Travis Sigley relaxes on his bed in his home in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco. Travis, 23, worked as a stripper for two years and during his time in the sex industry, he realized how much people craved non-sexual physical encounters. "I would have clients take me into the back room and want to just cuddle and talk for, like, 20-30 minutes and this would happen consistently--enough to the point where I was, like, 'OK, I need to make a business out of this.'" He has since started a cuddle therapy business, believing that modern society has a need for non-sexual touch. "I completely cut the sex industry out of it," he said. "I wanted it to be something in and of itself."
Travis holds one of his favorite outfits--a tutu "cock-stume." "Nudity is not a sexual thing for me," he says. "It's just a form of me being myself." "I think it's a really positive way to exist. The easiest way I can do it societally is to be half-naked, but that's OK for me." "I'm certainly a sexual human being, but it's not the driving force in me."
Travis finds a lot of his clients in random situations. "You meet people everywhere. I never have an intention or an agenda when I'm approaching people. But, if it turns out, when they start talking about themselves, and I see something I can help and they ask about what I do and they are really intrigued by it, I can offer my services up."
Cuddlers on a couch during a group cuddle therapy session.
Philip Coquet (Below, Right), cuddles with a fellow cuddle-therapy client. Coquet works as an erotic masseuse. "This is giving me an opportunity to connect to my clients in a different way," he says, noting that he might even offer it as a non-sexual version of his work. "I believe it could change the world--if people just touched without any fear, without any gain without any selfishness--without any encroaching on someone else."
Cuddle therapy clients wrestle at a group therapy lesson in a live/work space in San Francisco's SoMa district.
At a group session, clients will cuddle, massage each other or--if they are not comfortable enough for touch--just talk.
"I really want to see a significant culture shift around being able to just connect with people," says Travis.
During a group session, Travis will introduce the group to non-sexual touch through a series of exercises. The group will touch each other and then talk about how they feel about a letting a stranger inside their safe space.
Travis on cuddle therapy: "It's about getting people more comfortable with themselves and comfortable in relation to other people and to know how to hold intimate and non-sexual loving space with one-another. And to just know how to be more relaxed and more comfortable in your own skin so you can share yourself in a more real, genuine way."
To contact Travis about cuddle therapy, email him at email@example.com.