HOLMBERG: Will professional cuddling catch on in the old Capital of the Confederacy?

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Mary Tucker raises goats at her hideaway home in suburban Chesterfield County, which is where I first interviewed her several years ago.  She uses them to make boutique goat-milk soaps and other skin care products.

She’s also a performance artist.

And now, Mary Tucker wants to be a professional cuddler here in the Richmond area. She believes she was born to hug  and wants to open a cuddle salon – “The Holding Company“ – in a town that in previous generations has been somewhat resistant to embracing the unusual.

The need to hold and be held is  real and pressing, she told me as we prepared to cuddle Thursday evening to demonstrate the therapy for our viewers.

“We are offering people a very basic human need, which is physical touch. It is closeness and comfort, which this day and age we’re getting less and less of. Rather than having phone calls, we send text messages. Rather than going to visit with people, we send emails.”

People have a crushing need to hold and be held, and having a cat or dog may not be enough.

Japan saw its first “cuddle café” two years ago.

The Cuddle Up To Me salon in Portland, Oregon has been smothered in business.

Mary believes Richmond is hip enough to reach out to this new industry, one that her research indicates doesn’t require any special permitting, but does demand cuddlers and cuddlees to be completely upfront.

“These are not sexual services in any way,” Mary emphasized. Her planned salon, like the successful ones, will be video-surveilled to keep hanky-panky from occurring. “You couldn’t touch anywhere that a modest two-piece would cover.  Also no kissing and the lowest level of acceptable clothing would be a sleeveless shirt and fingertip-length shorts.”

Cuddles cost $1 a minute, $60  an hour. She’s willing to talk, cuddle movie nights and even sleepovers.

Mary’s boyfriend, also a performance artist, is all about her project and plans to be a cuddler too at “The Holding Company.”  He gave me a big hug as I arrived for my cuddling demonstration.

Watch my video report of my hour of cuddling to see what it’s like.

You can find out more about cuddling and her business, here. 


  • Allie

    So moxie labouche goes from goat farming to burlesque to professional cuddling. Didn’t she have a crowd funding campaign last year to keep her business afloat? And isn’t she putting on shows at centerstage? Once again another cash grab for Mary

  • G W

    Two items:
    1) how does she have goats in CC and the family with the pig gets in trouble?
    2) Cuddling is going to be a vector for diseases and parasites! Can you think off all the things that can go wrong? Lice, scabies, MRSA, Flu, etc.

  • Allie

    Anyone in the rva who knows her, she a character. And that’s not a complement.

    Mary Tucker is the worst. Consistently has her hands out. Whether it be her goat farm (in a residential neighborhood. Yes that needs to be reported to the county), her burlesque shows in the very pricey CenterStage and Strangeways brewery and now professional cuddling.

    For someone claiming to be a entrepreneur, why are you in need of crowd funding constantly? That is a red flag.

    Donate the money for this creepy garbage to real individuals who are in true need or businesses that can bring something to the community. Not to a obvious flake on top of a complete stranger for all of richmond to see.

      • Samuel

        Yep, “Allie” still needs a hug… What a sad existence you must lead that you feel the need to troll Miss Tucker. You are the cancer of society that tells people “no” and “why” when they have a perfectly fine idea that in no way whatsoever impacts you. If she fails, at least she tried. When is the last time you put yourself out there and tried to create something positive for the people? You don’t need to donate, you don’t need to protect us, you don’t need to be a part of this conversation.
        Now, how about that hug?

    • Steve

      You seem not to have all your information. Her farm has been in that location for well over a century. It also used to be larger, much larger. Portions of the farm was sold to developers by previous families. So, it is zoned for agriculture.

      Her farm had which is equivalent a crop failure. Which, you can ask any farmer, is very difficult to get out of.

      The shows at “the very pricey” CenterStage and Strangeways brewery are successful and SELF SUSTAINING. If not, then the shows would close under their failure.

      You also seem to be at a loss on the definition of entrepreneur.
      Here is the actual definition of entrepreneur. Which she actually fits the description. Starting a cuddling salon is risky, but seeking help in starting it, is the smartest way to do it.

      The crowd funding for the farm was an actual loan, not “donating”. Her Indygogo campaign is also not straight donating. You do get something back for it. I’m sure you had missed over it, but she will not be the only one working at the salon. There has been a lot of interest in becoming a Cuddler. Look at ANY of the social media plugs and you will see there are other people out there who want to cuddle and be cuddled. So, it is not just Mary who would benefit. Just like with her burlesque shows. Did you know at the Strangeways shows there is a dedicated spot for new performers? Women (and men) who had just taken the Boom Boom Basics class and want to take it further, have a spot where they can come out a get back on stage after their recital and yes, it a paying gig.

      So “Allie”, you seem to be speaking out of spite and nothing more. You shouldn’t consider yourself a pillar of the community, if you spout hate like that. I know everyone is “entitled” to their own opinions, but you seem to forget a lesson that was taught in grade school: if you do not have anything nice to say, then to do not say anything at all.

      • Allie

        That’s nice. Keep defending the con. Keep the carny going. But anyone who really knows Mary Tucker “aka Moxie Labouche” knows what type of person she truly is. She fits the definition of weirdo. And anyone within the arts scene knows, she all about the attention. And once again, she’s getting it. Am I wrong for calling out what everyone else is saying? Mabye, mabye not. But shouldn’t the viewers have the right to know they are potentially funding someone who has the means and capabilities? You said it yourself. Her shows are self-sustaining. So why isn’t she self-sustaining her cuddling?

        And where are the safety precautions? MRSA, Flu, lice, licensing? Yes this is a relatively new thing that emerged but to me, like everyone else thinks this is just a few steps below selling yourself and very creepy. Have you not seen the facebook comments? Congratulations Mary. You officially showed the rva and potentially the world just how low you sunk. But whatever you say “Steve”. This pillar of the community will donate their money to a worthy cause and not to a grown divorcee with issues. Have a nice day.

    • Angela

      Amen. She’s either graveling for sponsors to pay for her poor quality burlesque shows, or begging for money to keep her neglected goat farm thriving.
      And if you are seriously thinking about helping fund this…is at $60 per hour cuddling business even going to make it a month in Richmond? Are people really going to pay that much to cuddle with a complete stranger?

  • John

    Hey ponytail, be honest, did you get wood. A gentleman won’t and a man will, I think I saw some sweat beads on Mary, you dog. Hoot hoot

  • informed cynic

    The young woman’s face is so offensive I am unsure if I would be able to “relax” and cuddle and the laying on top cuddling seems a little more than suspect. Hugging is one thing what this video reflects seems to be another. Super sketch at best. Also if she wants to be lucrative she may want to employ some more attractive “cuddlers”

  • Donna Pirnat

    You may be interested to learn more about cuddling. http://www.cuddleuptome.com Samantha Hess is a very professional and good-hearted young woman. Whatever issues you may have with Ms. Tucker, I would invite you to keep your mind open to the concept of professional cuddling itself. There are many, many people in our country who have not had platonic physical affection in years. Perhaps you are luckier than they are; I’m glad for you. But lack of physical connection to others translates into mental and physical health issues; that is something that research has been showing over and over in a variety of studies. We have some very narrow and repressive ideas in this country about morality, and they do not always serve our health to its best benefit. Please, before you make mean comments, consider the good this could do, and is doing, in the world. My business will open in Fredericksburg this coming year. Send me your unhugged. My arms are open. My motives are pure. And I’m holding my head high. Love and light to you and yours. Donna Pirnat, EmbracePositiveTouch.com

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