How does one become a professional cuddler? How does one determine that his or her skills at cuddling are so elite that they could be used in a retail setting? How desperate do you have to be to accept cuddles from a stranger?

These are but a few of the questions that come to mind when hearing about Samantha Hess, an Oregon woman who recently opened up a “cuddling studio” called “Cuddle Up To Me.” The business model is exactly what it sounds like: you pay $60, and Hess will snuggle with you for an hour. It’s strictly platonic, no funny business; there are video cameras in every room to make sure of that.

You have to sign a waiver and pass a screening before Hess will accept you for snuggle time, and with good reason. “In our culture, the only experience someone has with this kind of touching has been in a romantic sense,” she said. “It's not always easy for people to switch their brains to simply being platonic about it.”

There are theme rooms to help customers relax, and—in a completely unsurprising development—Hess says that the majority of her clients are men who don’t normally get a lot of human contact.

Business is apparently booming. Hess said she had over 1000 customers in her first week, and her website drew so much traffic that it overloaded the server and crashed. That’s a lot of people in need of a cuddle. Can you say “franchise?”

Also, can you imagine what would happen if a guy tried to open up a store like this? He would have literally zero clients and would be out of business in a week. So creepy.

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[via MSN]