Netflix took the initiative to take us to one of them: The Orgasm Industry: The Story of OneTastea company founded in the mecca of start-ups, tech gurus and the land of innovation that is Silicon Valley, which promised ” spiritual enlightenment and community through 15 minute female orgasms“. However, what started out as just an idea centered around empowering women through sexuality has morphed into a bizarre cult that the platform unravels in a revealing documentary.
The Orgasm Industry: The Story of OneTaste continues the trend of baring the dirty laundry of modern gurus. Just like The Dropout on Disney+ which told the disappointment of Elizabeth Holmes (played by Amanda Seyfried) or the ambitious decline of the founder of WeWork in WeCrashed on Apple TV+ (with Jared Leto) – both highly recommended, by the way -, this Netflix documentary delves into the history of an idea. A person who aspired to make it big in the wellness world, but ended up in a quagmire, disappearing from the media radar and being investigated by the FBI over sex trafficking allegations.
OneTaste burst onto the scene in San Francisco, California at the turn of the century with a charismatic founder named Nicole Daedone. His TED-like talks have been a hit on YouTube, generating conversation and curiosity by leaps and bounds. She rose through the ranks of Silicon Valley start-ups thanks to her eloquence and an idea centered on what she called the ” orgasmic meditation“, better known by the acronym ” OM (another perfect marketing ploy). Specifically, it is a technique focused on touching the woman’s clitoris, with specific movements and for 15 minutes, until orgasm is reached. But beyond the technique, what Nicole initially proposed was the empowerment of female sexuality, thus attracting thousands of followers. Whether it’s women seeking to be more confident in their bodies and sexuality or men suffering from heartbreak or women’s issues.
The business grew so big that it held classes, workshops, and even offered an annual membership that cost around $60,000 a year. They even had a special program for those who wanted to become masters of the technique. Obviously, with lots of face-to-face practice, with demonstrations that literally consisted of placing a half-naked woman on a stretcher, exposing her genitals to the audience, while an OM master practiced the technique on she. The rise of OneTaste has caught the attention of celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow – who has her own wellness empire – who featured the founder on one of her podcasts.
Through testimonials from former members and archive footage recorded at events, classes, conferences and seminars, the documentary manages to convey the impact of the growth of the idea, but also the dirty laundry of its fall. Because what started out as a message of female emancipation ended up being twisted into some sort of cult that Nicole was the leader of. Throughout the hour and a half that the film lasts, we witness the testimony of several former members who talk about the psychological manipulation of which they would have been victims. They give examples of situations experienced under the founder’s direction, such as having to serve as guinea pigs in sexual demonstrations to bait the pockets of male customers who paid tens of thousands of dollars for ” learn ” the technique.
It’s about an empire that has found a sexual niche with its own terminologies, instigating arousal as a means of sustenance for women, a means of feeling powerful rather than valuing their own desires and worth. Some of the women who rose through the ranks of the organization reveal that they felt psychologically manipulated by the founder, repressing their true desires in order to please this charismatic leader. While evoking techniques of humiliation and psychological violence as if it were a cult doctrine.
And what was born as a feminist idea would have turned into something dark where occultism, male masturbation, sadomasochism classes and the acceptance of violence as part of male liberation began to take place. Not only do the ex-members reveal it, but they also rely on tapes that prove it and one particular lecture where Nicole Daedone said rape doesn’t exist if the woman is turned on. “If you want to know the real way to deflect a rape is to be 100% turned on. That way, there’s nothing to violate,” she said in a OneTaste lesson.
Reportedly, Nicole Daedone diverted her wellness empire to ideas from other religions and beliefs, including Scientology. However, the matter turned to the occult with rituals in which they appointed ” orgasm priests“, practicing “orgasmic meditation” as if it were an epic ritual in which men passed from woman to woman. There is talk of some 200 attendees, a five-day event and a ticket worth around $15,000, with final profits estimated at $1 million.
Daedone taught that the more one practiced orgasmic meditation, the more one released one’s traumas, associating his feel-good message with selling his lessons on female sexuality. And I say sell because that’s how they show it in the documentary, with a whole strategy to entice future members into open discussions, payment plans, and an empathetic but aggressive sales technique focused on empowering the client until he has no other choice but to believe that it is the best option for his life.
But it all came crashing down in 2018 when Bloomberg published an article about the company, alleging employees were being pressured by their bosses to take expensive courses they couldn’t afford. Others accused OneTaste of being a “prostitution ring” where employees were invited to have sex with each other to resolve conflicts or work-related tensions, or to participate in orgasmic meditations with clients. OneTaste maintains that the allegations are false, and while no charges have been brought against the company or its founder, an FBI investigation is ongoing.
Nevertheless, the company is still active under another name – Institute of Om – and offers OM courses for $525. Meanwhile, Nicole Daedone disappeared from the radar for a while, only to return to Instagram right after the documentary’s release. And she did it with a video, and her only post after deleting all of her profile history, where she repeats her mantra of the independent power of each person. It’s not entirely clear if this is a statement of intent against the documentary, but I don’t think I’m wrong in being inclined to believe it is.
The Orgasm Industry: The Story of OneTaste is available on Netflix and while it doesn’t have the punch of similar documentaries like The Tinder Hustler, Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator or Wild Wild Country, it offers an intimate look at how an interesting idea is born. An idea that brought down the veil of taboo on the female orgasm, but which ended up being distorted by the apparent abuse of power by a woman.