Intimacy is scary. In a world where our lives are increasingly public and under scrutiny — from our taste in food and music to the nature of our weekend plans — and in a time when the notion of privacy is archaic and the rawness of our innermost feelings is eminently hackable, basic vulnerability has become an intimidating concept. As a result, reaching out for help, in space both real and virtual, can be humiliating.
Cuddle Buddy originated from thoughts about this new world order and an investigation into this reality through the lens of a service gaining popularity worldwide: Professional Cuddling. While prowling Craigslist Personal Ads for creative fuel, we were surprised by the numerous appeals for “platonic massage.” Curious, we found other websites facilitating these encounters. Some sites were akin to MySpace circa 2003 with grainy selfies, irreverent bios and rate charges of $60 to $80/hour. Other seemed more legitimate, with training programs, waivers, and contracts. Some of these ‘cuddlers’ offered sexual services, but the more reputable outfits stressed their goal in fulfilling a platonic, emotional need.
What kind of person gravitates towards providing this service? Or invites a stranger into their home? We attempted to depict two ordinary women in an unordinary circumstance. In Clara and Regina we hope the audience recognizes qualities, hopes and yearnings, and perhaps a reflection of their most private selves.
With Cuddle Buddy, we hope to inspire a generation of people to slow down, breath in, and dare to connect.
– Isabel Shill, Diana Irvine & Max Barbakow