Wisconsin’s ultra-liberal capital city is a place where just about anything goes, from street parties to naked bike rides. But city officials say a business is pushing even Madison’s boundaries by offering, of all things, hugs.
For $60, customers at the Snuggle House can spend an hour hugging, cuddling and spooning with professional snugglers.
Snuggle House’s cuddling professionals (or Tactile Comfort Engineers, as I prefer to think of them) claim that touching helps relieve stress, but Madison officials aren’t buying it. They suspect the business is a front for prostitution and, even if it’s not, fear that snuggling is a “gateway” drug that could lead to sexual assault.
Police have begun speaking openly about conducting a sting operation, and city attorneys are drafting a new ordinance to regulate getting up close and personal with a TCE. Assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy told the AP, “There’s no way that [sexual assault] will not happen. No offense to men, but I don’t know any man who wants to just snuggle.”
Hey! Offense taken, Jennifer!
Tim Casper, an attorney for Snuggle House’s reticent owner Matthew Hurtado, submits that “the concept is obviously a novel one and you can see where they [the city] might be a little skeptical. Could something happen? Yeah, I suppose. But they’re taking every precaution.”
On second, thought, no offense taken.
Madison is not the only city that offers a hug. Rochester, N.Y., has The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddle sessions, while Boulder, Colo., offers downcast locals Be The Love You Are. San Francisco’s Cuddle Therapy, meanwhile, offers packages that “focus directly with your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch,” according to its website.
There is even a nonprofit organization called Cuddle Party that boasts having trained some 100 cuddle coaches across five continents to run group snuggle sessions. To keep the snuggling kosher, Cuddle Party participants must keep their clothes on and go through a pre-session workshop on how to say “no.”
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