Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced us all to stay indoors, locked away from our pals and bottomless brunches, many of us became experts in self-care. From mindfulness to meditation, there was no end to the wellness practices that we learnt to master behind closed doors. But, what happens when wellness gets, err, weird?
Well, seems like the folks over at Netflix wanted to know just that, as the streaming giant's newest true crime documentary explores the world of sex cults. Yep, you heard us right, sex cults.
The sex cult in question? OneTaste – a sexual wellness brand that taught clients how to achieve "orgasmic meditation", but soon found itself under the FBI's microscope. In the documentary – which will premiere on 5 November – Netflix takes a deep dive into how this San Francisco based start-up became caught up in some seriously dodgy dealings.
Ahead of the documentary's release, here's what you need to know about the true story behind Orgasm Inc: The Story Of OneTaste and the woman behind it, Nicole Daedone.
"Sprung from San Francisco’s tech bubble and hailed by top health and wellness outlets as a path to fulfilment, OneTaste was a sexual wellness company that gained global notoriety through the teaching of a practice called 'orgasmic meditation'," the Netflix synopsis reads.
"This investigative documentary employs access to 15 years of never-before-seen footage and interviews with former members to pull back the curtain on the organisation and its controversial, enigmatic leader."
OneTaste was founded in 2001 by Nicole Daedone, who had a vision that women could achieve enlightenment through "orgasmic meditation". For those signing up, Daedone promised 15-minute orgasms, greater emotional awareness and a strong sense of fulfilment. Sounds enticing, right?
OneTaste invited clients to their urban retreat centres in San Francisco and New York, later expanding to Los Angeles and London where they offered workshops and training programmes.
Said programmes came at a cost though, leading sceptics to question if OneTaste was pyramid scheme – or worse, a cult. A week-long training programme with Daedone was available to clients for the price of $36,000 (£31,400), while a year-long premium membership was available for $60,000 (£52,397).
Almost two decades on from the birth of OneTaste, things came crashing down in 2018 when Bloomberg published an exposé about how the company was allegedly treating its employees.
In the article, Bloomberg claimed that employees were pressured to 'up-level' by enrolling in expensive courses and retreats that left them in debt. Former staff members were even reported as describing the whole operation as "a kind of prostitution ring" that exploited trauma victims.
Former OneTaste employees also claimed that they were often ordered by managers to have sex with, or perform "orgasmic meditation" with each other, or with clients.
Shortly after Bloomerg's investigation went live, OneTaste was forced to put operations on hold when the FBI launched a probe into the company over allegations of prostitution, sex trafficking and violations of labour law.
OneTaste was later rebranded as The Unconditional Freedom Project.
Just one year before Bloomberg's shocking investigation – and the FBI's probe – OneTaste founder Daedone sold her stake in the company. She has since maintained a relatively low-key profile, but in 2022 went public with a libel case against the BBC over their podcast series: The Orgasm Cult.
An interim hearing regarding the complaint was first heard at the UK’s High Court on 7 July 2022.
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