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Bad Day? Snuggle with a Stranger for $60 an Hour

Bad days happen–whether they’re caused by stress at work, drama among friends, difficulties at home or frustration with our fragile democracy. When gloom strikes, some turn to wine, some to yoga, and others to a long bath. But let’s face it — when those things fail to placate us, sometimes we just need a good hug. Recognizing that we all possess an innate desire for comforting human contact, graduate student Jacqueline Samuel turned the act of cuddling into a lucrative business.

In June Samuel created The Snuggery, a company that allows clients to cuddle with her in her home in Penfield, N.Y. for $60 an hour. Her services have become so popular that Samuel recently hired a second professional “snuggler” (we wonder what her credentials were), allowing her to provide new service options like the “Double Cuddle”, which allows clients to cozy up to both women at once (for an additional charge, of course).

Most people don’t even like to get into elevators with strangers, so why is this cuddling business so popular?

We’d love to peruse the Snuggery’s demographics, but Samuel hews to a strict privacy policy. What her website does tell us, though, may shed some light on why business is booming: According to thesnuggery.org, human-to-human contact is capable of everything from lowering stress and blood pressure to boosting feelings of well-being and immune health. “You feel more calm for days afterward,” Samuel said of her trademark cuddling sessions.

That may be so, but not everyone is feeling the love; critics have compared Samuel’s business model to prostitution despite the fact that official company rules strictly forbid any sort of sexual activity and that the company’s key selling point concerns the “psychological and physical benefits of non-sexual touch.”

We won’t lie — we’ve certainly had days when the prospect of a “non-sexual” after-work cuddle session is hugely appealing. But with a stranger who charges $60 a pop? Can’t say that’s ever crossed our minds. Samuel doesn’t need our patronage; making the leap from start-up to lucrative business in just five months is quite a feat. At the end of the day, she’s not selling sex, weapons, or drugs — she’s selling hugs, and hugs are pretty difficult to vilify; just ask the Care Bears.

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