Avoiding Arousal Is An Important Part Of The Gig
A lot of folks aren't used to cuddling with anyone whom they aren't going to, or at least hoping to, fuck. Jean said, "Because in our culture the concept of touch and sex are so married, it takes some reeducation to remind people what they were like in elementary school, before all the rules came and separated us so cruelly."
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You have to provide your own post-naptime juice boxes, however.
In other words, some people have trouble accepting that "a person I find attractive is touching me" doesn't always precede the exchange of fluids. In order to protect her employees, Jean is very proactive about dealing with arousal: "I want to clarify that it's not just men ... but with men it's more obvious, and it can be like a flash." Boners. Those are boners she's very politely referring to.
"First of all, we talk about arousal at every workshop, and with every client. A guy coming into the service is really scared, [because an erection carries] the potential for spring-loaded shame." It doesn't have to be an issue, though. "If somebody is the big spoon, that might create some arousal. Well, why not get away from the spoon position for a while? Step away for a moment."
It's enough of a thing that, as a rule, it's only sightly less important than "Take a damn shower first."
Jean has personally had issues with clients getting too close: "I had a client straight-up say, 'I like you and I'd like to date you.' And we had a straight-up discussion ... 'Do you want to keep having the cuddle appointments?' ... He said, 'I want to keep cuddling. I feel like I can distinguish between the two, and I'll let you know if that changes.'"
She also encountered an issue with her very first client: "He just says, 'This is opening my heart and making me feel very affectionate' ... and I happened to make mention of my boyfriend, and he was like, 'What, you have a boyfriend?' ... and [he said that] maybe I don't need to mention that in a session, it's not about my life ... and I noticed he didn't come again."
In order to keep her cuddlers safe, she's instituted a buddy system: "I have the driver's license of anyone who comes to work with any of my cuddlers. And we use what's called a silent alarm, and the client is aware of that. Somebody who works with Cuddle Sanctuary will know when a cuddle is supposed to be over and the client gone. The pro cuddler uses a safe word to let their safety buddy know they are done."
If you can figure a sneaky way to nab fingerprints, even better.
But Jean stressed that despite (or because of) all those precautions, she's never had a serious issue. And neither has Tom. In fact, they're both a bit perplexed that touching is considered so contentious at all, when there are obviously an awful lot of people down with paying to snuggle.
Robert Evans runs the Cracked personal experience article team, and he has a book coming out. You can order A Brief History of Vice now.
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