When I was in college, there was a bizarre threat known as the “Georgetown Cuddler.”
The Cuddler wasn’t a rapist but a bizarre intruder who would enter the room of college girls to cuddle with them. This wasn’t rape but was jokingly referred to as “crape” or cuddle rape. It was a serious issue framed in non-seriousness. What isn’t funny about cuddling?? Well, when the person you are cuddling with invaded your home and is touching you without consent, shit isn’t so funny.
Flash forward eight years and cuddling is having a very interesting cultural moment: apparently you can make a living cuddling. Thanks to a Times profile, we now know what it’s like to be a professional cuddler. The cuddler in question is thirty year old New Yorker Brianna Quijada who frequented cuddle parties and works with companies like Cuddlist. Her job is to lay with and/or touch people in a non-sexual way, to provide whatever type of touch they want. She gets paid eighty dollars an hour to do this, too.
According to Quijada, the thing about cuddling that is so attractive is that “it’s a mutual, consensual experience.” Unlike massage, it’s an experience where both parties are equally as important and, unlike sex, the point is to connect without that specific end goal of ejaculation. So what do people do during a cuddle session?
How far do you take it?
It’s your imagination; there’s no limit. Me, specifically, I loved being able to put my head in someone’s lap, and having my hair played with. I love being the big spoon. I like little arm tickles. And the ears. The ears are awesome, just to play with them. Or even playing footsie, that’s one, too. It’s seriously like drugs. You’re done with the party and you’re stoned from the cuddling.
So why did you make the leap to one-on-one cuddling?
I always felt I was the kind of person who could make people comfortable with me. I thought I could be good at this, if it’s legit.
What do private clients ask for?
It could be hand holding, synchronized breathing, eye-gazing. I’ve done cuddling while sitting, whether it’s an embrace, holding hands, or their head in my lap, or standing and holding each other. They come to me for relaxation.
Yes, this all seems very college zen and borderlining unnecessary but, hey, some people need a cuddle. Those people cover a broad range of ages and lifestyles too, according to Quijada. It’s just something people want.
The one thing this story doesn’t turn directly to is the why people want to be cuddled. If you look in the comments, there’s a lot of talk about how sad this is. I don’t necessarily see this as sad but I am curious what the motivation is as I can see it coming from a need to connect from lonely or from loss or from you wanting the warmth of another body. Unlike sex, some people just want to touch and explore other people in a PG environment, in a setting we’d be allowed as kids but are rarely offered as adults. That’s kind of beautiful in a bizarre way.
Would I pay $80 for a cuddle? Probably not. But would the Georgetown Cuddler? Probably. He might even be down to pay more.