Wearing a red mini dress and stilettos, Nicole Daedone slips into an apron. “I wear an apron because I’ve ruined all my dresses with lube at this point,” she jokes. A small blonde woman clad in black comes out and joins Daedone on stage. We are in the Scottish Rite Center, a masonic temple in downtown Oakland, California. The massive columned room is packed with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. They have been dancing, yelling out. Call this the orgasm revival.
A massage table with cushions is carried onto the stage. “A demo is fundamentally a celebration,” quips Daedone. She pulls on a pair of rubber gloves. The blonde woman climbs onto the table, takes off her pants, spreads her legs, and the demo begins.
Nicole Daedone is the founder of One Taste—a business dedicated to teaching “orgasmic meditation,” or “OM.” This was the keynote opening to the OMX 2014 Unconditional Sex: Entering the Flow State conference last weekend. In front of a crowd of just more than 700 people (plus a telecasting), Daedone proceeded to bring the woman on stage to a state of orgasmic bliss using a complex stroking technique that she has learned from a lifetime of spiritual and sexual training. She gave the crowd a taste of what she terms an “unapologetically asymmetrical” practice that focuses unilaterally on the female orgasm as a means of finding deeper connection to the body, the divine, and each other.
“We women are prone to exaggeration,” she told the crowd. “You want to learn to bring her to a state where nothing can be faked. … We aim for a state of involuntarily being turned on—swelling of the lips, darkening of the eyes, crying.”
The conference, a three day event hosting speakers ranging from Naomi Wolf, author of Vagina and New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler to a BDSM expert named Cléo DuBois and Dr. Jenny Wade, an expert on transcendental sex, was as much a meeting place as it was revival or cultish festival. The lectures were punctuated by raffles, dance parties, and every hour, on the hour, the option to OM—to practice the orgasm meditation that brought all these names together. “Most of us have an incredibly limited understanding of what orgasm can be,” Daedone explained.
On Saturday morning, day two of three, the OM-ing began. In a mandatory orientation in a wood-paneled side room, they reminded us “You need to provide your own lube. Keep track of your lube—each jar looks the same.” This was no ordinary weekend at the Scottish Rite Center. Jars of lube floated about and many men and women wore shirts reading “Orgasm Expert” or “Powered by Orgasm.” When I opted for a 15-minute massage to relieve the stress, even the massage therapist used lube on my shoulders and suggested, to relieve my back tension, that I “get stroked three times a week.” At this conference, climax was prescribed as the cure to all ailments. “Orgasm,” Daedone said, “gives you the power to be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Dr. Sarah Gottfried, author of The Hormone Cure proposed just this in her Saturday morning talk. She suggested we remodel the limbic system with oxytocin—a hormone released during orgasm. Her message: “We ghetto-ize orgasm. We have internalized patriarchy.” OM is her proposed patriarchal break down. “Orgasm is a majorly needed nutrient,” she said, “it reconstitutes us hormonally, emotionally, and spiritually.”
In order to practice orgasmic meditation, the conference participants all had to go through a training. There was an early how-to certification class followed by the option to “OM every hour on the hour.” This meant that every hour on the hour, on the third floor of the Masonic temple, the conference-goers paired off two by two. In a room filled with blankets, cushions, yoga mats, plastic gloves, small hand towels, and a ton of lube, each woman removed her pants. Her partner, stranger or not, would stroke her clitoris in the prescribed manner for the full 15 minutes. Afterward, they emerged like nothing had happened. But a strange glow and intensity built over the day.
Despite being a conference about the female orgasm, there seemed to be a solid focus on men, masculinity, and the power this practice might offer them throughout the weekend. “Men want to please you more than you can humanly imagine,” Daedone said. She told stories of men who couldn’t please their women that went something like, “No matter what I did, I couldn’t make her happy, it was devastating to my masculinity.” Manhood, in the model Daedone proposes, is tied to this worshipping of the female sexual experience.
The conference was at least half full of men, young and old. During the training session, a young man named Eli, a One Taste coach from Brooklyn, told us what he takes from the experience.
One man asked him: Why bother? What does a man get from sitting there stroking a woman and not receiving hands-on pleasure in return? “As a stroker I am learning to feel,” Eli said, “to put my finger on this incredibly sensational spot on a living breathing organism, to come into contact with so much life in one particular place.” He also spoke about his white middle class male privilege and how he had to really check it at the door. “For me this is one thing that is not going according to my ride.” What he does: “Feel where the sensation is and meet it on its terms. I have to actually be willing to sit down and feel what’s right. I have a felt sense that I didn’t have before this.”
OM, they said in the training, “is a practice. It follows a very specific set of guidelines. It is a specific container. It is its own sovereign thing. No offers or expectations.” It is separate from sex, from foreplay, from what happens in the bedroom. It is a meditation, an isolated and contained practice meant to bring the “stroker” and the “strokee” to a deeper sense of awareness. Daedone explained in the keynote: “For me it is the same if I am on my back or I’m stroking. I am surrendering more to her orgasm than she is surrendering to me, but we are both surrendering to the same thing.”
OM-ing is essentially a 15 minute partnered exercise. The stroker strokes the upper left hand quadrant of the clitoris without a finite goal. “There is no trying to get enlightened,” they explained at our demo, “Climax doesn’t mean [you’ve done it] right or wrong. If you get into the position you have already done it right.” Their message is that women should be climaxing more and this comes through feeling, trusting, undoing subconscious patriarchal conditioning, and letting go.
“The clitoris alone has two times as many nerve endings as the entire penis,” explained one instructor. The kind of touch they suggest: “A slow, light, feel-every-ridge-on-your-fingertip kind of stroke.” The idea is that the woman learns to feel more nuanced elements of pleasure and the stroker, through observing and exploring the strokee's experience and what it elicits in his own body, then comes into closer contact with himself.
The practice, as they preach it, is maybe 10 percent technique, 90 percent feeling. “If you are looking for technique,” they warned, “you are in the wrong place.”
Still, the practice is more complicated than I realized. The conference seemed peppy, silly, cultish and irritating until I bought into it. A guy in a top hat was my partner and it worked, the whole scary thing worked. I was in a room with a whole bunch of strangers and all we cisgendered women took our pants off. We let the strangers do this thing to us that felt, really, like an extreme version of going to the gynecologist. Yes, 15 minutes is a long time. Yes, I learned to ask for what I wanted. And yes, the results were amazing. By the third day of the conference I was a convert. I was touching people too much, and attentively listening to the benefits of orgasm.
It turns out the OM community is vast. If I needed to be “stroked three times a week,” apparently it could be arranged at Bay Area meet ups, no strings attached. Pleasure, in this system, is sanctioned and enabled on a regular basis.
On the last day of the conference, someone in the bathroom had a medical emergency. She was in a wheel chair and needed a dry pair of pants. I took off my leggings from under my dress and just passed them on. That was what Nicole Daedone's conference did to me—made me open and loving and weird and alive, and willing to share my heart, or my pants, with perfect strangers.