Weather Forecast


Nathan Hansen's column: Wrap your arms around this

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am not a fan of recreational hugging. There are people I don’t mind wrapping my arms around, even some I enjoy embracing. As a general rule, though, I like my personal space.

All of which means I fall somewhere well outside the target market of a planned Madison, Wis., business that calls itself the Snuggle House.

The business, which is looking for certificate of occupancy so it can open in the near future, invites people looking for a little human contact to pay for professional cuddling at the rate of $60 per hour.

I’m not entirely clear what qualifies someone to become a professional cuddler. Is it more than just a high level of comfort with body odor?

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel the Snuggle House and its team of snuggle pros was supposed to open early last week. It’s been delayed, though, because of city council concerns that a business where people pay to curl up together might lead to people paying for what, for the purposes of this column, we will refer to as “naked snuggling” or maybe “The Deluxe Package.”

Snuggle purveyor Matthew Hurtado, the business’ owner, has promised that will not be a problem. He said the business has a more than 100-page manual for dealing with the situations that might (ahem) arise at the business. Presumably somewhere on page one it says something like, “Keep your dang pants on!” And on page two. And probably all of the other pages, too.

Hurtado also promises heavy security. There are eight cameras in the business to make sure spoons are the only utensils that get invoked during snuggle sessions.

“The place looks like Alcatraz,” Hurtado said.

I realize I’ve already placed myself firmly in the camp of the cuddle-averse, but I’m not sure a maximum-security prison is really the right image to put people in the mood for some high-end snuggle time.

I may be wrong, though. According to the Journal-Sentinel, there are more than 300 clients lined up and waiting, jammies presumably close at hand, for The Snuggle House to open its doors and its arms. Apparently, Madison really needs a hug.

It’s not just the Badger State that wants to nuzzle its face into your neck, either. It turns out, The Snuggle House has company in its drive to get people more in touch with touching.

In Rochester, N.Y., a business called The Snuggery offers sessions from 45 to 90 minutes or, for the seriously cuddle-deprived, an all-night session that runs $425. Clients are encouraged to bring DVDs, books and snacks. Snuggling is hard work, after all. You have to stay fueled.

In Boulder, Colo., a former software salesman has a business with eight employees he refers to as Snuggle Stars, because that’s certainly doesn’t sound creepy. He also throws monthly “snuggle parties” where a bunch of strangers get together and lay around on the floor wrapped in each other’s arms.

In San Francisco, Calif., a business called Cuddle Therapy operates on the idea that the world doesn’t have nearly enough of the kind of intimacy that doesn’t involve getting naked. They also appear to offer cuddle sessions via Skype. Now that’s the kind of kind of cuddling I can really get behind. 

Apparently, many of the customers of these snuggle shacks are elderly people who have lost their longtime spouse and miss having the touch of another person. The younger customers are between relationships and have fewer personal-space issues than I do. And I’m sure a few of them are just kind of creeps who eventually run afoul of one of the rules in that 100-page manual.

OK, probably more than a few.

It’s not for me, obviously, but who’s to say there isn’t some benefit to getting into bed and wrapping your arms around a stranger while security cameras look on?

Snuggle on, Wisconsin.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606