|Victoria, B.C., masseuse Alexis Anderson says business is booming since she launched her cuddling service, SnuggleService.ca, in August. Courtesy Alexis Anderson
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“I’ve always been a very snuggly person,” Anderson told Metro. “Everybody’s good at snuggling as far as I’m concerned, but to snuggle strangers is a different kind of thing.”
For $60, customers at Snuggle Service get an hour’s worth of cuddling activities of their choosing with Anderson, from spooning to back patting and hand holding.
Anderson also offers cuddle-and-a-movie packages for $150 (no sexy or horror movies), as well as an overnight cuddle session that includes a movie in the evening with healthy snacks and a home-cooked breakfast in bed for $350.
Although she only launched the service a few months ago, business is already booming, said Anderson.
She has about five regular clients a week, and her voicemail has been flooded with inquiries from prospective customers.
“I’m being inundated with calls,” she said. “I’m kind of an introvert so it’s a little bit overwhelming.”
A certified holistic massage masseuse and five-year yoga practitioner, Anderson said she felt a calling to start her snuggling service earlier this year.
“It came from a place of care for my fellow human beings,” she said. “I can walk down the street and sometimes it feels like an extrasensory perception; you can tell who hasn’t had human contact in a long time and who has.”
Anderson said she has a wide range of clients, from people who are grieving the loss of a loved one to others who have a physical or mental disability and haven’t experienced human touch for years.
She said a snuggle-session can leave clients both mentally and physically transformed. She pointed to research that revealed hugging releases a flood of oxytocin, often referred to as the feel-good bonding hormone, and lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Before taking on a new client, Anderson said she meets with them in a public place like a coffee shop and has them sign a waiver acknowledging they agree to terms and conditions outlined on her website.
Snuggling Service is a purely platonic service based around non-sexual contact, said Anderson, adding that she terminates the session immediately if anyone doesn’t respect the rules.
“I do everything I can to keep myself safe and so far it’s worked out,” she said.
Anderson works out of her home in Victoria’s James Bay neighbourhood, but said she also travels to client’s homes if they wish.
She said she lets clients decide how the snuggling session unfolds.
“Some people just want to put their head on my lap on a pillow while some people want the full heart-to-heart cuddle,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll doze off and sometimes a person will just want to chat the whole time and just have someone listen to them.”
While she understands that some people may find her service strange, Anderson said other cultures throughout the world are much more accepting of human touch. In some countries, she said straight men hold hands, while in other places babies are held almost constantly and don’t touch the ground until they start walking.
Recently, Anderson Cooper criticized the concept of professional cuddling on his CNN show Anderson 360.
“I just cannot imagine— I don’t really want some stranger touching me,” he said during the RidicuList segment of the show.
But Anderson defended her snuggling service.
“There’s going to always be people who don’t really get it,” she said, adding with a laugh: “Maybe Anderson just needs a hug.”