Netflix’s library of true crime and true scandal documentaries has just been added. “Orgasm Inc: The Story of OneTaste” features some familiar beats: an “edgy” wellness brand that promises great results but requires intense intimacy, whispers of undue pressure and abusive behavior, and plenty of lawsuits. Let’s break down some of the key facts we know about OneTaste, its controversies, and what’s happened since.
What is OneKey?
Founded in 2005 by Nicole Daedone, OneTaste billed itself as a “sexual wellness” company focused on a trademarked practice called “orgasmic meditation.” The company used to be promoted by big celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow.
What is Orgasmic Meditation?
“Orgasmic Meditation” (OM-ing for short) has been touted in OneTaste promotional videos in “Orgasm Inc.” as a way to “connect with yourself, connect with your partner, and feel more in your body.” According to a 2009 New York Times report, the practice involved men and women teaming up as “research partners.” The “partners” were not meant to make eye contact and may or may not have been romantic partners.
Women, naked from the waist down, lay with their legs apart, and men, fully clothed, stroked the women’s genitals for 15 minutes in front of other participants. According to Orgasm Inc., more experienced “strokers” were encouraged to describe the genitals of the “stroke.” While Daedone taught about OM-ing using the pronouns “he” and “she”, the practice could be done between any combination of genders.
The controversies of OneTaste
As OneTaste’s courses grew in popularity, they soon became a source of controversy. In 2018, Bloomberg published an exposé about the company that was full of disturbing revelations. Among the allegations in the article: a predatory sales and recruitment model, inappropriately crossing boundaries, directing employees to engage in sexual activity with clients and/or each other, and other forms of manipulation. Bloomberg also reported on a previously undisclosed settlement the company reached in 2015 that paid a six-figure out-of-court settlement to a former employee after the employee alleged sexual harassment, assault and other labor violations while at work. Another case involving sexual abuse and fraud committed by the company on someone who claimed it had promised her employment was dismissed by a judge in 2019.
In November 2018, Bloomberg reported again on OneTaste, claiming it was the subject of an FBI investigation, specifically over whether the company coerced employees into engaging in sexual activity to close sales. The FBI declined to confirm or deny the existence of such an investigation. OneTaste said it had not been contacted by the FBI and denied the allegations.
Why did OneTaste participants sue Netflix?
More lawsuits followed in OneTaste circles, although this time the company is not the target of the lawsuits. A group of people formerly associated with OneTaste sued Netflix, alleging that video footage in the documentary shows them in real OneTaste workshops and was sold without their consent. They alleged that Chris Kosley, formerly a videographer for OneTaste, sold footage of retreats and workshops to Netflix, including intimate and explicit footage for internal use only.
In an interview with Netflix fansite Tudum, filmmaker Sarah Gibson insisted that no one’s rights were violated in the making of the film. “The footage featured in our film was all legally sourced by us and much was already public and disseminated by OneTaste itself or on YouTube or in previous news reports. No one’s rights were infringed by the footage we used, if it contained more sensitive footage, we used it sparingly and took great care and responsibility in editing and cropping so as not to exploit it or make it sensationalist,” she said. Only days before the film’s release on Netflix, a Los Angeles judge denied the group’s request to block or alter the footage, finding they had failed to provide evidence that the film contained explicit material of theirs, nor that they had shown that the release of the film would “damage irreparably”.
Is OneTaste still in business?
According to the documentary, OneTaste still exists and has been renamed the Institute of OM (“OM” is the abbreviation it uses for its practice of “orgasmic meditation”). The current website highlights online and app-based offerings rather than the in-person courses and retreats that were the subject of investigation in the documentary.