‘It went from utopia to a hell hole’: The bizarre story behind Netflix’s Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste

‘It went from utopia to a hell hole’: The bizarre story behind Netflix’s Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste

“There’s a pleasure deficit disorder in this country… and the cure is the female orgasm.” Those are the words of Nicole Daedone, the co-founder of the American orgasmic meditation group OneTaste, during a 2011 TED talk.

A new Netflix documentary, Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste, features never-before-seen footage and interviews that lift the lid on the group, and an FBI investigation into claims of sex trafficking, prostitution and labour violations at the organisation.

OneTaste, founded by Daedone and Robert Kandell, began as a Silicon Valley wellness start-up in 2015, and was promoted by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow (who interviewed Daedone on her Goop podcast) and Khloé Kardashian.

Over the years, it slowly transformed into something much more damaging, and has been accused of becoming a for-profit sex cult. While Daedone stepped down as CEO in 2017, her book, Slow Sex, is still up for sale on Goop’s website.

A Bloomberg Businessweek exposé from 2018 stated that “in some members’ experiences, the company used flirtation and sex to lure emotionally vulnerable targets”, adding: “It taught employees to work for free or cheap to show devotion. And managers frequently ordered staffers to have sex or OM [orgasmic meditation] with each other or with customers.”

The hour-and-a-half documentary includes interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Ellen Huet, former members of OneTaste, former “master strokers” who performed OM on women, and Daedone’s ex-husband.

One former member said the group “went from utopia to a hell hole” during his time there. Many had joined the group initially to try to achieve sexual pleasure that they had never been able to reach before, while others were recovering from trauma or were looking for deeper and more meaningful connections with other people.

The group would give customers OM demonstrations – wherein a woman would lie on a bed and be “stroked” by a practitioner, apparently with the aim of experiencing a 15-minute-long orgasm.

In demo videos, the practice would be introduced with the words: “This is what you need to know how to truly handle a woman’s p****.”

The beginning of an OM session (Courtesy of Netflix)
The beginning of an OM session (Courtesy of Netflix)

Before the group’s downfall, it had expanded internationally – with offices in LA, New York and London.

Daedone would hold weekend-long conferences, which in 2013 and 2014 were attended by thousands. Membership prices for a year sold for as much as $60,000 (£53,500).

In 2018, OneTaste closed all its US offices and stopped offering in-person courses and retreats, saying it was now focusing on online education to reach a wider audience.

After the FBI investigation, the company rebranded and is still operating as The Institute of OM. The FBI has questioned several former members about OneTaste’s business and labour practices. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been brought to date.

OneTaste previously said “any allegations of abusive practices are completely false”, while Daedone is currently looking for a ghost writer to collaborate on a book about “cancel culture”.

A group of 15 former participants of OneTaste are suing Netflix over the documentary, alleging that footage used in it was stolen and distributed by a former videographer for the company.

Documentary director Sarah Gibson said the video was “legally obtained and much was already public and had been distributed by OneTaste themselves, or on YouTube, or in past news reports”.

“No one’s rights have been violated by the footage we used,” she said. “When there was more sensitive footage included, we used it sparingly and took immense care and responsibility to edit and crop as to not exploit or sensationalise it.

“It was important to convey the large numbers of people attending these activities and use the footage to provide context about the culture of the organisation.”

Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste is released on Netflix on Saturday 5 November.