EXCLUSIVE: Controversial ‘orgasmic meditation’ class lauded by Gwyneth Paltrow REBRANDS as science-based practice with EEGs tracking ‘healing effects’ – despite ongoing FBI probe and Netflix doc that exposed dark side of sex therapy empire
- Nicole Daedone is rebranding her controversial wellness company, OneTaste, which became popular for promoting ‘orgasmic meditation’
- The San Francisco-based company was at one point reportedly making $12M a year before it came crashing down in 2018 amid accusations of sexual abuse
- OM retreats and classes had previously focused on pleasure – with promises of 15-minute female orgasms that could allegedly aid in sexual trauma recovery
- DailyMail.com attended Daedone’s first event in years in Culver City, California, where she said the focus is now on the science behind OM and its healing effects
The charismatic sex guru who gained a cult-like following over her controversial celebrity-endorsed ‘orgasmic meditation’ class, is making a comeback four years after her multi-million-dollar business collapsed following allegations of sex trafficking and sexual abuse.
Nicole Daedone was the ‘messianic’ female leader who in 2004 co-founded OneTaste, a San Francisco-based sexual wellness company specializing in the practice of OM, which promised to improve its clients’ sex life, help them to ‘reclaim their sexuality’ and even aid in recovery from sexual trauma.
The company lured in thousands of paying members with the promise of ‘changing the world’ through the practice which involves a half-naked woman having her clitoris ‘stroked’ for 15 minutes by a man, either her own partner or another paying customer.
Nicole Daedone is rebranding her controversial wellness company, OneTaste, which became popular for promoting ‘orgasmic meditation’ – four years after an FBI investigation saw her multi-million-dollar business come crashing down
Earlier this month, DailyMail.com attended a special live demonstration of Daedone’s popular OM technique, along with a 200 others at the spacious Playa Studios in Culver City, California
But in 2018, OneTaste became the subject of an FBI investigation amid claims from ex-customers who say they were left in debt after paying for expensive classes and former employees who say they were told to engage in sexual relations with potential clients to close sales.
Daedone, 55, had all but disappeared from public view since then, but the company’s somewhat checkered history was brought back into the spotlight with 2020 Netflix documentary, Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste.
And while the film states that the company is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation, OneTaste, incredibly, is now embarking on a relaunch.
DailyMail.com attended a special live demonstration of Daedone’s popular OM technique, along with a 200 others at the spacious Playa Studios in Culver City, California – historically known as a center for film and television production.
Cameras are trained on the central stage, yet given the nature of the ‘show’, it’s doubtful that Hollywood’s forefathers would have envisioned a performance quite like this.
Daedone illustrates the intimate hands-on techniques on her associate Rachel, who is currently lying naked on a raised table.
The scene is not for prudes but once the demonstration is over and the audience’s claps – and Rachel’s moans – subside, Daedone almost heaves a sigh of relief.
‘I was really nervous about the evening,’ she explains later. ‘I wasn’t sure if I was going to be welcomed.’
Daedone certainly had cause for concern. For while her company at one point was reportedly making $12million a year, with stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Khloe Kardashian extolling her work as a sex guru, her empire came crashing down amid accusations that she was little more than leader of a ‘sex cult’.
In 2018, an investigation by financial magazine Bloomberg Businessweek featured the testimony of former OneTaste members who accused the company of pushing them into ‘sexual servitude and five-figure debts’ – allegations denied by the company.
Last month, Daedone broke her silence, denying she ran a sex cult and revealed her plans to rebrand and ‘continue the work of getting OM into the world.’
Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste poster Netflix. Many joined the group to try to achieve the sexual fulfilment they had been unable to reach before, while others were recovering from trauma or looking for more meaningful connections
Orgasmic meditation involves a woman, naked from the waist down, having her clitoris ‘stroked’ for 15 minutes by a man, either her own partner or another paying customer. Pictured: a couple practice orgasmic meditation under the guidance of a British instructor in 2018
The company used to have several buildings in San Francisco, including a cafe, an events space and communal housing known as ‘OM houses’ where between 30-40 staff would live together. Pictured, one of the properties once used as OneTaste dormitories
This performance marks Daedone’s first LA event in four years, with plans for further one-day introductory OM courses in the US costing $149.
She also hopes to take her events to London next year, after previously successful trips to the UK.
‘The British people were so inscrutable at the beginning, that I had no idea how it was going, then suddenly, everyone in the room was crying’, Daedone said.
And it seems that despite the controversies, fans of OneTaste’s philosophies are still hungry for more, with her followers claiming it either saved their life or saved them from addiction.
The crowd, predominantly female and ranging in age from around 20 through to 70, features everyone from young, professional men and women to aging hippy types who wouldn’t have looked out of place at Woodstock.
Christoph Friedrich, a 42-year-old OM practitioner from Germany, admits: ‘I felt a little rusty coming back to an event after four years. But it feels like a second life and a second chance.’
Daedone herself acknowledges that mistakes were made in the past and to that end, OneTaste has gone through something of a retooling.
Whereas previously the emphasis had been placed on pleasure – with promises of 15-minute female orgasms and tales of lonely Silicon Valley nerds who through the practice of OM were suddenly equipped with the skills to satisfy beautiful, young women – the emphasis now is on the science behind OM and its purported healing powers.
During the event, Daedone demonstrated the intimate hands-on techniques on her associate Rachel on a raised table
The organization has incorporated a science arm, the Institute of Orgasmic Meditation, and at the end of the evening when Daedone demonstrates the OM techniques on Rachel, several members of the audience are fitted with electroencephalogram machines (EEGs) to research whether orgasmic meditation can even have a healing effect on mere observers.
The demonstration itself features Daedone intimately touching Rachel for 15 minutes, with Rachel’s physical and verbal responses captured on a giant screen to the left of the stage.
Christoph Friedrich, a 42-year-old OM practitioner from Germany says he believes the OneTaste’s teachings deserve a ‘second life and a second chance’
It’s very graphic and, certainly for the uninitiated, somewhat unsettling to watch, and at least partly explains why Daedone and OneTaste have been dogged by controversy.
As for the backlash she experienced, she says: ‘I realized I fundamentally wasn’t communicating what we were really doing. And so we’re really focused on the science, so that people can understand it in a different way.’
During the event, the audience is treated to a filmed presentation where a voiceover intones: ‘For depression, many have turned successfully to orgasmic meditation.’
Bob, a military veteran, talks movingly about going through post-traumatic stress disorder.
‘When you’re trying to bury all these emotions and not deal with it,’ he says, ‘you put yourself in a deep, dark rabbit hole. The tendency is to shut everybody out.’
Practicing OM means, he says, that ‘whatever traumatic experience you’ve had, you can overcome it.’
Vicky Aldana, a life coach from North Carolina, agrees.
Daedone explained that while emphasis had been previously placed on pleasure, the company is now focusing on the science behind OM and its purported healing powers
Vicky Aldana (left), a life coach from North Carolina and Kay Vogt, 70, were among those who attended the demonstration and could attest to OM’s alleged healing effects
‘I had a lot of trauma in my childhood where I was hit as a kid and so I kind of numbed myself and shut my body down,’ she says.
The problems surfaced years later through intimacy issues she was having with a boyfriend, but after eschewing medication prescribed by a doctor for ‘abnormally low testosterone levels’, she instead took a friend’s advice and attended an OM workshop.
‘I’d been partying a lot and doing a lot of drugs and drinking so much, so of course I was numb. But the more I OM-ed, the more I could just feel in my body.
‘I basically stopped drinking and I definitely don’t do drugs anymore and I found that this simple, weird practice actually helped me feel.
‘I’m so grateful to OM because otherwise, I’d be heading on the road to addiction.’
Like many of the OM practitioners present, Vicky looks far younger than her 31 years – suggesting that there might well be something to all these meditational orgasms after all.
It definitely seems to be true for Kay Vogt, a 70-year-old psychologist from California.
What is orgasmic meditation or ‘OM’?
Orgasmic meditation is a 15 minute partner practice that involves a woman removing her underwear and lying down on a ‘nest’ of pillows or another comfortable position.
The stroker, often a man, sits next to her on his own pillows and lightly and deliberately strokes her clitoris.
The stroker focuses solely on the upper-left-hand quadrant of the clitoris, the so-called ‘one o’clock’ position.
This continues for 15 minutes, until a timer goes off.
The aim is not necessarily to orgasm but simply to ‘feel’ the sensation as intensely as possible.
It is said to affect the same parts of the human brain as conventional meditation.
Six years ago, she moved to Palm Desert to ‘basically fade away and live out the rest of my years.’
‘When you’re a woman in your sixties you feel discarded, unimportant,’ she says, adding: ‘Practicing OM, ‘was like awakening my life force. A whole big part of me woke up at 64.’
Like many of the audience members, she watched the excoriating Netflix documentary where some followers accused the organization of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse.
But she concluded that while some people might have had unhappy experiences, ‘that was not my story. I have nothing but an it-saved-my-life story.’
Certainly, practitioners of orgasmic meditation speak of it with an almost evangelical zeal, which brings us back to Daedone, the organization’s charismatic leader.
Even dressed down in a floaty white dress and flat shoes she’s a compelling presence on stage – in turns wry, humbled and quietly passionate.
She is visibly moved as she notes her return to public life after four years in the wilderness and though the scoffs lightly at the ‘messianic’ label attributed to her in some quarters of the press, she admits that she approaches the subject of orgasmic meditation ‘religiously or spiritually’.
She talks of being ‘hit by the bomb called ‘canceled’ and of becoming ‘untouchable’, while Vogt cries in sympathy.
And while she fully admits that she’s a ‘wild woman’, Daedone rejects the picture that has built up of her over the past few years.
Bryn Freedman, 66, a TV producer and author who does consultancy work for OneTaste, is one of the friends who helped Daedone get back on her feet
‘The cult leader corrupted by money and power – you can determine for yourself, of course,’ she tells the audience, ‘but, that’s patently not true.’
Everyone, however, is clearly in her thrall and during her demonstration of the OM technique with Rachel, she encourages everyone to shout out the sensations they are feeling.
The audience immediately fires off various responses: ‘Thickness in my chest!’, says one person. ‘Throbbing in my head,’ shouts another, which – somewhat ironically, given Daedone’s previous protestations – does give the proceedings a somewhat cultish feel.
Bryn Freedman, 66, a TV producer and author who does consultancy work for OneTaste, is one of the friends who helped Daedone get back on her feet.
She admits: ‘My husband had seen all the articles and was like, ‘are you sure you want to work with these people?’ and I told him that I wouldn’t help an organization if I thought it was fishy or questionable.’
It is Freedman who introduces Daedone on stage, praising her resilience in the face of a very public downfall and remarking that her comeback has been a case of turning ‘poison into medicine’.
It remains to be seen, however, if the world is ready for its second dose.
Who is OneTaste founder Nicole Daedone?
Co-founder Nicole Daedone
Nicole Daedone hails from California and described Silicone Valley as her ‘home’ in a 2013 lecture.
Before focusing her attentions on orgasmic meditation, the author and entrepreneur, The San Francisco State University graduate founded the 111 Minna Gallery in the SoMa district.
She went on to study with teachers of yoga, Kabbalah, and Buddhist meditation.
It is thought Daedone was introduced to orgasmic meditation in the early 2000s by a Buddhist monk, who demonstrated the practice in a private session.
She founded OneTaste in 2004, packaging orgasmic meditation in a palatable format and by 2009 was on the cover of The New York Times’ Style section.
Daedone wrote a guide to orgasmic meditation, Slow Sex: the art and craft of the female orgasm, in 2012.
In 2017, the company made $12 million in revenue.
Vanity Fair named Daedone in its list of ‘Twelve Women Who Changed the Way We Look at Sex’ and around 900,000 people have viewed her Ted talk, entitled Orgasm, the Cure for Hunger in Western Woman.
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