For $80 an hour, Astoria resident Brianna Quijada will provide you with a professional cuddle session at a studio, hotel room or your own home.
Quijada, 30, began hosting sessions at Cuddlist, where she engages in “therapeutic, non-sexual cuddle sessions” according to the company’s website. She moonlights as a professional cuddler after working her day job as a manager at a vegan restaurant on the Upper East Side, she told The New York Times.
After rethinking her acting and singing career in Arizona — Quijada’s audition aired on a season of “American Idol” — she became unhappy with auditioning and decided to try something new after a friend suggested she tries cuddling.
“I just wanted touch,” Quijada told The New York Times. “It seemed like a safe way to explore that. It seems weird to think that if I wasn’t in a monogamous relationship and wasn’t having sex, I wasn’t getting that kind of touch.”
Customers have to follow several rules such as keeping their clothes on during the entire session. The meetups are usually held at studios like Breather, where you can rent space by the hour, or hotel rooms or homes. The first 45 minutes with a new client are structured around ice breakers and going over rules before the cuddling begins, she said.
Clients ask for hand-holding, synchronized breathing, eye-gazing and other motions that induce “relaxation.” Quijada told The New York Times that clients come from “all walks of life” and that most of them are in their mid-30s to mid-50s. They range from a man who attended Burning Man several times to people in the corporate world.
She cited the benefits of cuddling, which include the raising of oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.”
“When I experience consensual touch, I am more in my body, I’m more comfortable,” Quijada told The New York Times. “It’s like a feeling of being understood. It raises your oxytocin, it calms the fight-or-flight response. At the same time, there’s a feeling of vulnerability, so it’s a really interesting way to connect.”