I Am A Professional Cuddler For A Living | For A Living | Refinery29

I Am A Professional Cuddler For A Living | For A Living | Refinery29

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People talk a lot about babies and how when
babies aren’t touched, they die. Can I massage your armpit? Yeah. We love to think of ourselves as so different
from babies. This is nice. But, in fact, we’re just like adult babies. I’m Christina Hepburn, and I am a professional
cuddlist. I hug people for a living. So, I usually like to start with the heart
hug. That felt good. Yeah. There’s touch and there’s deep breath work
and there’s sort of a meditation that occurs and there’s talk therapy in it. And it all kind of just lands wherever that
person needs the most. Here’s good? Mhm. And you kind of curl around. Like this? Yeah. Mmm. Yeahhh. Oh this feels– That feels so good. It’s very nourishing. Mhmm. The client that I have, he remembers the first
time he was actually fully hugged by someone. And he was about twelve. And it was a neighbor, because his family
was so touch averse. There’s a wide range of needs that can be
met through the cuddling experience. PTSD, anxiety. Maybe OCD issues. All the way to people who know that they love
touch and don’t get enough. Sessions are $80 an hour. They can be $80 to $100. A good average session for people is like
an hour and a half. This feels great. It can be anything from someone who has moved
to the city and is new here and doesn’t have a lot of relationships yet, to people who
are going through traumatic events, grief or loss. It can be a safe place to process some of
that. I feel like I’m getting emotional. Are you having a release? You feel comfortable? Mhm. Yes, I do. I’m glad that you’re getting to relax. It can be healing for both of us, and I think
there’s sometimes an assumption that it’s only for the client. And I think what’s kind of cool about cuddling
versus something like massage is that there’s this permission to have exchange in that way. I like this. Yeah. Some of my favorite poses are, I have a heart
hug. There’s Resting on a Log. Can I hold your hand here? I love the Mama Bear. Can I touch your ear? Yes, please. There’s one called the Koala and Tree. Are your knees okay? Oh yeah that’s even better. That’s better. I’ll be the big spoon. Can I touch your feet? Yeah, please. The Fortune Cookie. What is your fortune? Pray tell. I can do Back to Back, Sandwich, Stargazing,
Eye Gazing, too. I love having my head rubbed. I actually love doing this one special thing
that I guess has become my thing. But I put my, I have people put fingers in
my ears. It’s amazing. You should try it sometime. Culturally, America is kind of starved for
touch. I think especially in big cities like L.A.,
where I live. You see it a lot where people are living by
themselves now. Often without family because they’ve moved
to a different city. Your touch needs aren’t being met, much less
your social needs, even. So I think it can be a really alienating experience
for people to just live in big cities. So welcome. Thank you for being here. Because it is a fringe industry, if you will,
and it’s very new, I think it’s really important to actually know the community and get involved
and attend cuddle groups. Let’s all take a deep breath together. I feel like I want to hold your hand now,
can I hold your hand? No. Thank you for letting me know. Cuddling is actually talking about your boundaries. How to communicate them, how to ask for what
you want, how to say “no, thank you.” Because so often in this world it’s really
hard to tell people “no.” Okay, so I’m gonna bring your eye to mine
like this. And then we’re going to take a deep breath
together. And you can kind of apply as much pressure
as you want. In fact, I’d say the person whose eye it is
can push more into the cheekbone and let them manage it. Oh, okay. Cool. Yeah. Yeah. So, I’m gonna do my eye and your cheekbone
now. And so then, so then I can kind of push, like
that. Yeah, thank you. Oh, I like that. That was cool, right? Since I started cuddling the conversation
has radically shifted. I mean, the Me Too movement happened in the
time that I started cuddling. Back around this taboo topic of like, how
does it not get sexual? Someone can say like, “Wow, I have this desire
to kiss you,” right? And I’m going to say, “Thanks, but no.” Part of the cuddling process is even practicing
asking for what you want, and practicing saying no, and thanking someone for their no. And in cuddling we always check in, too. Whenever you’re going to do something new
you say, “Can I touch you here?” Yeah. Where am I going? Yeah. Do you want a pillow? Okay. I think that there’s a lot of room for people’s
touch needs to get met without it being sexual. You’re gonna lay on your side. Okay. And then I’m gonna spoon you. Oh, you said spoon not spin. It’s nice to spoon. Every time you say it, it sounds like spin. Oh, really? I, in fact, feel very safe with the screening
process. People fill out a form and they answer questions
about why they’re seeking this. Rock a little bit. I’m offering a cuddle experience and nothing
else. Oh this back? What if I’m just on your back, like that. Is that okay? Because there’s interesting pressure points. Is that okay where my… like below your butt? Yeah. That feels good? That feels nice up here. You alright? I like this too. Yeah. There’s actually a lot of health benefits
to cuddling. One is strengthen immune system. Oxytocin is released, which lowers your cortisol
levels. I think of cortisol as like closing the door
and oxytocin opening it in your body. Both are needed, but modern society is a freight
train of cortisol. So oxytocin like brings it back down. Come closer. And then we can hold hands. Okay. Then I can pet your head. Awesome. Does that feel nice? It feels amazing. I think of cuddling as life affirming. You leave it kind of very aware of how you’re
moving in space. The idea is to help you express what it is
that you want. Can I ask for a little more pressure? Yeah. So you just get all these great tools for
how to manage your boundaries in life. But through this touch practice. While I do this as a business, I think that
we in fact all have the power to heal each other, and we all have room to have more touch.

100 thoughts on “I Am A Professional Cuddler For A Living | For A Living | Refinery29”

  1. I'm mad that I thought of this but didn't capitalize on it. I really thought of this exact same premise. I was just scared to start because I didn't know who'd be into it and I didn't want to put myself in danger.

  2. I really appreciate the parallel being brought between touch, boundary and consent-setting; such as being able to 'say no' and not feeling guilty about it. Hopefully, this experienced helped individuals with their own lives outside of the 'touch' realm. 🙂

  3. why this made me cry 😭 I have problems with touch bc of cptsd and chronic ocd. I want to try this because it seems unbiased just like talk therapy. A lot of my issues stem from trust… But i really do think my body still needs that closeness as a human (animal…). Oxytocin is SO integral!

    I wish i could be closer in this way with loved ones… I could barely hug my mom before she passed, and it's hard in my relationships too. People like this make me feel accepted and that there is still hope. American culture is so diminishing when it comes to variations of preference when expressing emotion so I think even fringe opportunities like this will make a difference, slowly, for the future.

  4. I think this job is far more dangerous than prostitution. She's in bed with grown adults. How easy is it for someone to just flip her over and rape her? And I'm not sure of what legalities that would bring. She's putting herself in a stranger's bed. She could get hurt, or she could get a client who accuses her of being inappropriate. I wouldn't consider this to be a safe job at all.

  5. I actually had a training session to do this a few months ago. I never went forward with it for some reason, but I still really want to. I have a lot of self esteem issues and I felt really weird. But this is an absolutely AWESOME field that is literally MAGICAL. It REALLY HEALS people!!!!! I need to get back on that horse because I was GOOD at it.

  6. This is too intimate to do with a stranger for my liking, but I can understand why there’s such a need. It’s so sad that we’ve become less and less connected

  7. This is so stunning, and what makes it more stunning is the two facts that it doesn't turn into sexual process and that people get to learn to say no or yes to what they are going to experience

  8. This makes me so sad – I’m glad the service exists but so sad that loneliness is such a terrifying epidemic in this country

  9. Sometimes people just need a hug, and a random person hugging you seems to be more powerful than someone you know, just like spilling your guts to a complete stranger

  10. I've worked as a PC for about six months, and you could say that not all the clients have the intention of just getting hugs. I had to set some very hard lines and when someone crosses them you have to handle yourself professionally and ask them to leave.

    Those that were appropriate were truly some of the sweetest people that had never gotten to experience real attention and affection like this in their everyday life or at all. I imagine this industry would do really well in Japan.

  11. That's so sweet! Everyone needs a hug at least once in their life and this lady might be the right one to do the job. I'm so glad for people because they need emotional and tender physical support.

  12. Wow, I love cuddling and the security and sense of togetherness it makes me feel. I can see why some people would deeply miss or be in search of that feeling as well.

  13. At one point, I and my coworkers thought the local "cuddlery" was hysterical and creepy. But as I have gone through life, seen lonely depressed people, elderly who have lost their partners, people struggling with ptsd, friends working through codependency of an alcoholic family… This makes sense. Babies need touch, why don't adults? It's not for everyone, or you might already get that from family, friends, pets… But I can see how this would be like therapy or meditation.

  14. My husband goes away for work for 21 days at a time, and when he comes back I can honestly say the biggest thing I am looking forward to is just cuddling, even more than sex. I feel sad for people who think this is 'creepy' or 'inappropriate' – I understand that many people do not like to be touched, for a multitude of reasons, but there is nothing gross or wrong about this. I can see it being incredibly therapeutic. People aren't meant to live alone, to be touch starved. We need and thrive on human connection!

  15. This is so stupid and sexual harassment, if a man came up with this as a career the#metoo police will come busting in.

  16. you have to go through a “cuddling training” which cost from $149-249 and pay a monthly fee of $39 to have your profile listed on their website. wtf

  17. People are talking about how uncomfortable it must be to cuddle with a stranger but I kinda think it's part of what makes it nice.
    I mean you don't know them and they don't know you, there're no obligations , expectations or any sort of feelings between you. Idk I think it's a relief in the same way as it is with therapists. You wouldn't see a therapist who's also a family member you'd rather see a stranger someone who doesn't know you.

  18. Did anyone else get a little cringed by the fact that she wasn’t wearing a bra
    I don’t know he but it feels so uncomfortable and awkward for me when I give people hugs and there boobs are all droopy 😷🤢

  19. Why am I really sitting her wanting to do this for a living 😂💙 we all need live we are all strangers at some point at life

  20. If you think this is weird, there are literally places in Japan where men will go to pay a lot of money just to get non sexual physical touch like a hug or cuddling for 30 minutes. In a place that looks like a capsule hotel. The need for physical touch and affirmation is strong but people think it`s weird. So it affects their kids too.

  21. How do people find this weird? I guarantee alot of people here go fuck some stranger at a night party. How is that not weird?

  22. I'm so f*ckin touch starved, I would pay for this. A lot of people don't understand touch starvation because they have significant others or have pets or do sports/events that include physical touch. Imagine going YEARS without touching another human being. Babies need skin-to-skin contact when they're newborns, it makes sense that adults need it to

  23. Very strange and yet people love watching ASMR videos of people gently brushing hair or giving simple massages. If one has a great and professional massage therapist, it can relieve tons of stress. Maybe your S.O. has arthritis and cant give a massage…then you Pay someone yo do it. I would be real curious about accountability with this work.

  24. I already do this at my strip club just topless. Many men feel like its taboo to see a therapist so a vip room is where they can feel like they can unwind. Being sad should not invalidate your masculanity

  25. I need this. I go through so much stress and emotion and I have anxiety and separation issues. I love feeling touched and the warmth of another human. There are things that can go wrong but this is such a beautiful way to release emotions in a peaceful way

  26. Honestly i feel relaxed and emotional just from seeing this. I have struggled a lot and at one point forgot what hugging was like and this seems like it has some strong potential to help people (not all of course it depends on the person!)
    Thank you for this amazing video!

  27. Imagine if you are doing this with a married/with a relationship person TwT they'll get the wrong idea of them cheating.. xD man i feel bad

  28. Okay,I can't remember when I was last hugged (actually touched) with emotions.. Visiting beauty salons for a facial is the only time I am touched by someone..Always escaping the reality by making myself completely absorbed in work

  29. First of all, I think I would need to try this because I don’t think I could do this, or receive this. But, on another thought, that poor dog sees waaaay too much cuddle porn!

  30. I actually do believe there is such thing as a cuddler.Some people have lost a family member a friend and they need. Someone to hugg them.Is a real thing.Tho it takes someone with a heart to be a cuddler.They need trophies.This is not easy.

  31. This requires human interaction and contact. I'd rather not–
    But dang, what an interesting job! I wonder what people's reaction is when you tell them you're a professional cuddler.

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