On one hand, I absolutely support the concept behind this. Yes, I think women’s sexuality holds strange and bewlidering untapped spiritual potentiality. I also think regular sexual activity is just good for a person’s mental and physical health in general. On the other hand, these people are charging fucktons of money for something that’s essentially free. Capitalism and spirituality do not mix. I must confess that the hyper sales-y climate described here is well beyond wretch inducing. Money ruins everything, doesn’t it? Even ritualistic masturbation circles you ask? Yep, even that. (from Bloomberg):
“When Michal got married in August 2015, her family and longtime friends didn’t attend. The woman who walked her down the aisle, the dozens of beaming onlookers, her soon-to-be husband—all were people she’d met in the preceding 10 months. Wearing a loose, casual dress borrowed from one of her new friends, Michal spent the ceremony in a daze.
She knew she didn’t want to get married like this, in the living room of a rented San Francisco house without her family’s support, yet she felt compelled to do it. That uneasy feeling could apply to most of her experiences in OneTaste.
OneTaste is a sexuality-focused wellness education company based in the Bay Area. It’s best known for classes on “orgasmic meditation,” a trademarked procedure that typically involves a man using a gloved, lubricated fingertip to stroke a woman’s clitoris for 15 minutes. For Michal, like those at her wedding, OneTaste was much more than a series of workshops. It was a company that had, in less than a year, gained sway over every aspect of her life.
Since taking her first class, Michal had started working on OneTaste’s sales staff and living in a communal house in Brooklyn with her co-workers. Seven days a week, they gathered for multiple rounds of orgasmic meditation, or OM. (They pronounce it “ohm.”) They spent hours calling and texting people who’d come to a OneTaste event, trying to sell seats for the next, more expensive classes. The company-hosted evening OM circles in Manhattan sometimes held 30 or more pairs of strokers and strokees in one room, the fully clothed men concentrating on their moving fingertips while the women, naked from the waist down, moaned, wailed, and sighed. Afterward, Michal and her co-workers would run that night’s OneTaste event, where they set up chairs, jogged the microphone over to attendees, and chatted up more sales leads. It was exhausting.
Michal had been drawn to OneTaste because she felt unfulfilled sexually and in other parts of her personal life. The group seemed full of glowing, attractive people confident they could feel profound sexual pleasure whenever they wanted. She believed her new life would bring her closer to the center of OneTaste, where those who were experts in OM—especially the company’s co-founder, Nicole Daedone—seemed to hold the key to sexual and spiritual enlightenment.
In OneTaste, Michal was constantly surrounded by people who were her colleagues, roommates, sexual partners, and, suddenly, closest friends. She was also $20,000 in debt from buying its classes. She was married during a two-week, $36,000-a-person retreat called the Nicole Daedone Intensive. By the time she and her husband left OneTaste a few months later, they’d spent more than $150,000. “The deeper I went, the more courses I did, the more I worked for them, the closer I got to Nicole—I knew I was doing something that later would be very difficult to unravel,” she says. “I knew I was losing control. In OneTaste, I’d done that again and again and again.”
Michal’s story is far from unique among those who venture deeper into the organization, though it’s almost unknown to the outside world. OneTaste pitches itself to the public as a fast-growing company teaching connection and wellness to an increasingly mainstream audience. But many who’ve become involved in the upper echelons describe an organization that they found ran on predatory sales and pushed members to ignore their financial, emotional, and physical boundaries in ways that left them feeling traumatized. Even given the recent flurry of stories about groups known for fringe sexual activity—Nxivm, whose founder, Keith Raniere, is awaiting trial in New York along with his alleged deputy, actress Allison Mack; Rajneeshpuram, the community featured in Netflix’s Wild Wild Country—OneTaste stands out for its conventional appeal to wellness.
Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed 16 former OneTaste staffers and community members, some involved as recently as last year. Most spoke anonymously because they signed nondisclosure agreements or fear retribution. Some, including Michal, asked to withhold their last names because they don’t want to be publicly associated with the company.”
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