Have you searched for any of these strange services or items?
Think you know what you can buy, rent or barter online? Think again. Here are seven strange services and items you may not have Googled before.
1. Invisible Boyfriend
Looking for a handsome beau to tell your friends about? Look no further. Invisible Boyfriend, a popular new online service, invents a boyfriend just for you so that you can make your girlfriends (or boyfriends) jealous and pacify your pestering family and friends. After signing up for the service, you can design a boyfriend (or girlfriend) to your particular specifications. Want a short guy with blond hair? A tall guy with green eyes? No problem. The app allows you to even specify his personality traits and age. And if that’s not enough, once you pay the $25 charge, your newly designed beau begins texting you. Who’s actually texting you, you ask? After placing your order, the company places a new job order on CrowdSource, a crowdsourcing platform that pays remote contractors to complete assigned tasks. Once a random contractor selects your task, he or she begins texting you. And if that’s not enough intimacy for you, the company has recently introduced two new features — handwritten notes and personalized gifts.
2. William Shatner’s Kidney Stone
We’ve all heard of people paying enormous amounts of money to rock stars and famous athletes for a lock of their hair or a jersey they’ve worn, but a kidney stone? That’s just what William Shatner (who played Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek TV series) did in 2006. Struck with an unbearable backache that brought him to his knees while filming on the set of Boston Legal, the actor was rushed to the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, he found himself on a gurney, screaming bloody murder, never envisioning that the pain he was experiencing might eventually provide a home for an impoverished person. But that’s just what happened. Shortly after Shatner was released from the hospital, GoldenPalace.com approached him and offered $15,000 for the kidney stone. Initially Shatner turned them down, arguing that his Star Trek tunics had sold for more than $100,000. Eventually, though, he agreed to a deal that included the surgical stint and string used to permit passage of the stone, which Shatner said was so large “you’d want to wear it on your finger.” The proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity, a Christian charity organization that builds houses for the poor. “This would be the first Habitat for Humanity house built out of stone,” joked Darren Julien, president of Los Angeles–based Julien’s Auctions.
Looking for a maternal role model for conversation, advice or a home-cooked meal? Sick of your actual mother judging your life choices, constantly comparing you to your brother / sister, bothering you with her relentless advice? Look no further. For a price (rates range from $20 to $140 per hour), Need a Mom, a Brooklyn-based service, will provide you with just that. “It’s the mother without the baggage,” founder Nina Keneally told Today. “Empathy and listening to people come to me naturally, and I really enjoy young adults.” And if you think your new, rented mother will only chat with you, you may be surprised. According to the company’s website, your rented parental unit will watch a movie with you, iron your clothes, review your résumé, edit documents, even bake you a pie. With a service this good, who needs a biological mother?
4. Line Standing
If you live in the Washington, DC, area and you’re tired of standing in line for high-demand hearings and events on Capitol Hill, Linestanding.com will stand in line for you. Aimed primarily at lobbyists and interest groups looking to secure tickets for congressional hearings, the concierge service employs line standers to wait at a designated location until they are able to rendezvous with the attendee. Though line standers typically earn from $10 to $15 an hour, the rates vary depending on the particular event. According to DCINNO, for some high-profile events, the company employs 30 line standers working in shifts, earning up to $36 per hour (with a two-hour minimum).
5. Fingernail Clippings from a Serial Killer
It’s quite normal to have a morbid curiosity about murder, but purchasing a serial killer’s fingernail clippings is another matter entirely. Taking advantage of the booming murderabilia industry, “Tool Box Killer” Roy Norris (who went on a killing spree in 1979 with Lawrence Bittaker, kidnapping, raping, torturing and murdering five young women over five months in California) reportedly sold his fingernail clippings on eBay for the low price of $9.99. Though eBay eventually banned the sale of murderabilia, in recent years sites like MurderAuction.com have been surfacing, offering items such as John Wayne Gacy’s artwork and locks of Charles Manson’s hair. When asked if he found it morbid that someone would want his nail clippings as a souvenir, Norris reportedly said he had no objection, assuming the clippings didn’t wind up in the hands of a Haitian voodoo priest.
Lonely? Looking for someone to cuddle with? Look no further. Cuddle Comfort is a website devoted to people who are looking for a genuine, platonic cuddle. After signing up, users view a list of potential cuddle buddies. If a user sees someone they like, they can message the person to request a snuggle. The user can even specify the particular age, gender and ethnicity of the cuddler. If the snuggle partner agrees, a match is made, and the two users can arrange a cuddle session. As you might expect, after users are done cuddling, if they were impressed with the cuddler’s performance, they can choose to include the cuddler in their favorites list. There’s even a discussion forum where users can share their experiences, suggest what kind of clothing to wear when cuddling, even request a late-night chat. According to the website, the service started in 2011 with the goal of “bringing physical affection to more people without the romantic prerequisites.” Cuddle Comfort’s aim is to “create friendships based on cuddling that are pressure free and with no expectation of something more.” More than 65,000 people currently use the free service.
If you despise going to the movies alone, RentAFriend, a service that allows users to rent companions for special events, may be for you. After signing up (and paying the $24.95 membership fee), users create a profile, listing their interests. Though users can dictate the event or meeting, the potential friend-for-hire determines the wage (some friends charge a whopping $30 an hour to share a pizza or attend a concert). The founder of RentAFriend, Scott Rosenbaum, told ABC News he created the service after noticing the increasing popularity of such services in Japan and China. “Over there,” he said, “it seemed like it’s important to have a full family structure. When people need family members for special occasions, like fathers and uncles for weddings and graduations, they can rent friends to fill the gap.” Though the idea of such a company may seem silly to many, with over 620,000 available friends for rent, it’s difficult to dismiss the service as simply a gimmick.