself and also the image of women in the industry,” she said. “There are so many people I’ve spoken to who, when they think of porn, they think of people who objectify women and women who are being abused. There are so many business women in porn. I want to be recognized as that.”
As the conversation shifted back to the technical, business-savvy side of HarrietSugarcookie.com, she was more than happy to explain the behind-the-scenes work that comes with running a successful site.
“Analytics-wise, the majority of our audience comes from America,” Sugarcookie mentioned. “I’d say about 40 percent come from America, eight percent from the U.K. and the rest come from Asia, Australia and even Sudan. We’re an extremely global brand. We get 25 percent of our sales from social media, and that’s just from me tweeting and Instagraming. That’s not from ads, it’s just from sharing my life on Twitter. Ads are not the way, in my opinion. Here’s the thing, people want to know about you. We’re on a monthly subscription basis, and one of the great things that we have is rebilling. We have so many people that stay loyal to us and keep subscribing to us every month. If you just have videos, people will join for a month and download all your videos. Then, they’ll do it again every few months. With us, I’m sharing my road trip, my life and I get people excited. It’s what creates loyalty.”
Pressed on why her British audience numbers were so low, she explained, “Your biggest audience is, usually, your home country, but we had a lot of foresight with our company. Right now the British government is trying to pass an age-verification law, but it isn’t like America’s age-verification rule. Instead of clicking ‘Yes, I’m over 18,’ for every unique person that visits your website, the site owners may have to pay up to one pound per visit. That’s not even just for members, it’s for anyone that wants to see your site. As a small business, we can’t afford to pay for that. We knew that this sort of law was in the works, way back when we started, so we always knew that we wouldn’t necessarily be able to depend on Britain.
“And we write about this on our site, even if it’s just a small percentage of our audience that’s British,” Sugarcookie mentioned. “We think it’s something that should be known and discussed. It’s very important to be open about sexuality. To get over the taboo against porn and sex is to have discussions and safe places. You can come to our website, leave a comment and there will be no judgment.”
Asked about whether or not the extreme nature of British laws would prompt her to pack her bags and sail across the Atlantic Ocean, Sugarcookie paused for thought.
“I would move to America, because the business is here,” she said. “I think we have the biggest chance to grow here, too. The possibilities of collaboration are also greater. I would like to eventually move our business to America, because I think that’s where we need to be to be bigger.”
As the interview came to an end, Sugarcookie told XBIZ what was in store for 2017 and what she hoped to achieve. “This year, I want to triple our revenue,” she expressed. “Last year, we doubled it. I want to do more media appearances and I want to start building up more YouTube content. I’d like to be the Playboy for geeks, as it were. Like, the men’s lifestyle magazine that’s also porn, but also aimed at geeks. I want porn to be personal. You know, when you see the fact that cam shows and cam girls are so popular, it’s because people are looking for that extra connection. If you want hard sex, you just go to a tube site and you get it for free. The people that pay for porn, the people that put in that little bit of extra work and loyalty, want a little something more, and I want to give them that.”