This is Jackie Samuel, a 29-year-old New York grad student who charges $1 a minute to cuddle with people. Men and women. At her home. Which she calls "The Snuggery."
Yes, this is for real, it's getting major media attention, and it's all perfectly legal. For now.
Samuel told the <em>Henrietta Post </em>that she informally <a href="http://www.henriettapost.com/features/x1990297700/Meet-Penfield-snuggler-Jackie-Samuel?zc_p=0">cuddled for cash</a> years ago, but launched the more official company at the end of her spring semester. The reason, of course, is to help pay the bills for her and her son while she studies social work in the Masters program at the University of Rochester.
The payout? According to <em><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227708/Jackie-Samuel-snuggle-Cuddling-makes-woman-260-day-New-York.html" target="_blank">The Daily Mail</a></em>, she scores around $260 a day from people snuggling alongside her. Cuddlers are fully clothed. sometimes napping, sometimes just resting, and nothing sexual takes place. Doing the rough math (assuming she works 5-days a week, 52 weeks a year, and not excluding holidays), she could take in approximately $67,600 annually. Not bad for a little nap time.
<a href="http://firsttoknow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Woman_Cuddles_For_Living300.jpg"><img class="alignright size-full wp-image-12326" title="Woman_Cuddles_For_Living300" src="http://firsttoknow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Woman_Cuddles_For_Living300.jpg" alt="Woman gets paid to cuddle with people for a living." width="300" height="400" /></a>Samuel did try to make her business official, explaining to <a href="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2012/07/11/dnt-ny-woman-starts-cuddle-business.wham">CNN</a>, "I need some kind of certification or license that says I'm a certified cuddler, but I couldn't find anybody else who was doing what I was doing." But, as <em><a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/jackie-samuel-snuggery-charges-1-minute-for-cuddling-2012-11" target="_blank">Business Insider</a></em> noted, certified cuddling isn't a thing you can get a license for, so she's doing it anyway. And, things are going very well.
"Since July, things have expanded," the <em>BI</em> article states. "Samuel has offered new services, like reading bedtime stories, and hired a red-headed associate named Colleen." However, at this stage Colleen can only participate in "<a href="http://www.thesnuggery.org/rates_services.html">double cuddle" sessions with Samuels</a>, which cost $2 a minute.
"I think clients come to me for all different kinds of reasons," Samuel told the <em>Daily Mail</em>. "Some of my older clients, their wives have passed away, and they just need someone to be with, like someone to experience touch with. Some of the younger clients are between relationships, some are in problematic relationships, and some people are just really curious and they come to just find out what it's going to be like."
That said, not everyone is supportive when they learn about her current occupation.
"Some have said I am worse than a prostitute because they think snuggling is more intimate than sex. I've been told I'm monetizing love."
People's opinions aside, legally this is not prostitution, which is the act of offering one's self for hire to engage in sexual relations. Samuel makes it clear on her website and in person that sexual activity is not permitted, and states that clients must wear clothing and can't touch body parts covered by underwear. Still, with all the media attention she's been getting lately, it's only a matter of time before the state steps in to make sure her home business is really above board.
Until then, Samuel shall hug on. As he said, "I think I was born knowing how to snuggle. Snuggling is healthy, spiritual and fun."
<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227708/Jackie-Samuel-snuggle-Cuddling-makes-woman-260-day-New-York.html" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: 9px;"><em>Photos: Daily Mail</em></span></a>