Londoners in Need of a Hug Attend Cuddle Workshops

It was only a few months ago that we told you about this professional cuddler in New York who provides snuggles and cuddles for a fee. Now we’ve found out about an entire workshop that’s dedicated to the act of cuddling, this time in London. Organized by 36-year-old Anna Nathan and 42-year-old Neil Urquhart, the workshop takes place twice a month on Sundays and costs £29 (about $46). Participants at the cuddle workshop get to do just that – hold each other.

But it’s not just ‘ready-set-cuddle’ from beginning to end. There’s actually a process that’s followed during the four-hour sessions, for the participants to get acquainted before they can hold each other in full-on cuddles. And of course, there are rules as well. According to Anna, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.” Some of the other rules include keeping a layer of clothing on at all times, placing your sexual energy aside, and the most important – no kissing. Attendants at the cuddle workshop come from various walks of life – ranging from a divorced 30-something badly in need of a hug, to a retired and lonely person. The room in which the classes are held is quite cozy, with green and red cushions scattered on the floor. However, the temperature is mostly cool, perhaps to encourage participants to keep their clothes on at all times.

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24K Gold Pills Will Make Luxury Addicts Poop Gold

Created back in 2005 by by late New York artist Tobi Wong in collaboration with Ken Courtney, these swallowable 24G gold pills are said to turn your innermost parts into chambers of wealth”.

Gold Pills were originally launched by Wong and Courtney as part of their ‘Indulgence’ line – an art project that comments on society’s ‘ever-expanding market of luxury items’, but in the last seven years, they’ve become quite the hit with luxury addicts, and their price has skyrocketed to $425. That’s probably just chump change for rich kids looking for new ideas to take their already decadent lifestyles to new heights, so it’s no wonder Citizen:Citizen, the webstore selling the pills states that they are ‘temporarily unavailable’. It’s not clear if for the above-mentioned price you get one or three gold pills, but I bet some of the people who bought them actually swallowed them to see if it makes their poop glitter. Either that or they are really big fans of Tywin Lannister.

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Horses Inside Out – Horse Anatomy Painted on Live Horses

English champion rider Gillian Higgins has devised a novel way to teach horse anatomy to veterinary students, riders and caretakers – she takes up to four hours to paint the animal’s skeletal and muscular systems on live horses, using water-based hypoallergenic paints.

Horse anatomy is pretty tricky, considering students have to understand how the 205 bones and 700 muscles in its body make this beautiful animal work like a well-oiled machine. But instead of boring them with sketches and complicated diagrams, Gillian Higgins uses her artistic skills to paint the anatomical systems on actual horses. “Painting the skeleton and musculature on the side of the horse really helps to bring the subject to life, she told the Daily Mail. “You can discover how to get the best out of your horse by seeing exactly what happens as it moves.” The English horse-ring champion and sports remedial therapist got the idea for “Horses Inside Out” back in 2006 after completing a degree in equine business management. She understood why many riders and trainers were struggling to learn all those bones and muscles with incredibly long names, and started thinking about a way to better make them understand how the horse works.

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Atomic Fallout Burger Is So Hot You Need Gloves to Eat It

Living up to its name, the Atomic Fallout burger is so hot that owners of the Atomic Burger restaurant, in Bristol, England, require daredevils to sign a waiver and wear protective gloves so not to burn their hands.

Eating a burger is usually a pleasurable experience, but chowing down on the Atomic Fallout burger is a painful challenge. According to restaurant owner Martin Bunce, the sauce in the mouth-burning fast food treat contains “a variety of chillies including the Ghost Chilli and the Scotch Bonnet. But what gives the sauce a real kick is the Ghost Chilli extract which registers at 4.2 million Scoville units.” Considering Tabasco sauce is ranked at just 5000 units on the Scoville scale, you can understand why some people are referring to the Atomic Fallout as the hottest burger in the world. Apart from the stomach melting Ghost Chilli extract, chefs at the Atomic Burger, in Bristol, also use a variety of other chillies, including the tiny but ultra-hot Scotch Bonnet.

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Anamorphic Illusion Master Likes to Play with Our Minds

Something about the image below is not what it seems, but you probably guessed that already. Why else would such a common looking photo be posted on a site like this, right? But can you guess what’s strange about it?

These are not the first time I post anamorphic illusions on OC, but I’m pretty sure they are the most realistic yet. The trick is actually very simple: YouTube artist Brusspup skews high resolution photos of ordinary objects, then films them from just the right angle to make them look incredibly realistic. So real, in fact, that even after he reveals the illusion, you still can’t wrap your head around how on Earth he makes seem look so real. If you just can’t believe your eyes, Brusspup was kind enough to provide the high-res images of the images in his video, so you can try out the trick for yourself. The slat-lined template must be printed on a transparency sheet and, Brusspup reminds us, if you’re printing on an ink jet, you must use the transparencies that are made specifically for ink jet printers. Also, don’t mess around with the size settings, or you’ll probably end up with an optical illusion that is more baffling than it’s supposed to be.

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Eitaro – Japan’s Only Guy-sha

Three years ago, Eitaro lost his mother, a dedicated geisha, to cancer. Ever since then, he and his sister have been carrying on her legacy, running a geisha house and overseeing a group of six other geishas.

26-year-old Eitaro first performed as a female dancer at age 10, at one of his mother’s geisha parties. He started taking dance lessons at the age of 8 and when he was just 11-years-old, he performed at Japan’s national theater. He was clearly a natural geisha, and a trivial thing like gender wasn’t going to stop him from following his calling.  Eitaro’s mother, a skilled and charismatic geisha, dedicate her life to reviving Tokyo’s geisha culture, after the last geisha house had closed its doors during the 1980’s Japanese real estate bubble. As a boy, Eitaro grew up watching her perform, and just like his sister, Maika, he was fascinated by her elegance. But, three years ago, they lost their mother to cancer, and it became their responsibility to carry on her legacy. Now, Eitaro is the master of an ‘okiya,’ a geisha house in Tokyo’s Omori port district, and together with his sister and a groups of six other geishas, entertain customers at geisha parties.

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Ukrainian Artist Creates Incredibly Detailed Artworks from Sand and Seashells

Svetlana Ivanchenko is a talented Ukrainian artist who uses overlooked natural materials like sand, seashells, quartz, tree roots and tree bark to create wonderful mosaics that look almost painted by hand.

Born and raised in Yalta, on the shores of the Black Sea, Ivanchenko was always fascinated by the abundance of natural materials that surrounded her. She studied at the Crimean Art School, under the supervision of renowned artist Sergei Bokaeva, and later graduated from the Glukhivskiy Pedagogical Institute. The artist currently based in the city of Dnepropetrovsk uses a variety of sand, shells, quartz and tree parts to create amazing works of art inspired by her place of birth and the warmth of the female body. It’s hard to believe, but every little piece of material used to create the artworks is placed by hand, and no coloring other than that of the composing elements is used. As Pinar from My Modern Metropolis notes, Svetlana “merges the various textures and colors brilliantly, making it difficult to imagine the frames being made of anything else.” Her natural masterpieces have been exhibited in international galleries, and many of them reside in the private collections of connaisseurs in Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Estonia and the Dominican Republic.

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Polish Artist Builds Mind-Blowing Matchstick Church Models

Children are generally not permitted to play with matchsticks, but nothing could keep Wieslaw Laszkeiwick away from the tiny sticks of wood. Ever since he was a child, building models out of matchsticks has been more than a pastime for the self-taught master. He treats the activity like a prayer. And what he likes to build most are houses of prayer. Now 58 years old, this Polish folk artist works with hundreds of thousands of matches, pieces of cardboard and microscopic slides for several months at a time, creating beautiful replicas of churches around the world.

Laszkeiwick lives in a wooden house with his son, where one of the rooms is used as a workshop. It’s in this room that he spent over 40 years creating detailed structures using matches. One of Laszkeiwick’s most notable works was a replica of the 17th century monument, the Church of St. Nicholas in Zamosc. The completed structure stood almost 5 feet tall and was intended to be a gift to Pope Benedict XVI. What pleased him so much about the St. Nicholas church was its spherical dome. To create the replica, he used almost half a million matchsticks bound on to matching paper. After the building was complete, he covered it with several coats of varnish and special glue that prevents the matches from warping after they are attached. He also mounted a bulb inside to illuminate the intricate stained glass windows, made from hundreds of pieces of glass. Elements such as doors and gates were carved, and a he fashioned a bell out of specially prepared matches. It took him a whole year to complete the project.

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Coffee Won’t Keep You Awake at Tokyo’s Hypnosis Cafe Colors

Apart from a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, the menu at the Tokyo Hypnosis Cafe Colors, in Shinjuku Golden Gai, also features some offbeat items, such as Trauma Erasure or Past Life Regression.

Tokyo is known for its unique cafes, many of which have been featured on Oddity Central (Cuddle Cafe, Vampire Cafe, Hammock Cafe, etc.), and today I’m thrilled to add another one to our growing collection – the Tokyo Hypnosis Cafe Colors. As the name suggests, this intriguing venue uses the power of hypnosis to attract customers (and maybe trick them into coming back). Originally opened in the city of Sapporo, the hypnosis cafe moved to the Shinjuku district, in Japan’s capital city, where quirky establishments are becoming increasingly popular. Numbering just eight sits, all at the bar, the Hypnosis Cafe Colors offers visitors the chance to try out a number of hypnosis techniques, including reconnecting with your inner child, quit smoking suggestion, or trauma erasure. Simple hypnosis is performed by an expert who also plays the role of bartender and magician, and is basically free, but special techniques cost between ¥1000 ($12) and ¥50000 ($600).

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Sharp Music at New York’s Annual Musical Saw Festival

Who would have thought that an ordinary carpenter’s handsaw could be used to produce music? But apparently it can, and has been for the past 300 hundred years. And in order to commemorate this bizarre yet unique tradition, the NYC Musical Saw Festival is held in July of every year, in Astoria (Queens), New York City. Ever since the festival was established by founder and director Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz in 2003, musical saw players from all over New York and the world have come together to preserve and honor this rare form of music. In fact, for saw players in far-flung countries like Germany, Sweden, India, China and Japan, Astoria has become a pilgrimage place of sorts. Every year, the sawist who travels the greatest distance in order to attend is awarded the title of ‘guest of honor’.

At the Musical Saw Festival, the players socialize and hear each other play. There are solo performances and jam sessions as well. They even take the opportunity to educate each other about the different types of saws and various techniques of playing. Overall, the atmosphere is said to be rather friendly and encouraging. But the festival is not limited to saw players. The event is open to the public, so people are welcome to come in and learn about the musical saw, or just enjoy a concert or two. An art exhibit and a workshop are also part of the festival.

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Japanese Rent-a-Boyfriend Service Caters to Lonely Women in Need of Cuddling

Yes, Japanese women get lonely too, but luckily for them, there’s Soine-ya Prime, a dispatch service where women can hire a handsome young man to lay with her in bed for a night. Believe it or not there’s nothing sexual about it.

Two months ago, we posted about Tokyo’s popular Cuddle Cafe, where everyone could lay down next to a pretty girl for as little as $40. The joint had just opened in September, but it had such success that a second venue was recently inaugurated. But what about lonely women looking for attractive guys to cuddle up to? Sometimes you just want to crawl into bed and feel someone’s arms around you, without any other implications. But when you’re single that can be tough. Well, for some women, the need of a warm body next to them at night is so bad they’re willing to pay a total stranger. Created in 2011, Soine-ya Prime caters to the needs of Japanese lonely women by dispatching attractive men to sleep in their beds, without engaging in any kind of sexual activities. Clients are not allowed to kiss the men, touch them in any inappropriate ways or contact them without permission from the company. They’re to be used as pleasant company and nothing more.

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Eduardo Relero’s Mind-Blowing Optical Illusions

Argentinian street artist Eduardo Relero has the special talent of turning something as dull as pavements into incredible three-dimensional artworks that put people in danger of walking into lampposts starring at them.

48-year-old Eduardo Relero, who lives in Madrid, Spain, will spend up to two weeks working on one of his amazing 3D murals, which when viewed from the perfect angle look to be rising up from the pavement or sinking deeper into it. The talented artist began creating his beautiful artworks in 1990, on the streets of Rome, and has since then gone on to create breathtaking murals in Germany, France, Spain and America. “I realized that by taking my art out in the public, to festivals, theaters and events, I would be free to make drawings more to my liking, ” the artist says, adding that it’s also a great way of getting ideas across to big groups of people. With themes ranging from flying lions, giant waterfalls and gaping craters to giant feet sticking out of gaping holes in the ground and ancient figures lying in tombs that are actually just the tops of public benches, Relero seems to be one of those artists that never run out of ideas.

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Claw-Using Hairdresser Is a Real-Life Edward Scissorhands

If Edward Scissorhands could have tools for hands, why can’t real-life hairdressers? Well, there is this particular hairdresser from Fort Myers, Florida, who does have claw-hands. Of course, in his case, the claws are, detachable, but impressive, nonetheless. Sicilian-born Valentino LoSauro has claw-like finger extensions made from hard plastic and responsive elastic. Inside each claw, a razor-sharp stainless steel blade is inserted. This way, all that Valentino needs to do is run his hand through a customer’s hair and voila, a zigzag look is created. This device, he claims, can be used to cut hair twice as fast as normal shears. He’s already sold about 30,000 of his clever inventions, Clawz, as he calls them.

Valentino had been in the hairdressing business for 25 years before it got too boring for him. He was just about ready to hang up his shears when the idea for Clawz came to him. He realized that scissors cut at straight angles and blades help to create a layered look. But there was nothing to create zigzag forms. That’s how he dreamed up his unique invention. The concept behind Clawz is that just like beating an egg makes it fluffy, a zigzag cut gives hair a fluffy and vibrant appearance. It’s just another tool in a hairdresser’s kit, according to Valentino, and it won’t replace scissors or blades. “It closes the loop,” he says. The hard plastic finger extensions that encase the small stainless steel blades were designed by an engineer he hired. But the idea itself came to him by watching a classical guitarist with picks at the end of each finger while playing the instrument. A keyboard player himself, he treats the use of Clawz as nothing short of a performance, combining a light-fingered touch with his styling. “So the Clawz were born as a simple idea to bring musicality to hairstyling,” he says. “When I cut hair I use methods I call ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and ‘Zap’.” While the first prototype of Clawz was launched in 2001, it took him about two more years to become proficient in their use. But now, he can cut hair faster than using scissors.

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Coffin Therapy Helps Ukrainians Get Used to the Afterlife

Enterprising coffin maker Stepan Piryanyk, from the Ukraine, is offering living people the chance to lay down in one of his comfortable coffins in order to get used to the afterlife. After all, death is always so sudden, so why not take some time to get used to it…

Lying down in a coffin as therapy is not unheard of. Just a week a go we posted an article about a special Chinese psychotherapy clinic where patients lay down in a coffin and have the lid shut over them, in order to experience death and rebirth. A Taiwanese professor also buries his students alive in a coffin in the floor of his classroom, to make them appreciate every second of their lives. But Stepan Piryanyk, from the Ukrainian town of Truskavets, has found a new way to use his spooky wooden boxes as a form of therapy. The owner of a large coffin-making business, Stepan decided it would be a good idea to set up a special room where people could just lay down in one of his comfortable coffins, and experience being dead. Ironically enough, some people actually took him up on his creepy offer and said it was a very relaxing experience.

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German Artist Creates Art from Chaotic Splotches of Tea, Coffee and Juice

Stains of coffee and fruit juice are dreaded by most people, but German artist Angela Mercedes Donna Otto actually uses them as the basis for her creative artworks. She randomly pours colored drinks on paper canvases and spends hours contemplating the splotches, looking for familiar shapes.

At the base of Angela Mercedes Donna Otto’s art is “apophenia”, a term used by psychologists to describe the pursuit of the human mind to construct meaning, order and forms even from chaotic structures (e.g. seeing faces and shapes in clouds). She starts the creative process by making random splotches of coffee, tea and various fruit juices on a paper canvas, to create all kinds of chaotic patterns. Then, she spends hours on end in her studio, contemplating the stains and using her imagination to identify meaningful patterns and shapes. Finally, the motifs she finds in the visually stimulant material are extracted from the patterns by drawing with colored ink. Though they are carefully worked out in detail her pictures provide a wide range of interpretation, different approaches and scope to “see more”.

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