Thousands of people have called Eats the MAXIM or Playboy of Social Media, and while I never talk about my work in grandiose terms, I wanted to explain how Eats is more than just a label or what you see on the surface. This is the story of Eats and the Eats Sweetshop.

I was a music video director for years, creating hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA”, Semisonic’s “Closing Time”, the Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom”, plus many others for Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato…the list goes on and on (over 300 in total). Then I created the Carl’s Jr campaign where Paris Hilton washes the car – along with all the others for Kate Upton, Nina Agdal, Kim Kardashian, Emily Ratajkowski, etc. This was all exciting until I discovered Instagram, which looked and felt like a visual Revolution in many ways: an explosion of culture and cool not seen since the invention of MTV.

The timing was perfect. Having been known for shooting sexy things I wasn’t enthusiastic about how advertising worked. There are too many cooks baking too many masterpieces of pure shit in the kitchen. Nothing is spontaneous or REAL. In 2016 I was shooting a commercial and had some amazing models that saw I had a unique vision and style. We decided to collaborate outside of advertising, which is how Eats was started.

In a lot of ways, it was the same format as Carl’s Jr, but I wanted to tweak the formula in some fundamental ways. Sexy doesn’t come from surface appearances, it comes from within. It’s about PERSONALITY. And you can’t truly uncover personality on film unless you create an environment that’s comfortable, safe, and fun. Instead of handing the girls burgers I asked questions: at the end of the day, when you’ve finished shooting a swimsuit campaign on the beach, what do you fantasize about eating; what is YOUR favorite food? I got lucky because asking this question revealed a lot about a girl’s personality and who they are.

The next component was to lay some ground rules for this experiment. I love sexiness but I also felt it was important to be responsible, respectful, and not force anything. In that way, I could create content that was truly authentic that the viewer could connect with on a personal level. So I brought the first Eats girls in as creative collaborators and handed over the reigns, letting them pick what they wore and – most importantly – giving them Final Edit so they had agency and control. Objectification, coercion, and manipulation are wrong on every level. It’s fundamentally messed up. That’s why I financed the Eats Sweetshop on my own – in order to keep the content pure, to allow girls full control over their image, and to avoid outside pressure. For 3 years brands have come to Eats offering product placement & sponsored posts, but I’ve turned them away. I knew that with brand money it would change the vision of Eats, so I held off. Also, the moment someone gives you money there are expectations, guidelines, and requirements. Girls can’t have control over their image in that context, but that’s what exists here in the utopian world of the Eats Sweetshop, where girls are free to express themselves in a way where sexiness is not shameful or politically polarizing: it’s FUN. That’s why I created Eats Sweetshop, where your subscription will contribute to keeping that spirit alive and the content flowing: because YOU GET IT. People over 30 don’t. Big brands and big corporations don’t. And because Instagram is a big corporation, they’ll take down anything that doesn’t fit within their Community Guidelines. But that’s ok because if you like this certain brand of fun sexiness, your subscription will unlock the doors to all the things we can’t post on Instagram. So join us on the scintillating, sweet, and tasty visual tour-de-force that is Eats Sweetshop.

Chris Applebaum