Would you pay $60 for a professional cuddle? How about for a professional "cuddle"? [Wink!] Either way, your dreams may soon be dashed.
Officials in Madison, Wis., are now looking to regulate the burgeoning professional cuddling industry out of concern that the businesses are just a front for prostitution.
It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "cuddle whore."
Snuggle House: A House of Prostitution?
For $60, customers at the Snuggle House can spend an hour hugging, cuddling, and spooning with professional snugglers. Its ostensible purpose is to relieve stress. But Wisconsin officials are concerned about "cuddles" being code for copulation, reports the Associated Press. With money involved, that's spooning with prostitution.
As demonstrated by the notorious Zumba prostitution scandal, it's not unheard of for physical-oriented businesses to house prostitution. Cuddle businesses have it especially "rough" since their whole shtick is about intimacy and touch. To combat confusion about consent, education and clear policies are essential.
For example, the nonprofit organization Cuddle Party, with its headquarters in Alabama, requires cuddlers to keep their pajamas on (fleece onesies, anyone?) and go through a pre-session workshop on how to say "no."
What's landing Snuggle House in pile of (Downy soft) legal trouble is that it initially had no training protocol or sexual assault response system. But Matthew Hurtado, the owner, said he has since installed panic buttons and surveillance cameras in each bedroom, performs background checks on clients, and adopted rules on sex, nudity, drugs, and alcohol, reports the AP.
And yet, after all that, the snuggles may be no more. Looking a bit suspicious, the Snuggle House may have suddenly closed down, according to the AP. Whether it snuggle-snapped under police pressure or took a turn for the pervy is still unclear.
Special Hugs, Not "Hugs"
Despite the Snuggle House's sudden closure, it's possible that Wisconsin officials could use a hug themselves as other cities don't seem to be as perturbed by the warm and fuzzy franchise.
Police in Rochester, NY, shrugged their shoulders at The Snuggery -- which offers overnight cuddle sessions -- because they haven't received any complaints.
Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colo. gives you cuddles with "Snuggle Stars," while San Francisco's Cuddle Therapy focuses on "your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch," according to its website. Neither of these cuddle companies have had run-ins with the law, either.
Maybe Wisconsin officials should just hug it out?