Wisconsin’s ultra-liberal capital city is a place where just about anything goes, from street parties to naked bike rides. But city officials say a business is pushing even Madison’s boundaries by offering, of all things, hugs.
For $60 (R618), customers at the Snuggle House can spend an hour hugging, cuddling and spooning with professional snugglers.
Snugglers contend touching helps relieve stress. But Madison officials suspect the business is a front for prostitution and, if it’s not, fear snuggling could lead to sexual assault. Police have openly talked about conducting a sting operation at the business, and city attorneys are drafting a new ordinance to regulate snuggling.
“There’s no way that [sexual assault] will not happen,” assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy said. “No offence to men, but I don’t know any man who wants to just snuggle.”
Snuggle House owner Matthew Hurtado has not responded to requests for an interview. His attorney, Tim Casper, said last month the business was legitimate and Hurtado had put precautions in place to protect clients and employees from each other.
“The concept is obviously a novel one and you can see where they [the city] might be a little sceptical,” he said.
In recent days, it has become unclear whether or not the house is still in business. A posting on a Facebook page claiming to be the Snuggle House’s site said it had closed. – Sapa-AP