- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

MAPLEWOOD, Mo. (AP) - A St. Louis suburb is giving the cold shoulder to a business where people pay for snuggling.

The Maplewood planning and zoning commission unanimously rejected a license application to open a location for Embrace Me Now, which charges for various sessions of snuggling for those seeking human contact, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1EdK9OO ) reported.

The first reaction to the company’s application for a license “was laughter,” said board member Sandi Phillips earlier this month.

“I mean, ‘professional snuggling?’” Phillips said. “We’re progressive - but not that progressive.”

The business is run by Jeff and Leslie Rundquist and began operating in March out of Jeff’s office in a St. Louis neighborhood. It’s modeled after cuddling companies that have recently popped up in Portland, Oregon, San Francisco and New York City.

Rundquist said the company, which employs three women and one man, has attracted about two dozen clients ranging from ages 20 to 64. He compared his business to massage therapy and added that they don’t claim to be healers because the people they treat aren’t ill, but are simply lonely.

“They just want some human contact,” he said.

Rates start at $30 for half an hour and rise up to $400 for an all-night session.

Josh Jackson, an assistant professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, said the need for human closeness is continuous throughout someone’s life.

“There is a lot of literature out there that loneliness, not having close friends, is related to premature mortality and overall poor health,” he said.

Jackson expressed doubt that paying for an embrace could replace genuine friendship but said it’s plausible that a business like Embrace Me Now “could satisfy a need for a human connection.”

Rundquist said he’s undeterred by Maplewood’s rejection. He said he’s looking at other St. Louis neighborhoods and in Fenton to move his business.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide