MADISON, Wis. —
Police in Rochester, N.Y., said they’ve had no complaints about The Snuggery, which offers overnight cuddle sessions. Be The Love You Are in Boulder, Colo., offers cuddles with “Snuggle Stars.” Cuddle Therapy in San Francisco offers packages that “focus directly with your current needs around connection, intimacy and touch,” according to its website. Police in San Francisco and Boulder didn’t respond to the AP’s inquires about those businesses.
The nonprofit organization Cuddle Party has trained about 100 people across five continents to run group snuggle sessions, said Len Daley, a psychologist who serves as executive director at Cuddle Party headquarters in Montgomery, Ala. Betty Martin, a Seattle-based sex educator who facilities cuddle parties in that city, said she’s never had problems with government officials or police. Cuddle Party participants must keep their clothes on and go through a pre-session workshop on how to say “no,” she said.
“People think if there’s touch happening there must be sex happening. That’s not the case at all,” Martin said.
Madison might seem like an ideal spot for snuggling. Former Gov. Lee Dreyfus once described the Democratic stronghold as “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for atheists, is based here. Every year UW-Madison students hold a blocks-long party to celebrate the end of the school year and biking enthusiasts pedal through the streets in various stages of undress each spring.
The Snuggle House sits above a bar about a block from the state Capitol. The only indication it’s there is a welcome mat that reads “Snuggle House.” The business’s website features photos of bedrooms with hardwood floors and videos of four snugglers — three women and one man — talking about wanting to help people feel better.
Zilavy, the assistant city attorney, said her first thought when she heard about the Snuggle House was “OK, this is going to be a place of prostitution.” She said Hurtado initially had no business plan, no business insurance, no training protocols and no answers when she asked him what he would do if a snuggler was sexually assaulted.