Phillip J. Powell's clients are all female. Most are white and in their 30s or 40s.
A majority have been single for some time, while others are divorcees.
At least one-third are in long-term relationships and claim to lack affection from their steady partners, but they'd rather not let their wives or girlfriends know about the meetings.
"I can't discriminate based on relationship status," Powell said of his clientele.
at least four times a week, when he gets into bed or lies on his sofa, he is joined by one of these women -- for a platonic cuddling session.
Powell, 35, is among a growing number of professional snugglers, or "cuddlers" as some prefer, and one of 90 men employed by The Snuggle Bodies, a
Twin Cities-based company that offers nonsexual, in-home snuggling services -- at hourly and overnight rates.
A 'DREAM JOB'
"Ever since I heard that this job existed, I thought, 'That sounds like my dream job' because I'm an affectionate person," said Powell, who has been with the company part-time since June, and also works in the massage therapy field.
"This job is good for people who are compassionate, affectionate and like to relate to people."
It's also good for those who are not image-obsessed, according to Powell.
"It's body positive, because ... I'm teddy bear size and a lot of people have liked that," he said.
The cuddling industry got its start in the United States more than five years ago, with Travis Sigley's San Francisco-based business, Cuddle Therapy. Sigley, a former psychology student and onetime stripper, was frustrated by the restrictions against touch between therapists and their clients.
Snuggling services, which are still viewed with a great deal of skepticism, are legal because cuddlers do not engage in any fondling, kissing or sexual behavior. The company that Powell works for also requires cuddlers and clients wear a shirt and pants during appointments.
Interest in cuddling increased with the short-lived social meeting app Cuddlr, which launched in September. The free, location-based app -- which recently ran into logistical troubles and was shuttered -- allowed users to find people nearby to cuddle with.