Photo by Mark Hunter
Hot and cold running sex. No-holds-barred, behind-the-woodpile, back-alley-hump-fest action. Sound good? Too bad, because you wont find any of that at a Cuddle Party. Yes, Cuddle Party. And, like tomato soup or car wash, the name doesnt lie. It has nothing to do with an aught-four excuse for a swingers paradise or a get-laid-quick scheme; its simply a gathering of adults who like to cuddle.
Perhaps you remember it, cuddling? Back when you were 3 feet tall and weighed less than your largest dog? Slipping into those flannel jammies, then slipping into the snuggly embrace of a loving parent, or a familiar relative? It was all about feeling safe, warm and peaceful, way before base, animalistic desires clouded your mind and touching triggered a nonstop craving for sexual delirium.
Oh yes, it was about safety, it was about warmth, it was about cuddling. And so it still should be, according to Cuddle Party founders Reid Mihalko, 36, and Marcia Baczynski, 26.
Theres such a need for it out there, explains cuddle boss Mihalko. If you look at a lot of the womens magazines, its all about 101 New Blowjob Techniques. So even the socialization from the womens point of view is all about sex. For the men, we have to be Eveready Fuck Machines, and were not allowed to spend time with the woman. Nowhere in any of this is there room for people to say hi to one another.
If all of this sounds very L.A., it isnt. The couple, who are sex educators and are strictly business partners, are based in the famously non-touchy-feely town of New York, where eight months ago they began holding Cuddle Parties in Mihalkos fifth-floor walkup apartment. No booze, no drugs, no music. Twenty participants or so at each C.P., ranging in age from 19 to 80, so far. And its taken off. Theyve gotten tons of major press, they have a newsletter, they have a Web site (www.cuddleparty.com), theyre scheduling parties in London and Washington, D.C., and will be in Los Angeles February 25 and 26 for a Cuddle Training Seminar. (Cuddle training? We dont need no stinking cuddle training.) The Jimmy Kimmel show has called, for Gods sake, all because of cuddling.
And it really isnt about picking up and getting down, according to Mihalko. This isnt Bob Cranes idea of fun. Heres what happens, after cuddlers pay 30 bucks to get in:
People show up, they change into their pajamas, and we have a couple different exercises that are designed to break the ice and set the precedent for the type of communication that will exist for the next three hours, he says. Because people get weird about kissing and touching, one of the rules is that you cant touch anybody unless you ask. The first exercise we have is the No exercise. You look the person next to you in the eyes and say, May I kiss you? and the person says No. So in the first 10 minutes youve been rejected, which gets you over the fear that What if nobody wants to cuddle me?
After the icebreaking rejection, there are 16 rules that are discussed, including the crucial No. 7.
Which is no dry humping, explains a stern Mihalko. One of the conversations we have is about erections. And that has more to do with making the guys feel comfortable than the girls. A lot of men still have that eighth-grade fear of What if I pop a woody and I get called to the math board? Im screwed.
Rest assured, whether an hombres fear is hard numbers or a hard member, there is no threat of being screwed at a Cuddle Party.
How does this not become an orgy? asks Mihalko. People are like, Okay, I remember what it was like being a kid, and have it not have to be sexual. Theres really a need out there for a non-sexual-agenda-driven space for people to relate. Its like, God, how great is it to sit down and meet somebody interesting and not have in the back of your head, what if he wants to take me home? Or, If I dont take her home, shes going to think Im gay.
But if you are gay and you want to cuddle, youre in luck.
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Were throwing single-sex Cuddle Parties for the gay mens community, offers Mihalko. Its like, Heres a place I can relax and not have to break a record for getting somebody into bed the fastest.
Beyond needy humans, Mihalko and Baczynski may soon be counting dollar bills among their cuddle partners.
We have to make money with it or we cant keep doing it. Its all trademarked, and our lawyers very cuddly, unless hes angry, so hes helped us out a lot, Mihalko says. In January were going to start officially training people to facilitate a Cuddle Party, and well have a certification program available, so well have sanctioned individuals who can throw Cuddle Party functions. We also have a home manual for people who want to throw Cuddle Parties just for their friends and families on a noncommercial basis. When you start dealing with strangers and money, theres all kinds of legal aspects and professional considerations on how to choose when its appropriate for somebody to be at a Cuddle Party.
Nestle in, lonely people.