Autumn is here triggering the colour changing in leaves, leather, layers, a commercially motivated pumpkin spice aggression and plenty of opportunity to get your snuggle and cuddle on as it begins to cool down outside.
Think snuggling with your loved ones with a rum-spiked hot apple cider in one hand, the other wrapped up in a big fluffy blanket, while riding a bale of hay through a haunted maze (yes, that specific). But, what if you don't have that kind of sensory access? What if you are one of many who seemingly function in life as touch-deprived individuals? What if you wanted to and could cuddle with someone right now? Well, here's what I've learned you can do about it.
The first professional cuddle company has come to Canada and it invites you to "get into a bubble of affection, well-being and support" with them. The Cuddlery, boasting locations all across Canada wants you to come spoon with them -- legally, in a non-judgmental, safe, consensual way. The theory behind general touch therapy is straight forward in that those who have experienced less "touch" throughout their lives, especially during early development have been found to suffer more from depression, lower self-esteem and potentially communication problems such as reduced learning from speech as opposed to those who have not. Essentially, more loving touch in your life translates to increasing your lifespan and influencing you to lead a happier, more satisfying life.
Not only are there companies such as the Cuddlery, but cuddle fests have long been practiced, misunderstood and considered to be taboo with friends and strangers. This has in turn inspired other pro-cuddlers to raise funds for events such as Cuddle Con where people inspire the world through the power of human connection. Which all sounds pretty rad.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to chat with professional cuddler Madison Powell, based out of Toronto, about her experiences working in the industry so far.
1. How long have you been with The Cuddlery?
I have been with The Cuddlery since January of this year, and in March I decided to launch Cuddle with Madison to also be able to offer a wide range of companionship services and related workshops.
2. How did you choose this profession?
This profession is something that I had kept my eye on for quite some time when it started to pop up in Portland. When the industry arose in Canada I applied immediately. Cuddling is something that has always come naturally to me and was a staple in my upbringing. I really believe that cuddling is very important in regards to one's basic human needs and often we don't get as much as we need, especially those of us in marginalized communities i.e. seniors, disabled persons, those who simply work too much and residents of assisted living facilities where the only touch they receive maybe through medical care with a personal support worker.
3. How much is a session?
Session prices are based on time and type. They start at $35 for a half hour or $65 for an hour, $119 for two hours. From there you can also add on extra features such as Kangaroo Care, which offers more skin to skin contact and the "in crisis" option for those facing particularly hard times.
4. What are the rules for a client when engaging in a session?
Our rules are stated clearly in the client contract, which everyone must review and sign. We operate on a "three strikes you're out" system. The contract outlines various forms of unacceptable sexual touch in detail and goes over the safety precautions we have in place.
5. Have you had any strange requests?
In the past I have had requests for topless, semi-nude sessions, as well as the infamous "happy ending." We don't offer those services as part of the cuddling experience, but I would have to say that the strangest request I received was a client who asked if I would dye my hair a colour of his choice, which he redacted once I informed him he would have to foot the bill.
6. Touch therapy is a significant reason why people would want to be cuddled, but what do you think clients get out of this service?
Clients often report an overwhelming sense of calm after a session. They leave in a bit of a dream state, refreshed and glowing. Often, the companionship alone is enough to bring them out of depressive feelings for some time. After a couple sessions, some clients have reported less overall stress at work and experiencing the feeling of being valued and cared for reinvigorated into their lives. Many of my clients have varying degrees of social anxiety or Asperger's and report to me that finding someone to talk to and practice touch with is very soothing as well as providing themselves with a sense of accomplishment.
7. How do you handle strange scents from your clients?(i.e bad body odour, bad breathe, stinky farts...OMG! do farts happen?)
Our contract states that clients are expected to arrive with good hygiene, having showered at least in the last 12 hours. Natural occurrences such as gas and erections are all too common and we simply try to prevent the client from feeling embarrassed by not making a big deal out of it and address any concerns clearly.
8. Have you ever had a client fall in love with you?
It can be difficult, as the relationships we may foster with our clients is very intimate. We come to care for them very much and sometimes this platonic love can be misinterpreted. Yes, I have had one client so far who began to fall for me. When this became apparent we sat down to discuss it and came to the conclusion that it would be better for him, emotionally, to stop sessions entirely with me.
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