Boyfriends and friends used to tell Jacqueline Samuels, the woman pictured above, that she was so good at cuddling and spooning she should do it for a living. Now, she does. She runs a professional cuddle parlor in Rochester, New York called The Snuggery. Business is good, which inspired a Portland, Oregon woman named Samantha Hess, pictured below, to become a professional cuddler herself. Hess charges $60 a visit. She first meets a potential client in a public place, and if she gets a good vibe from them, she will cuddle them. But there’s no funny business. Clothes stay on. Although I can’t help but think that most of these women’s clients (most of whom are men) want to have sex with them, the fact that they don’t probably makes the sessions therapeutic (surely intimacy without sex builds character or promotes personal growth?). Jacqueline says that many of her clients are getting divorced, going through a breakup, or are otherwise between relationships and miss being touched. Supposedly, this is a fast-growing field. I can’t wait to one day attend a convention of professional cuddlers. I would be fascinated to observe the types of people who are willing to caress the skin and stroke the hair of strangers.
In this photo, Sarah Gish is the one who’s not Beyonce. Gish is in PR, in Houston, but her bigger mission is helping others connect—to themselves, to their passion, to others. On her Web site, there is a video of a PBS “Living Art Show” interview of Gish that is classically lo-fi: the show’s set resembles a poorly lit dentist office lobby, and in the course of the interview, the footage they cut to, of ordinary people in unglamorous settings, is so dull and unapologetically grounded in reality as to be almost fascinating in its boringness. And yet… the total effect of all of the above is bracing and strangely life-affirming. The show host has an appealing “I don’t fall for any bullshit” edge, but she seems to like Sarah Gish, and here’s why: with simple but brilliant observations, Gish lays out all the keys to having a rich, satisfying life. She is so earnest and wise, I’d trust the woman with my life. And actually, you can—you can pay her to ignite your life. She leads bi-monthly “What’s Your Purpose?” workshops and an ongoing “Follow Your Heart Transformation Circle” for women. But look, if you click on the video and you don’t respond to what she’s saying, maybe you need to eat some protein. Go make an egg, then try again. Hit the “play” arrow and let Gish tell you how to set your life on fire, in a good way.