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My Night at the Cuddle Party

December 21, 2014 in Blogs

By JD Irpino, Salon

After seven years without a date, I was desperate to be touched. Desperate enough for weirdness like this.

It had been 10 years since I walked away from the seminary; seven since I’d had a date. I was 33, and had moved to New York only six months before. I read about a Cuddle Party in Hell’s Kitchen and I figured it would be a sideshow, but maybe a safe way to get back in action. I found the posting on Craigslist.


I copied the information, closed my laptop, showered and flossed in my Brooklyn studio sublet. Then I headed to the address where the party was to take place. I was excited, but I might have been delusional from not having been touched in so long.

“Welcome to Cuddle Party. I’m Harry,” said the man who opened the door. He was in his late fifties with a fading hairline, and wearing shiny blue silk pajamas with white piping, like Hugh Hefner. His voice was slow and creamy. Harry took me in his arms, swaying me back and forth, then whispered in my ear, “thirty bucks.”

I started feeling around his waist to see if he had anything on him, handcuffs, a gun or wireless mic. I actually hoped I was getting involved in something tawdry. I wanted  to be bad. Whenever I’d tried, I’d failed miserably. Harry didn’t have anything on him, but I couldn’t stop rubbing, I loved the feeling of his pajamas.

The “Center” was a basic two-bedroom apartment with a large living room. There was crown molding, a fireplace, dusty ferns everywhere and a sloping, worn-down hardwood floor covered with blankets. Ten people, split evenly between men and women, mostly in their forties, sat around a guy in front of the fireplace. Everyone looked very nice and very pathetic, which is par for the course when a group of single strangers hang out out in their pajamas. I’d mistakenly worn a two-button charcoal gray suit, trying to make a good impression.

I scanned their faces. I was worried nobody would want to be with me. I checked to see if anyone was looking my way. I didn’t know if it was because I was late or because of …read more


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