vivica-fox_web.jpgThere’s a big difference between cougars and sugar mamas.

Vivica A. Fox explains it like this: A cougar gets involved with a younger man who can take care of himself and pay the bills, too, but a sugar mama is paying all the bills and emptying out her bank account.

“If you turn into a sugar mama, the dynamics of the relationship change and you turn into his mother instead of his lover,’’ Fox said before the season finale of  “The Cougar” at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek.

As the host of the reality show on TV Land PRIME, Fox helped Stacey, a 40-year-old mother of four, get back into the dating scene and find love. The show, which premiered in April with 20 hot guys all under 30, ended June 3.

For the finale, Fox greeted fans, signed autographs, and relaxed in the casino’s Nectar Lounge to watch as Stacey vowed to spend the rest of her life with 23-year-old Jimmy.

Andrea Smith, a fan of “The Cougar,’’ said she would date a younger man, but not as young as Jimmy. The 40-year-old has a cut-off line.

The limit is whether “I could have birthed him,’’ Smith said. “You have 12-year-olds getting pregnant so 10 years younger is OK. I don’t think I could have had him when I was 10. Eleven or 12 years younger, no.  … I have a 22-year-old son so there’s no way I could go that young, you know what I mean.’’

Fox, 44, has no problem dating younger men. Her ex-husband is younger, and 50 Cent, her ex-significant other, is younger.

And although she has dated older guys, she says, “The advantage is that a younger guy is not set in his ways. An older guy sometimes is set in his way. They want this, they want that, they want order for the whole day and it’s sometimes very difficult to fit into their life. A younger guy is a little more flexible, a little more free-spirited, and sometimes it gives you that little boost to let you know that you still got it, kind of like an energizer. If you can get a guy that’s younger, it’s like, whoa! Let me work out, let me take care of myself.’’

Clearly, Fox has been taking care of herself. The comments from the casino crowd spoke volumes.

“It’s a crime to look that good. … She’s freaking smoking. … Oh, my God! She’s so beautiful and so nice.’’

Camera phones captured Fox in her strappy, sequined dress and high heels as she stood and signed autograph after autograph for a line of fans that grew longer and longer.

Ron Fors, 32, was first in line to take a picture with Fox and get an autographed photo.

“I’m married to an older woman, ‘’ he said, “so I can’t talk about dating other women.’’  It turns out his “older woman” is only three months older.

One of the reasons Fox agreed to host “The Cougar” is the fact that the creator of the show also created “The Bachelor,’’ which has been around for 13 seasons. 

“All of ‘The Bachelor’ shows are classier than some of the other dating shows,’’ Fox said. “And the fact that “The Cougar’’ was for a 40-year-old woman who is dating again, that’s divorced, who is a mother, that I could be the host and help her find love and that I could give her the pick of the litter of 20 younger gorgeous guys, why not?,’’ she said with laughter.

As for her own love life, Fox says she’s “looking for someone who is going to be nice to me, good to me, respectful to me and knows the Lord, and that’s important to me. I used to be a very physical type of person. Now I’m looking for someone who is going to be good to me, who I’ll have a great time with.’’

Meanwhile Fox will be back as Larry David’s house guest on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm’’ in August, and she plays “a kick-butt FBI agent who is in charge of a serial killer who’s a cannibal’’ in the upcoming movie “Junkyard Dog.’’ 

And we might see more of her in South Florida.

“Hopefully one of these days I’ll move to Miami,’’ she said. “I love Miami. It’s one of my favorite, favorite towns and I can feel my life migrating here.’’

Photo by Elzie Fuller III. Vivica A. Fox