Wellness group or sex trafficking cult? The FBI investigate ‘One Taste’
In 2001, Californian Nicole Daedone founded a group called OneTaste, which offered hands-on orgasm “training” for women looking to explore their sexuality or heal from sexual trauma.
In a new BBC series titled The Orgasm Cult, journalist Nastaran Tavakoli-Far takes a closer look at the group, and suggests it might have had a darker side to it. Could OneTaste have been a sex cult disguised as a healing center? Let’s take a look.
In The Orgasm Cult, Tavakoli-Far describes the OneTaste’s process: “It involves a woman undressing from the waist down, lying on a nest of pillows, and having her clitoris stroked, usually by a man, very precisely on the upper left-hand quadrant, the so-called ‘one o’clock spot,” she explains. “A timer goes off after 15 minutes.”
OneTaste was subject to scrutiny ever since 2018, when Bloomberg News published an exposé on the group. The exposé followed the account of a woman named Michal, who was a member of the group for a while.
Bloomberg News explained Mical’s situation: “She was also $20,000 in debt from buying [OneTaste’s] classes. She was married during a two-week, $36,000-a-person retreat called the Nicole Daedone Intensive. By the time she & 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.’”
Was OneTaste a pyramid scheme?
According to ex-staffers, many students of OneTaste allegedly signed up to work as salespeople, helping promote workshops, retreats, and programs with exorbitantly high price tags. Customers were paying $499 for a weekend course, $4,000 for a retreat, $12,000 for the coaching program, and $60,000 for an all-inclusive option.
Although the prices seem out of control, the real cause for concern came from allegations from ex-staffers, who told Bloomberg they were forced to have sex with potential clients to get them to sign up for these programs. Sales methods were predatory, they said. They knew they were putting people in a deep dark pit of debt.
Some former members referred to the company as a “kind of prostitution ring” that expoited victims of trauma. Ex-staffers also claimed they were told to flirt and have sex with customers to solidify sales. The pressure was also reportedly high to get people to sign up for these programs – former employees cited commission-only wages as a cause. “Employees were expected to make OneTaste their entire lives,” reported Bloomberg.
The FBI investigation
Shortly after this report, the FBI opened an investigation into this group. Tavakoli-Far commented on the ongoing investigation: “The FBI is now making inquiries about OneTaste’s activities over allegations including sex trafficking, prostitution, and violations of labor law.”
Shortly after these allegations were made, OneTaste stopped running classes. Hmm. Interesting timing. Not only that, but their website, OneTaste.us, has since been disconnected, along with their phone number.
Daedone hasn’t yet commented on the exposé , but a company rep denied any wrongdoing. “Any allegations of abusive practices are completely false,” the rep told the Daily Mail. “OneTaste was an organization that helped individuals increase health, happiness and connection through methods combining mindfulness and sexuality.”
The rep continued: “More than 300,000 people practice Orgasmic Meditation worldwide. Many have experienced profound healing and transformation.”
In addition, back when Bloomberg originally released their findings, the company also denied any sketchy behavior, saying “We never asked anyone as part of a sale to have sex with customers. . . it’s a false and outrageous allegation that insults both us and our customers.”
In an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, Daedone insisted the group was well-intentioned & wholesome. Daedone explained she was first introduced to orgasmic meditation by a Buddhist monk and began officially teaching it in 2001. In the same interview, Daedone also claimed it improves metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and brain chemistry.
At its peak, OneTaste had 150 employees in nine cities and targeted Silicon Valley’s rich.
Though the investigation is still ongoing, it’s not looking great for the company. One member reflected on their time at OneTaste: “I feel really disgusted that I put myself through that. I felt so much more confused about sex and the boundaries of my body, even though that’s what they say it helps you cultivate.”