Kan Seidel is a professional cuddler. That is, he get’s paid to snuggle up with people who need physical non-sexual compassion in their lives. Seidel’s business, Cuddlist, went viral several months ago, getting the business off to a great beginning.
But Seidel’s colleague, fellow cuddlist Amaku Ukpong, is revealing some of the shocking experiences about customers. In an interview with BET, Ukpong explained that the majority of her work is in the Financial District of Manhattan, which is dominated by white men.
“I have been contacted by many white males that have expressed so many times to me, they’ve never had close contact with a woman of color,” Ukpong revealed. “And so for them it’s new, it’s interesting. I get a lot who say, ‘I’ve never touched a Black woman before,’ because maybe it was something that wasn’t encouraged, or allowed growing up. And they think somehow it’s supposed to be different.”
Some of the white male applicants don’t sound ideal, however. Ukpong explained that she denied one application because the motives didn’t sound true.
“He mentioned to me something like, ‘I’ve never touched a Black woman before. I’m curious cause you know what they say about Black women.’ And I was like, ‘Well, I could only imagine, but since this isn’t a sexual service it doesn’t matter what they say.’ So I had to end that conversation real quick,” she said.
For many women of color, working in a personal service like this can be unnerving.
“You know there’s that history of rape and violence against all women of color and that energy is still there to a certain degree,” Ukpong said. “It’s not even all historical traumas; just day to day cat-calling is disrespectful. So I feel like women of color are going to start to use this service a lot. And we need more women of color to provide this service because we feel safe with each other.”
The positive news is that because Seidel’s video showed people of color, there are customers who see the service as something that people of color can utilize.
“I’ve had two Black women book my services,” Ukpong said. “I actually just recently had a session with one of them, and what I’m beginning to understand is that women of color definitely need support in a place that’s safe because traditionally, women of color have not been safe in the arms of white men.”
Here’s a video of the service below: