Former employees of a wellness company that has been dubbed an ‘orgasm cult’ have spoken out about what really happened behind closed doors at their communal properties where up to 40 people slept in a single bedroom.
OneTaste was co-founded in 2004 by
Thousands of customers signed up to learn orgasmic meditation, or OM, with OneTaste, attracted by Daedone’s promises it could improve their sex life, help them to ‘reclaim their sexuality’ and even aide in recovery from sexual trauma. She also insisted that the practice would one day be widely used like yoga or meditation and made the broad claim that it would ‘change the world’.
But for years OneTaste has been dogged by 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.
OneTaste is currently under investigation by the
Speaking on BBC podcast
Former chief technology officer Chris Hubbard claimed he was lured into working for the company by women who had been ‘told’ by founder Nicole Daedone (pictured) to ‘turn him on’ and have sex with him so he would ‘come back’
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
‘They needed somebody who had the kind of skills I had,’ he explains to BBC journalist Nastaran Tavakoli-Far in the third episode of the podcast, released this week.
‘So Nicole would tell women: “Go get that guy. Go get him all turned on and hot and bothered. We’ll make sure he comes back”. So suddenly there were two or three, in my mind, absolutely stunningly gorgeous women, who were articulate and smart and fun and delightful, wanting to have sex with me.
‘I didn’t really earn that but I’m not going to say “no”. There were a lot of women who wanted me to stroke them, or “OM” with them. So I had my hands on a lot of p***y and that’s probably my favourite thing in the world.’
Chris joined OneTaste in its early days, when the company had 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.
‘We set up a lot of beds, mostly queen and king-sized mattresses and we had 20-30 people living in there, two people to a bed,’ he recalls of the first OneTaste property, known as ‘the warehouse’. ‘You didn’t get to pick who you shared a bed with, you were mostly assigned. I actually liked living with lots of people.
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 affects the same parts of the human brain as conventional meditation.
‘My favourite part about OneTaste was the communal living. There is something really fascinating about humans being actual humans and not being on good behaviour all the time.’
Another former employee, identified by the pseudonym Willow, described the space. ‘I moved into the warehouse which was a big open space, about 40 people lived there,’ she recalled.
‘The room was partitioned off with sheets so there was a smidgen of privacy but not really. And the bathrooms were completely open with co-ed gang showers.
‘People think they need privacy and what I realised is, you really don’t. Once you get used to not having it, you don’t miss it all that much…
‘There was a way where we felt like a big and dysfunctional family. We would say “we stay connected no matter what” and that was true, it’s like “these are the brothers and sisters you can’t get rid of” and you have to deal with their weirdness and if your stuff comes up against their stuff.
‘I would go to work and women would borrow my clothes and I would come back and get mad about it and I would think “wow, this is like we’re sisters in a big house”.’
First developed in a commune in northern California in the 1960s, orgasmic meditation, also known as OM or OM-ing, was first introduced to Daedone by a Buddhist monk.
The moment led to a spiritual breakthrough and Daedone began teaching in 2001.
OneTaste repackaged the concept and sold it to customers in expensive sessions.
At its peak it employed 150 people across nine cities including San Francisco, New York and London. One 2018 report suggested there were 10,000 practitioners worldwide and 2,000 in the UK alone.
As of 2018, students were paying $499 for a weekend course, $4,000 for a retreat, $12,000 for a spot in the coaching program, and $16,000 for intensives, with an all-inclusive option also offered for $60,000. Group classes involve dozens of women, naked from the waist down, having their clitorises stroked at the same time.
First developed in a commune in northern California in the 1960s, orgasmic meditation, also known as OM or OM-ing, was first introduced to Daedone (pictured) by a Buddhist monk
Founder: OneTaste was founded in 2004 by Nicole Daedone (above) and promotes wellness through orgasmic meditation. OneTaste is currently not allowed to offer classes while the FBI makes inquiries about its activities, including allegations of ‘sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labor laws’, a podcast has claimed
Willow described one class just for women which she looks back on really fondly. At one point during the session, the women got undressed lay back ‘spread their legs’ and showed their genitalia to the other women in the group.
‘That feels really empowering and [to know] that what I look like is completely right and normal and beautiful and there are 10 other people in the room who are saying, “yes, this is beautiful to me too”,’ she said.
Who is OneTaste 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.
Two former employees explained how they were drawn into the group by the power of Nicole. One woman said she started as a customer but wanted to spend more time with the founder.
‘She was tremendously magnetic,’ the employee said. ‘She was Amazonian. She knew herself 1,000 per cent and just had this presence and self-awareness and self-acceptance and self-love that I don’t think I’d ever witnessed in anyone.
‘I was still a little nervous about the practice [OM] but I wanted more time with her. I frankly wanted to be her. I think a lot of people who came in did. She was kind of a god figure almost.’
Another man named Bob said: ‘She has this ability to look at somebody and makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. And of course everyone else is sitting and hanging on her every word.’
The website once used by OneTaste is no longer in use and its YouTube channel, which has had more than 1.5million views, has not been updated in two years.
Daedone’s personal website is no longer in use and her personal Instagram account, which is set to private, makes no mention of OneTaste in the bio section.
They told the publication that they were encouraged to take expensive classes and shunned by members of the community when they did not choose to participate in the sessions.
At the time OneTaste told DailyMail.com that the Bloomberg article paints the company in a false light, hand-picking the sensational allegations of a few while ignoring thousands of satisfied and happy customers.
Moreover, a spokesperson for the group stated that all of the allegations are more than two years old from before OneTaste transformed, under new ownership and leadership, into a traditional company with strong corporate governance, clear-cut sales policies and practices, and strict HR policies.
A OneTaste representative told MailOnline last week in response to a separate story about OneTaste: ‘Any allegations of abusive practices are completely false. OneTaste was an organization that helped individuals to increase health, happiness and connection through methods combining mindfulness and sexuality.
‘More than 300,000 people practice Orgasmic Meditation worldwide. Many have experienced profound healing and transformation.’
The podcast, which will be 10 episodes in total, will also explore the wider wellness industry and the way it interacts with its largely female customer base.
The Orgasm Cult is available to download on BBC Sounds and via the programme