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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.

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