How did a wellness company end up at the other end of an FBI probe..
This is a story of sex, scandal and coercion.
Nicole Daedone, a California native would become the subject of controversy as her business grew..but first let us begin the story of OneTaste and Orgasmic Meditation.
It all began with an unnamed monk, Daedone met this monk at a party and he asked her to “butterfly” her legs and began touching her clitoris for some time. Nicole referred to that experience as orgasmic meditation and wanted to “live in that place” and even more so, she wanted everyone to “live in that place”. In her own words Nicole believed that female orgasms could change the world.
OneTaste was founded in San Francisco in 2004. Nicole wanted the word to spread and she wanted to do it quickly. So they started small workshops within the area. This involved a woman naked from the waist down having her clitoris stroked for up to 15 minutes by a man. Either someone she knew or a paying customer. Nicole told customers at these workshops that orgasmic meditation would improve their sex life and allow them to reclaim their sexuality even going as far as saying that it could cure sexual trauma. OneTaste was relatively unknown but Nicole had big plans for the new business. One claim she also made was that orgasmic meditation would be as widely used as yoga and meditation. People were attracted by the promises and Nicole’s strong conviction. This is what led to thousands of customers signing up to learn the technique.
Nicole had a strong message behind her brand and good marketing which led to a number of initial customers and members signing up to work for her as employees.
28-year old Michal was an assistant teacher in New York when she first tried a OneTaste introductory workshop. She was instantly drawn in by Nicole’s promise of guaranteed orgasm. This was something that Michal had never experienced despite consulting doctors and psychiatrists for help.
Soon she’d taken part in her first orgasmic meditation class. The 28 year old was nervous but keen to embark on the road to orgasm.
Here’s where the plot thickens.
Michal quickly found herself in $12000 worth of debt after a OneTaste employee convinced her to sign up for a coaching programme within the company. In just over a month Michal quit her job. Unable to afford rent, she moved into a communal property where OneTaste members and employees lived together. Once embedded into the OneTaste ecosystem, Michal soon realised there was a very sinister side to the wellness company.
As business grew, Nicole formed a cult of personality amongst members and employees. She garnered considerable respect and people wanted to be liked by her. Michal was also in awe of Nicole and wanted to be closer to her. She took part in group OM sessions when she didn’t want to. Michal was forced to have sex with people and was taken advantage of by several senior employees. All whilst racking up more debt with the company for trips and classes Michal was told would help her.
She wasn’t the only one who got burnt by the wellness cult.
In 2009 the New York Times put One Taste on the front page of its style section and they went mainstream. As they received approval from celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow more recognition gave the company credibility and exposed them to a wider audience. Onetaste was able to expand and opened branches in Los Angeles and London.
Nicole was charging for personal classes with her at $36000 and people were really paying. Maybe there was something profound and special about orgasmic meditation..?
A weekend course costs $400, a retreat is $4000 and coaching programmes are $12000 a pop.
Ruwan ended up with $30000 of debt after leaving the company as an employee. He told Bloomberg in 2018 that OneTaste would often use their employees as bait so they could sell more classes to customers. He recalled a time that Rachel Cherwitz, one of Nicole’s senior staffers had instructed him to have sex with a customer. Rachel would call her after Ruwan had sex with the woman and sell her another class. OneTaste became known for its aggressive sales pitches and was called out for their pyramid scheme business model.
The company had been haemorrhaging money from loyal followers turned employees as they were pressured into buying courses to further improve themselves. When members were in debt up to their eyeballs they were taught that money was just a social construct in an attempt to stop members from panicking and possibly seeking legal action or speaking out to someone outside the OneTaste community. This same strategy was implemented on customers who would be encouraged to take out loans otherwise they ran the risk of ‘losing their souls’.
Nicole remained tight-lipped amongst the growing controversy surrounding OneTaste as former staffers compared the company to a cult.
The OneTaste business ran like a prositution ring as members were encouraged to get rich tech guys to pay off their debts for classes and memberships. As OneTaste was founded in the heart of silicon valley. There were many wealthy men in the tech industry who regularly attended the OM sessions. With deep pockets, many male customers were under the impression that they were able to buy sexual favours from the members. Even though Orgasmic Meditation was marketed as a form of clitoral stimulation for women and was centred solely around the woman’s pleasure, male and female members of the community were being coerced into having sexual relations with customers in order to keep business going.
Why did so many people become members/staffers at the wellness company? Many had their own personal stories of trauma, depression and anxiety that led them to seek out something new and different. Nicole was said to be very charismatic and charming by many members and they initially joined as they were so moved by her mission to empower women and change the way they experienced sex.
Newbies were drawn to OneTaste because Nicole promised them not just an orgasm but a life of peace, tranquillity and purpose. No longer would they be lost sheep now that they had met their shepherd.
As Nicole began to take more of a back seat her head of Sales Rachel Cherwitz became more of the front of house for OneTaste. Rachel coerced newer members to have sex with other staffers and customers. She encouraged everyone to practise OM with one another at every waking moment as her solution to everything was more sex. One former member who goes by the pseudonym Diana likened Rachel to a modern day pimp in the way she used her and other members to get rich men and women to sign up for programmes.
Nobody knew why Nicole had faded into the background but she became more elusive which added to the cult of personality. All kinds of rumours swirled around about Nicole Daedone, some said her father had molested her as a child and was now in jail, others say she used to be an expensive escort but nobody really knew the real her. She had big plans for OneTaste and it was becoming more and more indistinguishable from a cult. As of today there are no OM classes running and all locations have been closed as there continues to be an ongoing criminal investigation.
Many women who felt ignored by the medical industry turned to OneTaste and Orgasmic Meditation out of sheer desperation. Nicole tugged at the heart strings of women who were out of options and at a loss. OneTaste targeted many individuals that had past sexual trauma and underlying mental health conditions because they were easy to manipulate. Nicole Daedone was a sales woman and she sold the shit out of Orgasmic Meditation.
In relation to the numerous allegations brought forth to the company which in turn kick started an FBI investigation, OneTaste responded in a statement:
“Any allegations of abusive practices are completely false. OneTaste was an organisation that helped individuals to increase health, happiness and connection through methods combining mindfulness and sexuality.”