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Az~Maverick View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Need to cuddle? Get a professional...
    Posted: Nov 19 2013 at 6:52am


Cuddling professional Samantha Hess of SE Portland fills the need for love -- non-sexually

Samantha Hess slipped off her shoes.

Her client, Etienne Illige-Saucier, quickly followed suit.

Soon, their bodies tangled together. Her fingers roamed Illige-Saucier’s shoulder, coming to a rest in the thick of his hair. His tattooed arm wrapped around her waist as jazz guitar riffs rippled through the room.

They had done this before. Four times, in fact. At 60 bucks a pop.

For the next 50 minutes, their eyes stayed shut, their clothes stayed on and neither uttered a word.

Then Illige-Saucier arose and left, a serene and sleepy smile drawn across his face.

“Touch is often something that we skirt around,” he said. “But I indulge in it.”

And for that, he turns to Samantha Hess.

But Hess is not a prostitute. She’s a professional cuddler. And before you go shaking your head and grousing that the wool is being pulled over someone’s eyes, know that she isn’t alone. She is one among a budding industry of healers sprouting up nationwide who believe that an intimate – though strictly non-sexual – snuggle by a stranger can bring contentment and solace to those who otherwise might go without.

Crops of cuddle therapists have taken root in places like western New York and Madison, Wisc., but the 29-year-old Hess emerged this summer as Portland’s pioneering practitioner.

Charging $60 an hour, Hess cozies up to men of all stripes and ages – and, so far, one woman – in movie theaters, parks and clients’ bedrooms.

She’ll wear glittery makeup and put her hair down, if it makes her companion more comfortable. Socks? Optional, as are the colors of the tank tops, t-shirts and capri pants she dons during snuggle sessions.

Hess can be the big spoon. Or the little spoon. She is often both.

“It’s something I knew there was need for,” Hess said during a recent interview, seated cross-legged in Laurelhurst Park.

She had been scrawling “You Are A Bucket Of Awesome” and other positive affirmations in sidewalk chalk near the park’s horseshoe pit awaiting a reporter she invited to talk cuddle shop.

The 5-foot, 115-pound Hess greeted her visitor with a three-minute hug.

“Many of us in our adult lives haven’t had the touch that we need to really thrive,” she said.

Embracing the possibilities

While a simple premise, cuddling is one upon which Hess has staked her future.

She hatched her idea earlier this year after reading about a different cash-for-cuddles scheme. Two men were soliciting hugs at a farmers market, Hess recalled. One man held a “Free Hugs” sign. The other clutched a sign that read “Deluxe Hugs $2.”

People flocked to the guy offering two-buck hugs.

For Hess, a personal trainer and avowed “touch-driven person,” it was a revelation. She started thinking differently about the lifetime of snuggles, hugs and massages she had given to her loved ones for free.

About a month later, Hess learned of a woman living near Rochester, N.Y. that ran a cuddle parlor called The Snuggery. The business was booming.

“I decided then that this was my dream job,” Hess said.

Within weeks, she had a website, a federal tax ID and a business registered with the state. She met with a lawyer, who drafted a waiver for clients – be clean, keep your clothes on and no funny business.

Then Hess called her mother to tell her what she was about to do.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Laura Olson, who lives in Lincoln City. “Sam grew up in a house full of hugs. She’s always been super cuddly.”

Since June, Hess has put her snuggle skills to the test. She’s nuzzled lonely 24-year-olds who toil at graveyard shifts. She’s pet the chronically depressed. She’s spooned single dads. A lot of single dads, Hess said.

For people like Illige-Saucier, her service is a sensuous treat. For others, it’s a lifeline.

“I’m in a relationship, and there’s no physical side of it right now,” said a 65-year-old client who has been with his girlfriend for 27 years. “I felt degraded to have to beg for it.”

Feeling the squeeze

But this business isn’t all warm hugs, compassion and positive vibes, Hess has learned. Not everyone ends up happy. Her cuddling contributed to one marriage ending, she said.

Nor is she immune to the raft of controversy and skepticism that comes with professional cuddling. Some people have accused her of being a prostitute. Others just think her enterprise is a big joke.

She’s been solicited for sex. She’s been asked to star in an amateur pornography film. Hess has politely declined these offers.

As for the legality of it, cuddling rubs uncomfortably close to Oregon’s definition of “sexual contact” under the state’s prostitution statute. The definition includes any intimate part of a person that may arouse or gratify sexual desire – not just the person’s sexual organs.

Still, police aren’t likely to crack down on cuddling, said Sgt. Pete Simpson, a Portland Police Bureau spokesman. “I don’t know if it’s going to fit the legal definition,” he said. “Though the public jury might not agree.”

Hess’ safety among strangers is a much bigger concern. She requires all potential clients to meet her first for coffee at a public places. If she gets a good feel for their character, she agrees to work with them. But she still carries a non-lethal weapon to each session. And she gives the name of each client, the address and the time of their appointment to a third party.

Cuddling, however, has not complicated the cuddler’s love life.

“I’m totally stoked that she can see those people and still find something special in me,” said Robert Ems, Hess’ boyfriend, who also happens to be the Trailblazer super-fan known as Free Throw Guy. Ems and Hess hit it off after she appeared in August on the Ed Forman Show, a local variety show where Ems works as a producer.

She’s someone I’d like to hold on to,” Ems said.

Edited by Az~Maverick - Nov 19 2013 at 7:00am
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 19 2013 at 7:20am
get dat $$$$ gurrrrlllll Clap
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 19 2013 at 7:54am
hell, I may need to get in this business.I think I found a side hustle.LOL

Edited by EasterBell - Nov 19 2013 at 7:55am
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 19 2013 at 7:54am
Cuddling relieves stress more so than any medicine can do for you. Proven scientific fact
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 19 2013 at 7:55am
It's soo intimate I couldn't imagine doing it with a stranger. Then again I wonder would anyone pay for the embrace of a non white girl? at this ending a marriage.

Edited by GG - Nov 19 2013 at 7:59am
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Nov 19 2013 at 8:10am
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