GOOD

Why Can’t People Cozy up to Cuddle Capitalism?

Despite their restorative and intimacy-inducing effects, cuddling services are increasingly coming under attack. Are critics simply out of touch?

Photo by David Goehring

America can be a lonely place. Study after dreary study suggests that every year we feel a little more isolated and unloved. So it’s probably not surprising that a new business called The Snuggle House, offering up an unusual menu of emotional comforts, was set to open in Madison, Wisconsin last fall. The Snuggle House was exactly what the name suggested—a place where the disconnected could come and, for $60 an hour, cuddle with one of four cuddle technicians (three women, and one man). It might sound like a predatory, and maybe even ribald service, but owner Matthew Hurtado, a man who say’s he’s familiar with loneliness, considers cuddling a necessary, therapeutic service for those who are short on company. Still, the project didn’t sit well with some Wisconsinites, who delayed the storefront’s opening until November, ultimately concerned that it might be a front for or turn into a brothel. After just three weeks in business, the flack built to the point that Hurtado was forced to concede defeat, and the ostensibly innocent and honorable store shuttered its doors.


There were plenty of reasons to be wary of The Snuggle House. Hurtado, for instance, reportedly authored the biography of a sex-addicted millionaire, and sold questionable health supplements—not the most wholesome credentials for a cuddle care provider. But most of the valid critiques against The Snuggle House didn’t involve prostitution or safety. Although the chance of something sexual occurring was inherently present, the business had all the requisite protocols and permits, as well as eight security cameras and a 100-page manual outlining procedure. The Snuggle House followed in the footsteps of a handful of other cuddle-oriented services around the world, that have been selling affection for years without incident.

Photo Courtesy of the Kurt Löwenstein Education Center

One of the earliest, and currently the largest, snuggle services in the world is the Cuddle Party, founded in 2004. The group isn’t a business, but instead offers workshops with trained cuddle facilitators who, for free, or for a suggested donation, host local events for interested strangers to give it a go. Through mediated spooning and shiatsu, cuddle-curious patrons learn about communication, boundaries, and non-sexual touching and consent. In the wake of the success of Cuddle Party’s events, numerous other cuddle facilitators have popped up across the country, like Travis Singley of San Francisco, who since 2012 has traveled up and down the California coast, hosting canoodling retreats and offering snuggle therapy.

That same year, two serious cuddle shops opened their doors in Tokyo and Rochester, New York. Thanks to a series of documentaries and point-and-stare articles, the Japanese business is the better known of the two, and also the more troublingly lascivious. Dubbed Soineya, literally and non-euphemistically “Sleep Together Shop,” the store hires girls to lie beside its customers. They charge a $30 admission, $10 to pick a girl, then $30 for 20 minutes of sleeping next to, but not touching, a female attendant. For an extra $10, you can order three minutes in her arms, a foot rub, or petting her on the head, among other options. (Soineya did take some heat when it added $10 per minute ass-as-pillow and slapping services.) But Rochester’s The Snuggery, charging $1 per minute for a single female buddy ($2 per minute for two girls) is a simpler, less tawdry-seeming setup. The girls lay out clear rules for their patrons, and have accepted the fact that people will get aroused (50 percent of their mostly male clientele pitch a tent at some point), but the business brokers no nudity or groping and has never had much of a problem with rowdy customers. They’ve had such great success and developed such strong relationships with those in need of human contact that they’ve even begun offering their best clients overnight sessions for just $425, replete with movie watching, joint book reading, and snacks.

Cuttlefish

Services like those offered at The Snuggery will still probably sound suspect to many. For some, it will always feel wrong to pay for human intimacy of any sort. But cuddling apparently bestows numerous health benefits—lower blood pressure, improved memory, and even pain relief, to name a few. Some people don’t have the luxury or ability to find this kind of comfort naturally or socially, for a variety of reasons, and so long as no harassment or vice is taking place, why not create a safe space where these lonely folks can have access to something restorative? The formula seems to be working in Rochester and at Cuddle Parties all across America. It’s just a shame that for the time being, with The Snuggle House’s failure, Madison, Wisconsin, will stay just a little bit lonelier of a place.

Articles
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet