Hugz & Cuddlez founder and host
Erez Benari (formerly Ben-Ari, and also known professionally as Aerez), is an former engineer, writer, journalist, author, artist and comedian living in Redmond, Washington, USA. Benari was born in Haifa, Israel, and immigrated to the United States in 2008 with his (now ex) wife Paula Benari. After moving here, the couple had their son Sol Benari, born in 2010 in Seattle. Erez’s career spans several decades and multiple occupations, but most of it has been in the high-tech sector, where he worked for some of the biggest and best-known companies in the world, including Intel, Microsoft and Nvidia. Starting as a young boy, Benari studied his 1st programming language in the 7th grade (age 12) and later focused more on hardware/IT/Networking.
Benari’s career also included teaching at several colleges and universities and having multiple TV and Radio appearances. Starting in 1998, he became a writer and built the 1st Hebrew-language user-friendly computer info and support site, which received wide acclaim and followship. As a writer, he later wrote for dozens of newspapers and magazines all over the world, as well as publishing 3 books and a video course about Microsoft’s products that he worked-on.
Starting in 2011, Benari has become a prolific comedian, performing and producing comedy shows in the Seattle area, featuring himself and numerous other up-and-coming comedians. Many of Benari’s productions have been highly successful, often selling-out venues.
In 2015, Benari has become a prolific artist. His fields of interest are miniatures; and especially miniature-books, which he makes and sells. Owners of Erez’s mini books include quite a few major celebrities such as Jim Gaffigan, Whitney Cummings and even Barack Obama, our former president. Benari also deals a lot with Steampunk-style artwork. All-in-all, he has made hundreds of pieces over the years, although they generally are not for sale.
Following his divorce from his wife in 2017-2018, Benari has adopted the polyamory way of life. He also discovered that his true passion is cuddling, and since then, has been creating and hosting social events focused on that. Erez’s cuddle-parties have made a big splash in the Puget Sound area, and the events have been highly popular, even during the COVID-19 restrictions that plagued our world. Benari is also a philanthropist, and donates regularly to non-profits that deal with polyamory and LGBTQ issues, as well as volunteer with numerous organizations (for example, Benari supports the Chosen Family Law Center, The Polyamory Foundation and The Church of All Worlds).