It’s the dead of winter, and if your heated body pillow isn’t hacking it anymore, we get it. So does Ali C, the woman Gothamist calls “New York’s First Professional Cuddler.” Starting at 60 dollars a session, Ali will remind you what it feels like to be touched by another human being.
Ali C (not her real name, just a cuddling pseudonym) is a 47 year old who makes her living hosting big and little spoons for cuddling sessions in her financial district apartment. As Ali makes very clear on her website, Cuddle U, her services are therapeutic and not sexual. She writes,
I rely on you to respect my physical boundaries. Absolutely no contact of the genitals or breasts is allowed. All other areas are fine, including the legs, the back, the arms, hands, feet, torso and North of the shoulders. No other touching is permitted. No kissing is permitted. If at any time these boundaries are violated, you will be asked to leave.
However, she reassures that should a cuddle client accidentally become aroused,
This is perfectly natural and nothing to be alarmed about. Although sexual activity is not permitted, arousal is perfectly normal and you will not be made to feel uncomfortable.
Although Ali C (we hope the C stands for cuddle!) admits that seeing a pro cuddler is definitely not a traditional form of therapy, she says it has numerous physical benefits and “reduces cortisol levels, lowers blood pressure and increases the production of endorphins in our brains.”
In addition, Ali believes her services provide clients with essential mental and emotional support (the most recent post on her blog is “are you under-mothered?”).
Although Ali’s profession might be in, as she puts it, the “infancy stage”, she’s not the only person making a killing by snuggling with strangers. Cuddling is gaining popularity so rapidly, there’s even a documentary coming out about cuddle parties and therapy.
If the word cuddle-party makes you uncomfortable, don’t worry: Director Jason O’Brien promises that professional cuddlers are “very loving, very fun, very open individuals, people more in touch with themselves.”
If you can’t wait until Cuddle: The Movie comes to the big screen to experience cuddle culture, Ali offers a variety of sessions to remind you what physical intimacy is like.
Her appointments start at 60 dollars for 45 minutes, but more extensive packages are offered. The 80 dollar, 60 min “Oxytocin Inducer” offers extra time to take a healing nap, and the “Movie and A Cuddle Package” gives you two hours of generous cuddling on Ali’s couch while watching a movie from her list of selected films.
Ali’s acceptable movies were chosen to assist cuddlees in focusing on intimacy without sexuality, although Matchpoint, The Notebook, and An Education are on that list, and they all seem pretty bonerific to me. (Ed. note: Carolyn and I differ vastly in opinions on what makes a movie “bonerific” and I am definitely going to have to talk to her about it over some cuddling. -Victoria)
Full disclosure: Ali does not yet own a TV, but promises she will purchase one as soon as someone decides to shell out for a movie and a cuddle.
If you should become emotional while Cowboys and Aliens (also on the list) with Ali, don’t worry. Her website says clients are often
overwhelmed with sadness. This happens frequently. I have tissues on hand and will hold you and encourage you to let those emotions flow through you. Being cuddled when we’re sad or in pain is often a new experience for many people and it’s an incredibly healing experience.
In fact, Ali seems chill with you doing almost anything (unsexual) during the cuddle-although she asks that you make sure to shower and brush your teeth beforehand.
Still think there has to be something innately sexual in paying a stranger to hold you?
As Ali says in the Daily News video below, “As far as I know, cuddling is legal. And if it weren’t, that would be the crime.”
- Fox sneaks into man’s bed, just wants to cuddle
- Even whales know how to cuddle
- Frank Castle could probably use some good cuddling