WHEN you go to events such as music festivals, there would always be someone there with a placard declaring “Free Hugs”, offering to embrace anyone who feels so inclined.
Meet Samantha Hess — a woman from Portland, Oregon, who has found a way to monetise it (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/woman-opens-professional-cuddling-shop-gets-10000-customers-in-first-week-9870211.html).
Her new shop — called Cuddle Up To Me (www.cuddleuptome.com) — apparently is a hit, having received as many as 10,000 emails in a week.
The professional cuddler — yes, apparently that is a legitimate job — charges $60 for an hour-long session that includes different cuddle positions, hair strokes and hand holding.
These cuddles are by no means a passport to other more adult-oriented services, though (that would have put this into a completely different category of business altogether).
She maintains professionalism by meeting with the clients beforehand and getting them to sign waivers promising to be clean, courteous and keep their clothes on (http://www.kptv.com/story/ 23970037/portland-cuddle-business-samantha-hess#ixzz3Jh2gNKKo).
As odd as it sounds, she’s not the only one to have come up with a business that offers cuddles for a fee (http://www.elle.com/news/lifestyle/professional-cuddler-portland).
Jackie Samuel’s The Snuggery, in Rochester, New York, made waves when it first began operations two years back (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227708/Jackie-Samuel-snuggle-Cuddling-makes-woman-260-day-New-York.html).
Heck, the Americans aren’t the only ones to have monetised something that many take for granted as a given.
In Japan, there is a “co-sleeping specialty shop” in Japan, where customers can pay to sleep in the arms of a beautiful girl (http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/japans-first-cuddle-cafe-lets-you-sleep-with-a-stranger-for-y6000-an-hour).
But, judging from the pictures on the business’ website, this would be a little less family-friendly than the American counterparts which focus on the healing properties of touch.
These professional cuddlers face both praises and brickbats for doing what they do, but looking at the response to Hess’ business alone, it is undeniable that there is a need for such a service.
And there are worse ways to earning a living than by spending the day cuddling people who need someone to snuggle up to.