For the last five years, spread the restA popular YouTube channel, it covers the world of social media stars, providing detailed recaps and sharp commentary on their scandals and beefs du jour.
But even though the Spill Sesh channel garnered over 700,000 subscribers, the person behind it kept his identity secret. She has not appeared in the account’s over 1,000 videos and has masked her voice with an audio filter called Monster.
Their viewers have long been speculating about who was behind the channel. Was it a content farm? Or related to a famous YouTuber? Or maybe a famous YouTuber, gossiping on the side? The mystery was solved on Friday when the man behind the spill sesh revealed his secret in a new video.
She is former TMZ staff member Christy Cook, who grew up in Florida. In an interview with The New York Times, the first he gave under his own name, he said he initially kept his identity hidden because he felt it gave him more creative freedom. Now that she’s self-employed, and doing well enough to buy her own home in Los Angeles, she sees no reason to remain in the shadows.
Ms. Cook, 26, developed an interest in pop culture as a young girl, which she described as her “Disney Channel era.” After that, she went online and more or less stayed there. “YouTube was where I was consuming all my content in middle school and beyond,” she said.
He contributed to USA Today in his first year at Florida Atlantic University. She then moved to California and worked as a tour guide at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, outside Los Angeles. She soon got an internship at TMZ which eventually became a full-time job and she dropped out of college.
“Our art department was called ‘Gallery’ and we created photo galleries,” Ms. Cook said. “At the top of the TMZ website, there are five main stories, and two of them are photo-oriented.” His work, he said, involved “scouring Instagram every day”, an experience that prepared him for his eventual career.
“One day in 2018, I came across a drama video,” Ms. Cook said, referring to an online genre called drama commentary, in which a host recounts the ups and downs of people with large followings on YouTube. “I was thrilled by the fact that people were interested in news about YouTubers, because at the time I didn’t think the mainstream media was covering it. They’re not on People magazine when you’re at the grocery store.”
She started her own drama channel – Spill Sesh – and proved adept at turning Instagram posts, YouTube back catalogs and podcast episodes into informative videos for viewers wanting to know the latest on Coleen Ballinger, Jeffree Star or the Try Guys.
Even if those names mean nothing to you, rest assured, there are many people looking for this information. Ms Cook’s videos have been viewed collectively more than 350 million times.
Jamie Cohen, an assistant professor of media studies at Queens College, said so-called tea channels like Spill Sesh take viewers “to the core dramatic parts of YouTube that are often seen but ignored.”
When the spill sesh began to take hold, Ms. Cook was concerned about maintaining her anonymity. “In the beginning, I think the scariest thing was people commenting, wanting to know who I was,” he said. But their decision to stay away from the camera and use an audio filter was not enough to prevent a viewer from exposing their identity.
After her first viral video, she received messages from a stranger who had searched her name through an old Instagram handle and comments from friends on Facebook and her LinkedIn page. Ms. Cook said she was worried she would lose her job and the health insurance that came with it.
The person who guessed her identity turned out to be not a complete troll and with his help she started deleting everything they found about her online and requested that her personal information be removed from database websites.
As Spill Sesh grew in popularity, money started coming in from advertisements and sponsorships. Ms. Cook said that in an average month she makes about $20,000 from ads on YouTube alone. In their best months, that figure can reach $50,000, he said.
She told her parents what she was doing when she started earning enough to rent an apartment without their financial support.
“I was like, ‘You guys. I’m doing this thing on the side. These are YouTube videos,'” Ms. Cook said. “They were confused, but supportive,” she added. “I think It’s a hard concept, like, ‘How are you getting a check from this?'” she said.
The income also allowed him to leave TMZ and buy a house. “If I hadn’t done this, I would never have been able to build my own house,” she said.
Since quitting her day job in 2021, Ms Cook has been a little less secretive about what she does for a living. Apart from family members and a few friends, her fellow drama commentators know exactly who she is. On dating apps, she has described herself as a journalist and tried to change the subject when asked for details.
Although she covers environments that many larger news outlets often ignore, she still considers herself a journalist. “I really try to make sure what I say is true,” Ms. Cook said. “Obviously there have been times when I’ve done something wrong.”
She performed her video with Manny Gutierrez, a YouTube makeup artist known as Manny MUA, and who was the subject of the first Spill Sesh video. “The best full-circle moment,” Ms. Cook said.
In the video, as Mr. Gutierrez gives her a makeover, Ms. Cook flashes her face to the camera. “This is actually Christy,” she says at the end, addressing her audience in an unwavering voice.