Professional cuddler Samantha Hess made headlines last year for her unusual (though increasingly common) line of work, which involves snuggling, spooning and nuzzling strangers of all ages for $60 an hour. Single dads, disabled dudes, the elderly, the lonely and the chronically depressed all cozy up to her for comfort and contentment. And these days, business is booming. The 5-foot, 115-pound cuddle machine is booked solid for the next month.
To answer your question, no, she’s not a prostitute. Her services are strictly platonic and nonsexual in nature. I once followed Hess around for several days, so I should know.
In between her marathon spooning sessions, Hess found the time to pen Touch: The Power of Human Connection, a book that examines the art and (yes) science of cuddling, which will be available on her Cuddle Up To Me website next week. She offered Vocativ an exclusive sneak peek, excerpted below.
Drawing from her professional know-how, Hess has developed an elaborate series of 19 separate cuddling positions, each with step-by-step instructions. The maneuvers are geared toward specific “cuddling personalities” (there’s a quiz), with varying degrees of complexity and intimacy. Some are safe to practice in a park, others are best enjoyed behind closed doors, and a few you should probably just leave to the professionals.
Named after a cat, this position was designed to channel your inner feline, and is recommended in 15-minute doses. Meow.
“Start with one person lying flat and have the second person start sitting on their knees next to the first. They can then drape themselves across the first person in a leisurely way, resting their head on the chest or shoulder of the other as they find a comfortable position for their legs. Melchior is a fluffy gray cat with a striking wit and shameless self-indulgence. If you put something important down, he will immediately lie down on it so you will have to pet him if you want it back.”
The Tandem Bike
For those with moderate flexibility, this ride is affectionate, though strenuous over the course of half an hour. Helmets optional.
“The Tandem Bike was created as a hybrid of the spoon to allow lots of touch and talk time. I find that this position is one of my favorites for early mornings or late nights with my special someone. Start in the basic spoon position and have the little spoon rotate to about a 45-degree angle. Next the little spoon will bring out their bottom knee as if they were on a bike, and the big spoon can then bring their top leg across bent at the knee to mirror this movement. This position is so comfortable, you may never want to ride a real bike again.”
Ideal in five-minutes doses, the Tarantino is all about face-to-foot time.
“If you are anything like QuentinTarantino [an avowed foot enthusiast], this position may be for you. Start by having one person sit up leaning against a pillow. This person will then bend their knees with their feet flat. The second person comes in near their feet and sits below their knees (the first person’s legs go to the sides). Bring the second person’s feet to rest on the chest of the other, and arms can rest on top of their knees.”
The Bee’s Knees
For cautious cuddlers of comparable height, it’s simply the best (in 30-minute intervals).
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you knees though, make a pillow. Start by having one person lie down on their side with their knees slightly bent forward, and steadily balanced. The second person starts by placing their head on the knees (or legs near the knee if more comfortable) of the other person and aligning themselves so their partner may do the same.”
No mattress? No problem. Try a human bed for five minutes or so. But please, be very gentle.
“Whenever we need a moment to hide from the world there is no better cover than the unconditional love of another. The Cloak is inspired by the need to see the world from a myopic point of view. To ensure both parties are comfortable, I recommend the person on the top to be no bigger than the person beneath.”
The Blooming Lotus
For those adventurous cuddlers looking to add to their expanding repertoire.
“The Blooming Lotus is inspired by the idea that those little moments where you can sit down and give someone your undivided attention will leave a lasting impression on their soul in a beautiful way. Sit facing each other close enough that you can wrap your legs around one another, and bring your hands to rest on whomever’s knees are on top.”
Settle in. This may take an hour or more.
“Begin by having one person lie on their back and one on their side next to each other. The one on their side brings up their knees as the other does the same to create a double cradle of sorts. You can wrap your arms around each other and hold on tight. Pretty soon you’ll feel the love of the world encompassing you, keeping you safe and warm.”