BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: Well, are you having a stressful week at work? Do you have problems showing emotion? If so, my next guests have just the solution for you. Cuddle parties are the new craze. But beware there are rules. During these three-hour “cuddlefests,” clothes must stay on at all times, sex is not allowed, and alcohol is not permitted. But it’s all about hands-on fun. I’m not kidding!
Joining me now are the founders of cuddleparty.com, Marcia Baczynski and Reid Milhako.
OK. Thanks for joining us.
REID MILHAKO, CO-FOUNDER, CUDDLEPARTY.COM: Thanks for having us.
MARCIA BACZYNSKI, CO-FOUNDER, CUDDLEPARTY.COM: Thank you.
BUTTNER: So the idea is that we don’t get enough touching in the worlds?
BACZYNSKI: Basically, yes. We — as adults in North American society — are in a corporate environment, or we are working, you know, owning a business or something like that, and we just aren’t allowed to touch one another. And so what happens is that after a week of work, not being able to touch anybody, you go home to your apartment every night. By the end of the week, you’re like...
BUTTNER: So we’re showing video of cuddle parties. Gosh! You know, my concern — so people are paying for this, right, Reid?
BUTTNER: And how much do they pay for a — what is it?
MILHAKO: For a cuddle party?
MILHAKO: The entire cuddle party’s $30.
BUTTNER: Yes. And how long do you get to cuddle?
MILHAKO: It’s three-and-a-half hours.
BUTTNER: Wow! Is there some danger that this could become like an orgy?
MILHAKO: Well, the first message is that a cuddle party is a non-sexual event. It’s sensual because we’re dealing with touch, but we make sure it’s never going to become sexual.
BUTTNER: There are certain rules.
BUTTNER: We have some of those: There’s no kissing.
MILHAKO: Kissing is allowed.
BUTTNER: But you need a verbal yes.
MILHAKO: Yes. It’s all about communication, and, you know, one thing in our society is that we don’t have a lot of space for welcome touch or appropriate touch, especially like what Marcia said, in the workplace.
BUTTNER: And clothes have to stay on at all times.
BACZYNSKI: The whole time.
MILHAKO: Pajamas stay on the whole time.
BUTTNER: OK. And what else like makes this stay pretty...
MILHAKO: Well, if I was facilitating the cuddle party, I’m the cuddle lifeguard on duty. Like I’m the David Hasselhoff of flannel. And my job is to make sure that, you know, sex doesn’t break out.
When we’re kids, we’re very cuddly, touchy-feely, everybody’s hugging us. Then as adolescents, when we start to get into our sexuality and who we are as sexual beings, everybody freaks out, and, basically, the message from the culture is stop touching one another because sex will happen.
And what’s happened here is that we’re adults, we have a way to control our urges. But we just don’t think we can and so everybody stops touching one another, and, then, you know, all that nutritiousness [sic] of being held and all the jokes about "I just want to be held. Is that so wrong?" You know, we need more touch in our society, and it’s not happening.
BUTTNER: So you’re kind of making money, though, off of people’s loneliness. Does that bother you at all?
BACZYNSKI: Well not so much the loneliness, actually. We get a lot of people who come in, and they just like to be affectionate. But, yes, it’s a business. We started it about six months ago, and, you know, it’s growing, and we’ve got a lot of interest from a lot of places.
BUTTNER: You guys must get lots of cuddles. You must be very, very healthy.
MILHAKO: We’re very cuddly.
BUTTNER: And cuddle lifeguards in there all the time, right?
BACZYNSKI: Right, right.
BUTTNER: Now, I know that you try to keep things very innocent, but sometimes you can’t always. Now what do you do in those cases?
BACZYNSKI: We have some rules set up and various silly exercises that we do that actually do make it very clear what the boundaries are and what behavior is appropriate and what behavior is not appropriate, and we have no problem just telling someone, you know, that’s not appropriate, and if they keep pushing the line, we will ask them to leave.
BUTTNER: And it’s been very, very popular? It’s been growing.
MILHAKO: Yes, we’re getting from all over the world now. We’re getting e-mails from people like when is there going to be a cuddle party in Britain and, you know, things like that. So we’ve clearly hit some resonance for people in general, and we’re just overwhelmed and we’re very grateful.
BUTTNER: OK. All right. Cuddle up is the message. Thank you so much for joining us.
BACZYNSKI: Thank you.
MILHAKO: Thanks for having us.
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