When a business card arrives at your door offering "cuddling" services by the hour — $20 per hour fully clothed and $35 per hour "if the client would like me to be in my bra and panties during our session" — there are really two ways to look at it:
You either can assume that the service is a pajama-thin front for prostitution, or you could suspend that cynical-though-rational assumption and wonder if the business is for real — perhaps offering something that has been lost in the era of social media and e-mail.
For Faith Black, who started CuddleBug last November, it was definitely the latter. "Everyone needs to be touched. Cuddling is a great way to get the close, personal contact that everyone needs without involving the intimacy of sex," she writes on her website, cuddlebug.jimdo.com. The "sessions are meant to heal the mind, put the body at ease, and overall relax the spirit.
"I have experienced firsthand what can happen if a person is not touched enough. Depression, loneliness, anxiety, failure to thrive," she continues. "I strongly believe that every person in the world has an amount that they need to be touched over a period of time. The brush of fingertips with the clerk at the grocery store, the simple tap of the shoulder when someone is trying to get your attention, the gentle brush of the arm as someone rushes past you. All of these simple acts give us, little by little, all the touch that some of us need in life. Some of us can be very happy only rarely being touched, while others need to be touched much more often. I am a person who needs to be touched a little more than most, and this was the main reason that I started CuddleBug."
CuddleBug has gotten off to a slow start, but Black says she has developed a group of regulars, primarily men (though her services are open to women, as well) in their fifties and sixties whose children have moved out and who are divorced or whose partners have died; some of them pay for Black's services overnight, which run $160 for eight hours of clothed cuddling, $280 for Black in her bra and panties.
"A lot of people are lacking touch in their lives and don't realize it," says Black, who describes herself as a rape survivor, a certified nursing assistant and an active member of Denver's kink scene. "For me, personally, there was a time when I felt really lonely, but just being with another person wasn't enough to make that go away. I needed to touch or be touched. Some people just need touch in their life. For some people, there is not really a way to get that in our society outside of prostitution."
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Which, again, isn't what Black is offering. And for those who think it is, she insists she's "pretty good at weeding them out right off the bat. Some clients try to go beyond cuddling.... I have walked out on one or two clients for that kind of behavior."
To prevent having to do that in the future, Black now tries to meet prospective clients "before any cuddling is done to discuss what the client hopes to get out of it and spend some time getting to know them to assure the client's satisfaction," she says. "But it is not required." She also asks that she be allowed to keep proof of a client's identity by way of a photo ID.
So what do the cops think of CuddleBug? On her website, Black notes that cuddling is definitely legal, and asks clients to cover their genitals. "People often assume that cuddling implies a sexual service is being offered," she says. "Professional cuddling does not qualify as prostitution, because we do not offer sexual services of any kind."
Scene and herd: It's not easy being green. That's what some St. Patrick's Day revelers discovered on Saturday. Along one particularly colorful alley in LoDo, just a few blocks from the parade route but many green beers after the parade had passed them by, we spotted four fellows peeing against one brick wall — while on the other side, three gals were puking. Faith and begorrah!