UPDATED Monday, December 9, 2013 --- 11:59 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- An attorney for a new snuggling business in Wisconsin's capital city says the operation has shut down.
Madison's Snuggle House offered customers cuddles with a professional snuggler for $60 an hour. The business opened Nov. 15. A posting on the Snuggle House's Facebook page late Friday said the business had closed. Attorney Tim Casper, who represents Snuggle House owner Matthew Hurtado, confirmed the closure to The Associated Press on Monday.
He says Hurtado was tired of scrutiny from city officials, who were concerned the business could be a brothel and the potential for sexual assaults, as well as negative publicity.
Casper says the business had several dozen clients. But he says Hurtado didn't open the business to make money. He did it because he believes non-sexual touching can relieve stress.
Copyright 2013: Associated Press
UPDATED Friday, November 15, 2013 --- 6:07 p.m.
It's not your everyday business, in fact so rare that finding an insurance company took a month. After a long search, The Snuggle House is now open for business.
Selling snuggles.They say it's as simple as that. Anyone who needs a companion or just wants to be held, can make an appointment, pay a fee, and cuddle away.
The Main Street business first faced scrutiny from the city, and skepticism from the public. Many found it hard to believe snuggling wouldn't turn into something more.
But the owner says each "snuggle session" is monitored the entire time by an employee and they make sure the touch therapy never crosses into anything sexual.
One employee says some people don't have anyone to turn to, and it's rewarding to help them.
"There's a lot of loneliness in the world and with the holidays there are a lot of people who just have a hard time and they don't have anyone," says Professional Snuggler, Lonnie Johnson.
The Snuggle House had it's first client Friday morning, and expects to have 8-10 clients each day, meaning a lot of laundry. Just like a hotel the sheets have to come off and be cleaned between each session.
The Snuggle House currently has three "snugglers" they're hoping to hire a couple more.
UPDATED Wednesday, November 13, 2013 --- 3:12 p.m.
A Madison business that is offering snuggles for $60 an hour plans to open Friday.
In a post on its Facebook page, The Snuggle House said it is now accepting appointments for Friday.
UPDATED Sunday, October 20, 2013 --- 7:23 p.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Madison business that is offering snuggles for $60 an hour hopes to open this week.
The Snuggle House in Madison was supposed to launch last Tuesday. But Jennifer Zilavy, an assistant city attorney, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel(http://bit.ly/GUfakZ) the business still needs a certificate of occupancy and to show that it has hiring, training, security and other written protocols.
She says the city's concern is whether the business could lead to prostitution.
Owner Matthew Hurtado says there are eight security cameras and staff has received training about how to react to possible scenarios.
Zilavy said she hadn't seen any written materials, and couldn't say when it would be ready for business.
Hurtado said Sunday he plans to meet with the city Tuesday and turn over the paperwork. He hopes to open Wednesday.
Copyright 2013: Associated Press
UPDATED Wednesday, October 16, 2013 --- 3:16 p.m.
Employees of the Snuggle House hope to open for business in Madison by next Wednesday, October 23rd.
Today, employees of the controversial business were downtown on the Capitol Square offering “free hugs.”
Some in the city are concerned that the business has the potential of prostitution, but Snuggle House employees say their services are strictly non-sexual.
The Snuggle House is holding an open house until 6 o'clock tonight (Wednesday).
UPDATED Tuesday, October 15, 2013-- 6:15 p.m.
It looks like someone bedroom, but it's actually a business. For a fee, you can get inside and snuggle up with someone. A service people working here say is about unconditional love.
"There's this whole part of us that gets neglected some of the time," said The Snuggle House employee, Lonnie Johnson.
In a typical setting above a downtown Madison Bar is The Snuggle House.
Inside are several bedrooms laid out for therapeutic cuddle sessions.
"Stress levels go down, you feel better, anxiety in a lot of people just dissipates," said Johnson.
Clients pay for an hour of service that isn't restricted to hitting the sheets
"If you want to curl up and lay down for good old fashioned snuggling you can do that, if you want to sit and talk, if you want to cry on my shoulder, I'm totally cool with that," said Johnson.
Johnson's one of five employees who says The Snuggle House provides a controlled environment for what he says should be a way of life.
"I would love to see everybody do this in general as a way of living," said Johnson. "A legitimacy of a business sets people at ease."
They've reached out to the VA, nursing homes, and others who may be neglected of affection.
"A safe place people can go to really be consoled and comforted and feel that warmth of human love that doesn't have any undertones," said Johnson.
But not everyone's convinced.
"It kind of creeped me out a little bit," said Beth Rudy. "You kind of wonder what they're up to in there."
The Snuggle House is in the final stages of inspections before opening but already with nearly 100 appointments made.
The city of Madison is concerned the business has the potential of prostitution, but The Snuggle House ensures their services are strictly non-sexual
"Security wise, protocol wise, we are covered. We are not negotiated any way any of those situations," said Johnson.
Staff says their clients and employees go through background checks, and there will be video surveillance in each room.
But a city of Madison attorney says their lack of training or a business plan raises a reg flag.
The Snuggle House plans to officially open by next week.
Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013 --- 11:32 a.m.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The owner of the Snuggle House in Madison says he has a plan to address concerns of city officials and hopes to open next week.
Owner Matthew Hurtado says the business passed the building inspection Tuesday morning and a fire inspection is set for Friday.
Assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy says the business has not presented a business plan. Zilvay says the city's primary concern is about the potential for prostitution.
But Hurtado says the touch therapy it offers has clear boundaries in place to stay within the law. He says they also plan to have someone monitoring security cameras in the rooms.
He says he and his attorney hope to meet soon with city officials and if that goes well he plans to open next week.
Copyright 2013: Associated Press