The founder of the One Taste Urban Retreat Center, Nicole Daedone, sees herself as leading “the slow-sex movement,” one that places a near-exclusive emphasis on women’s pleasure — in which love, romance and even flirtation are not required.
A core of 38 men and women — their average age the late 20s — live full time in the retreat center, a shabby-chic loft building in the South of Market district. They prepare meals together, practice yoga and mindfulness meditation and lead workshops in communication for outside groups as large as 60.
At 7 a.m. each day, as the rest of America is eating Cheerios or trying to face gridlock without hyperventilating, about a dozen women, naked from the waist down, lie with eyes closed in a velvet-curtained room, while clothed men huddle over them, stroking them in a ritual known as orgasmic meditation — “OMing,” for short. The couples, who may or may not be romantically involved, call one another “research partners.”
Most residents are young questers, seeking to fill an inner void and become empowered through Ms. Daedone’s blend of female-centric spirituality and sexuality. One, Beth Crittenden, 33, grew up in conservative Virginia tobacco country, a place, she said, where the fundamentals of the female anatomy were never discussed and masturbation was unmentionable. “I’d never done anything even in the dead of night,” she said.
In the One Taste world, a weirdly clinical pact is made between the women and men. There is no eye contact during orgasmic meditation. The idea, similar to Buddhist Tantric sex, is to extend the sensory peak — and publicly share it — before “going over,” as residents, who tend toward group-speak, call climaxing.
Although men are not touched by the women and do not climax, they say they experience a sense of energy and satiation. Both the strokers and strokees insist that all this OMing is really about the “hydration” of the self, the human connection, not sex.
Said Ms. Daedone, 41, who can quote the poet Mary Oliver and speak wryly on the intricacies of women’s anatomy with equal aplomb. “I don’t think women will really experience freedom until they own their sexuality.”