We Have No Idea What to Say About Old City’s Hugging Therapist


Ronnie Polaneczky today brings news of Mirabai Galashan, a 47-year-old Greek woman who is giving out hugs as part of a performance art piece at Afif Gallery in Old City. And not, like, friendly, quick, three-pats-on-the-back hugging to signify mid-level affection. These are, judging by the picture gallery with the column, deep—albeit platonic, in a very mandatory way—intimate embraces of the kinds that basically exist only between mothers and their young children. Their favorite young children.

Friday was the opening night of “The Love Seat,” a “performance-art piece/public spiritual practice” in which she sits on the love seat, under two signs. One reads “Would you like to be held?” If chosen, Galashan will hold you. The other sign reads “No.” In which case, Galashan will sit quietly next to you.

By the end of the night, though, at least 100 gallerygoers had joined Galashan on the love seat. Most leaned their backs into her and hung their legs over the armrest as she tenderly wrapped her arms around them from behind and leaned her cheek against the top of their heads.

And then Ronnie goes there.

It only took me a minute to relax into Galashan, wearing a gauzy white sarong atop a white T-shirt and shorts. She looked modest, lovely and angelic. I slung my legs over the side of the love seat, and Galashan wrapped her soft arms around me, laying her hands atop mine. Her heart beat against the back of my neck; her breathing was a lullaby.

Within 30 seconds, I closed my eyes and slid into a floaty zone in which I was neither awake nor asleep. After five minutes, I sort of snapped to, refreshed.

It was incredible.

And, well, um, jeez. Clearly we’re not mature enough to deal with this. Let’s just move on.