Living in the digital age, online dating has quickly become mainstream with numerous platforms for finding a mate. But the vast selection of apps and websites still doesn't offer much variety in terms of dating scenes. Although many follow a one-size-fits-all format, users have come to expect something more.
Chappy is one of the latest dating apps to hit the gay scene. With its Facebook verification process, it makes faceless profiles a thing of the past and holds users accountable for their words (discouraging racism, fem-shaming and body-shaming). What's more is it takes the guessing game out of finding someone who's seeking the same thing, allowing users to filter out "Mr. Right" from "Mr. Right Now."
I recently met with Ollie Locke, one of the men behind the app, on the rooftop of New York's Soho House. A British influencer, he's begun living "tricoastal" between London, New York and Los Angeles. All too familiar to any gay man who's attempted romance, he's found the dating scenes to be anything but user-friendly. Thus became the idea for Chappy, which he recently launched with friends, Jack Rogers and Max Cheremkhin.
OUT: How did you guys come up with the idea for Chappy?
Ollie Locke: Jack and myself have known each other for a long time, and after coming out on British television a long time ago, I spoke to Jack. And he worked at Happn. I asked why is every platform only about hookups? Why is it not about dating? And we came together and made Chappy. That's where Bumble became involved. That's where it started, really. I think mainly, the idea I didn't like was it's just a hookup culture and nothing else. It wasn't reflective of what we spent the last 50 years fighting for, to show that gay guys can only have hookups and nothing to do with relationships. That's a really difficult thing, going in that direction for so long.
I simply couldn't be more proud of our amazing team launching @chappyapp New York last night with the most extraordinary party! London we are coming home, a new era in gay dating is here bringing responsibility and a sense of community back into gay dating apps.. so tell you best mate @chappyapp is available to download now in The UK, Ireland, America and Australia!! Xx
How do you see Chappy fitting into this new era of online dating?
I think all of us generally want safer, more responsible choices about what we want in relationships, hookups, spontaneous weekends, whatever we're looking for. I think that's how you have to do it. So I think everyone is kind of looking to upgrade their experience and just be given more choice or more responsibility. I think safety is a big thing, a huge thing people are talking about right now. Even Grindr is putting so much money into changing their look. They know that it's slightly outdated now. However great a service it is, they need to do other stuff as well.
What else is in store for the app?
The way I think Chappy is different is that we're trying to make it a lifestyle app as well. We want you to be on the app once you've found someone you want to spend time with. We want to help you in every way in the community to work toward this sort of grand-scale lifestyle where you can find restaurants and all sorts of things. That's what I want to make Chappy, and I think it's really important. We don't want you to leave Chappy once you've found someone. We want to help you along the way as well. I think that's where we try to evolve.
You've been promoting the app a lot this summer. What was the best part of that?
Last night was potentially my favorite by a long shot. We had 32 fabulous guys from every background and every walk of life in Chateau Marmont for this beautiful dinner. We had some of the actors from The Big Bang Theory. We had Charlie Carver. We had Katy Perry's costume designer, incredible people of Los Angeles. It was incredible.
Do you prefer traveling alone or with a partner?
I'm always single, and I hate being on my own. I can't laugh at my own jokes so I feel a bit weird, and I need to bring someone along.
So do you use Chappy a lot to meet the locals?
What I like about Chappy is getting to know the people on the app. I like doing as much as I can. I think you have to and it's important to look at everyone. And I like to ask people what they think about the app and what we could do better. In London, I use it quite a lot.
And you're living tricoastal right now?
Yea, I always say tricoastal, which sounds a bit ridiculous but we're in New York an awful lot. I think this is my fourth time in LA this year, my eighth to New York. But I love being there so much.
What would be the ideal first date in each city?
In London, my favorite dates have always been going to Richmond Park, which is the most beautiful park where there are deer everywhere. Spring and autumn are just beautiful there. I always love going for a walk with my dog, ending up in a pub, and opening a bottle of red wine and getting really pissed. [Laughs] That's what I love doing in London.
In New York, I think the High Line is gorgeous. Walking around Central Park and getting lost is wonderful. I had a date in New York the other day, who I met through a Chappy event. I took him to see Sunset Boulevard, then we went to the Plaza for cocktails, and then we went to this fabulous little jazz place in the Carlyle. It sounds so New York, doesn't it?
And in LA, Sunset Tower is my favorite place. It's got that wonderful London vibe with a kind of old school Hollywood glamour. Anywhere that has that old school Hollywood glamour is fabulous.
Do you plan on settling down in one city soon?
I feel like I'm in London so much now. I feel like I've completed the game in London now. So what I'd love to do is move out to LA for a bit at some point to come work with the LA team and create stuff out here. LA is certainly worth a discussion. We'll see.