After only three weeks in existence, the Snuggle House in Madison, Wisconsin, where cuddling professionals hugged, spooned and cuddled their clients for $60 an hour, has shut down. The cuddling business was accused of being a front for prostitution, a lawyer for the Snuggle House owner confirmed to the AP today. A comment on the business’ Facebook page confirmed, “The pushback and harassment is not worth it, honestly.”
Paying for sex, nudity, drugs and alcohol were forbidden during snuggling sessions. Customers signed a two-page waiver before a session began and security cameras and panic buttons were located in each bedroom. However, attorneys for the city of Madison were were skeptical of “therapeutic cuddling” and had delayed its opening several times.
According to The Times-Picayune, prior to the closing, the city had planned to draft an ordinance to regulate snuggling even further. City attorneys claimed they want to protect the cuddling professionals — three women and one man — from sexual assault. While safety is surely a worthy cause (and one that the cameras, panic buttons and waivers suggest the Snuggle House were aware of), the city’s explanation for their concern left something to be desired. According to one city attorney, cuddling leads to sex, always, ergo the employees must be getting sexually assaulted if they are not actually prostitutes.
This is Madison assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy, as quotes in the Times-Picayune:
“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.”
Er, what? Of course there are men who want to just snuggle. Cuddling is affectionate touching. We cuddle with family and friends. Depending on your relationship with your cuddling partner, cuddling can also be sexual when it involves more intimate types of touch. All men are not potential rapists and it’s insulting to assume that straight men only want to use women’s bodies for sexual release. It’s a fallacy to say all cuddling is sexual. In fact, I suspect actual, honest-to-goodness sex workers have some clients who just want to come and snuggle with a woman. That’s a fairly good explanation for why snuggling businesses like Cuddle Party in Alabama, Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco, The Snuggery in Rochester, New York, and Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colorado continue to exist. Clearly, there is a demand for, as Snuggle House lawyer Tim Casper put it, “nonsexual touching.”
Casper said the Snuggle House’s owner believes that cuddling relieves stress. Indeed, a woman who described her cuddling experience with Lonnie, the male professional snuggler at the Snuggle House, described it as “partially like yoga and partially like accidentally falling asleep with a friend, waking up, and wondering if it’ll be awkward. It’s strange but no unpleasant.” She lay with Lonnie, listening to soft music playing, and described the experience as ultimately very relaxing.
Alas, the Snuggle House is no more. They are now offering to donate their furniture, like beds and lighting, to local religious organizations. Their Facebook page reads: “The Snuggle House is Officially Closed — for good. For those people who supported us, thank you. Snuggle on!” RIP, Snuggle House. We hardly knew you.[Madison.com] [The Daily Page] [Facebook.com/TheSnuggleHouse] [TwinCities.com] [NOLA.com]
Original by Jessica Wakeman