Cuddle up angel, cuddle up my little dove…


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Well, I’m not registering to comment there, so:

    Woo-hoo, big-time Tod!

    I’m shocked, shocked that licensed providers of modern mental health services uniformly perceive unregulated touch that makes lonely people feel good for an hour or more (a simple, cheap, and possibly-somewhat-effective alternative to their services and medications) as “dangerous”.

    I’m lucky enough to get my cuddles on a regular basis for free, but if I wasn’t, I’d be annoyed at anyone trying to prevent me from getting cuddled; even if I had to pay for it.

    But then, I support legalized prostitution. There’s a lot of lonely people out there, and as long as all parties are adults, consent to the situation, and take steps to protect themselves, I don’t see why I need to be all that concerned about how they go about remedying their situation as best they can.Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

      I am not shocked that licensed professionals are worried that unlicensed professionals might be competition, and therefore will attempt to smear the perceived competition.Report

    • Avatar James K says:


      I find a good rule of thumb is that no one ever uses shocked twice in a row in writing and means it.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Agree on the concerns about Professional’s being afraid of some unregulated types coming in and squatting on their turf. However the Cuddlers, to some degree, were also doing the classic thing unregulated industries do, which is make up bogus claims about scientific proof. That is less than cool.

      The marriages proposal and belief of a “special intimacy” with their cuddler is creepy and also a concern. I’m fine with people paying for all sorts of “wink wink nudge nudge” touch. But counselors have a lot of power, which can be misused, and i’m seeing where the cuddlers see that. Paying people for sex or touch is one thing, paying for “love” is getting into an area where manipulation and corruption is a concern.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    I have hear about it. To my ever loving shame. Sad that there are people out there that need this. If i was going to pay a professional i’d pay for more than a hug 🙂Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dude! You got to the big leagues! Congratulations!

    When it comes to professional cuddlers, I find myself feeling somewhat sad on behalf of the people who have reached the point where that seems like a good solution to the problem they’re having…

    But then I find myself glad that we’re reaching the point where people are willing to say “hey, I have a problem that will be solved by this heretofore unorthodox solution” when, prior to this, we could just pretend that the problem wasn’t there.

    A platonic prostitution.

    That said, if people have been wondering what to do with their master’s degree in fine arts, 60-80 bucks an hour ain’t bad.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I suppose the cuddling industry is a response to the human need for affection. It would be better if people could get actual affection from real relationships rather than have to pay for it but certain and not necessarily negative changes in society are making this unobtainable for a lot of reasons.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      “…certain and not necessarily negative changes in society are making this unobtainable for a lot of reasons.”

      Can you expand on this?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:


        1. Life was closer to the bone in the past. Living your entire life single was possible but only with a lot of economic difficulty unless you were really wealthy or a member of tight-knit community of some sort. Being married, especially if you were a woman, was necessary to go through life with a modicum of economic comfort.

        2. Until very recently, marriage was a practical requirement to have sex. Sex out of wedlock occurred and men could always pay for prostitution but sex outside of marriage carried a lot of social and economic costs if you got caught. Women suffered more than men but men could suffer tremendously to.

        3. This has more or less changed. Living your entire life single is economically more possible now for more people than it was in the past. It helps to have someone to help you but single-dom isn’t as economically deliberating as it was in the past. It is also possible to have sex outside of marriage and face much fewer social and economic costs in the past.

        4. These are generally good things. The somewhat to very negative part is that getting into a couple seems much more difficult in the past. People in the past had lower standards out of necessity. Now people can expect higher standards. This leaves a lot of people in the cold and needing affection that most people get from being in a couple.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I don’t think any of those make “actual affection from real relationships… unobtainable”. Perhaps harder to attain. But at the same time, they might make it easier if relationships can be entered into and exited with greater ease, people aren’t tied down and ‘taken off the market’ so to speak.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    After the Elliott Spitzer debacle, there were a spate of articles exploring the whole high dollar, erm, “escort” industry discussing how very different it is than the Craigslist stuff. (One of the little things I noticed was that many of the high dollar ones required a retainer.) They talked to the workers and the workers explained how sex didn’t necessarily happen during a session. The customers just talked and cuddled for an hour or two and then they’d go their separate ways.

    This is something that, apparently, has been available to the top half of the 1% already. It’s merely making its way down to the upper middle class now.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I’d still rather pay 1500 dollars for an “escort” to cuddle me than some random person. 1) I want a female doing the cuddling, 2) I was a HOT female doing the cuddling. And after she’s comforted me I may be in the mood for her to “comfort” me. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        (Another of the articles discussed how Spitzer’s chosen agency catered to the low end of the high end.)Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        Which is kind of the problem with it. Everyone who talks about it swears up and down that there’s no sex. But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that there was just a sort of understanding that if the client and the provider wanted to discuss activities other than cuddling that it was certainly their prerogative as consenting adults making a private arrangement between themselves.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        While it might, in fact, be a gateway to prostitution (on both sides of the transaction), I’m thinking that, at the point that we’re talking about here, the interactions are as straightforward as described.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        It all gets a lot simpler – and I mean dispensing with things like the relative fig leaves of “massage parlors” and “escorts” (and even, in some cases, “medical” marijuana etc.) if we just accept the fact that people should be allowed to feel good; and even to pay others for the privilege.

        I got a massage recently (totally legit, nothing untoward happening) from an attractive female. Her hands were (almost) all over my (nearly) naked body for an hour!

        But at least she didn’t try to cuddle me.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        There are massage parlors and there are “massage parlors”. In my walking by experience, it is comically easily to tell which ones a person can step into and can reasonably expect to negotiate for a “happy ending” or more.

        Does the massage parlor advertise in your local alt. weekly? Do their advertisements and/or signs talk about the attractiveness and/or ethnicity of the women doing the massage, do they advertise table showers, do they have neon lights, do you need to be buzzed in? etc

        All of these are the barest of fig leaves and the most obvious of hints.

        Medical Marijuana is largely a joke in California. There are places in LA where doctors in green medical lab coats will give you an diagnosis on the spot and usually on the boardwalk. At Amoeba Music in SF, you can follow the green tape on the floor and be lead to a doctor who will do a medical marijuana “consultation”.Report

  6. Avatar Michelle says:

    I was gobsmacked to learn that there’s a professional cuddling industry. I’m sure this is major fodder for a piece on loneliness and the lack of intimacy in modern American culture.

    BTW–I’d definitely be a cat.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Long time, no see!!

      I’ve heard of professional cuddling before Tod but mainly because law enforcement would go after a professional cuddler (who always happened to be an attractive woman in her 20s) as basically being a prostitution front. It could also be fodder for a lack of jobs in the United States.

      I agree with you on the last bit but there are all sorts of interesting, throny, and very hard to untangle politics on loneliness, lack of intimacy, sexism, alleged sexism, MRA/MRM, the “nice guys” crowd, etc. I think most people would agree that there is a lot of loneliness and lack of intimacy in American culture but would balk at when you started saying maybe they should be more sympathetic to groups that they like to snark against. This goes for all the genders and sexualities.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        People are able to live independently a lot easier now than anytime in the past. Nearly all of the negative parts of being single, especially for women, have disappeared. In much of the world, shacking up for economic reasons is no longer necessary. This is a good thing but it does increase loneliness.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I enjoyed the comments over there.Report