Art by Marina Kukso
Julie needed a fresh start, so she moved back home to the Bay Area, and made a new group of friends.
Produced by Benjamin Frisch, who in addition to great radio, also makes great comic art. Check out his book, The Fun Family, here.
Artist – Title – Album
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Stratus – EARS
Ulfur – White Mountain – White Mountain
Mushio Funazawa – A Woman’s Nail And A Red Moon- The End of Negation
CoH – Faster Than Sound – Above Air
Charlie Salas Humara – Tracks 1&2 – N/A
Steve Reich – Pulses – Music For 18 Musicians
O.E.S. – Denis is Moondogging – Moondogging
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Envelop – EARS
Charlie Salas Humara – Track 3 – N/A
elizabeth Veldon – You Will Find My Traces in the Fuente del Sali’n- Two Hand Stencils
Anna Homler, Steve Moshier – Gu She’ Na’ Di – Breadwoman and Other Tales
Duet For Theremin and Lap Steel – Interpretations feat. Helena Espvall – Collaborations
Nobekazu Takemura – The Ring of Spell – 10th
Mushio Funazawa – A Woman’s Nail And A Red Moon- The End of Negation
Shy Layers – For You – 2
I had been in L.A. for eight years. I was really burned out, I was really depressed. A boyfriend that I had totally fucked me over; he wanted me to be there for him and cook for him and be his girl, but he didn’t wanna give me the attention that I needed. It was very hot and cold, and stressful, and finally I confronted him.
I went over to his house and I said, “Look, how much do you want this relationship, on a scale of one to ten?” He said, “Five.” I’m like, “Really? I’ve been having sex with you and hoping that you were the one, and going to your graduation and meeting your family and you only want this relationship a five?” It was extremely painful for me to finally have to dump him, because he was never gonna dump me.
I was really ready to break out of L.A., get back to my home in the Bay Area and start making friends and putting down roots. I really wanted to meet people, I wanted to meet men. I wanted to “refurbish – as I called it – my sex life.” I want to have a relationship with deep intimacy where I can really share not just the physical body, but the emotional, psychological animal, spiritual bodies. All the things.
* * *
It’s a busy San Francisco morning, people are all rushing to and fro. I am down in this sort of up-and-coming industrial area of San Francisco called Mission Bay, and I go into the Philz coffee shop to get my coffee and write in my journal. I notice that the girl behind the counter who’s ringing me up is just very beautiful and very vibrant and very talkative.
I am talking to her, because I wanna meet people, I just landed. I say to her, “So what are you doing when you’re not pouring coffee?” and she says, “Oh, well I’m not gonna be pouring coffee that much longer, because I’m gonna become a coach.” I said, “Oh, what are you coaching?” and she goes, “I’m gonna coach women and men in intimacy, sex, communication and orgasm.”
I looked into her eyes and she was just so clear, and she just looked at me so openly, and I was like “Wow, tell me more about this.” And she did. She told me, “Well, there’s gonna be an event. It’s free, it’s this Wednesday. You should come,” and she hands me a little card.
I’m super excited that I have something to do and new people to meet when I just landed here. It just seems too good to be true.
It was held in a big, open studio space. When you walk in, they greet you and they’re all very friendly. The girls were wearing high heels and sexy, flowy skirts or blouses. They were young and attractive and confident, and they would look you in the eye. There seemed to be two leaders, a man and a woman; they were staff people from OneTaste.
OneTaste is a company… It’s like a self-help, personal growth company, but including sex. Now, can I use the word “pussy”? I’m used to using that word.
You can use whatever word you want.
Okay, because I find that — even though it sounds crass, I’m used to saying it because it sounds better than vagina or vulva.
They teach you to reclaim that word because it’s the best word, and they tell you to call a penis a cock, because it’s sexier and more powerful. The way they start out the event is they get everybody in the room, one by one, to tell them how they’re feeling in that moment.
One girl says something like, “Oh, I’m just so excited to be here and I’m a little nervous.” Then another girl says, “I’m excited and I feel my pussy sort of tingling,” and I’m like “Wow… What? What are these people talking about?” Then one by one, people go around the circle saying how they’re feeling in their body.
There’s chairs arranged in a circle in this empty room, and there’s one chair in the middle of the circle, and that’s called the hot seat. The hot seat exercise is where they pick one person, a volunteer, to sit up in front of this group of people, complete strangers, and the leader of the group starts asking them a series of questions. “Why did you come here today? What do you really desire?” Little by little, the leader would tease out what this person was really hoping for in their sexual relationships or their sexuality, and then right when the person was asked to describe “So what’s blocking you?” then they would let the person get off the hot seat. And you’re like, “Oh, what? Wait… I’m all excited now. How do I solve this?”
Then they sell you the How To OM class.
How did they pitch it to me? I wish I had their exact words. It was something like, “How about a new definition of orgasm, one that works with the human body, and you can get in on this by taking our How To OM class.” I didn’t really understand that, it didn’t really make a lot of sense, but I was so turned on by them.
All these men were coming up to me and asking me for my phone number. I was getting all this attention from men and women alike. I thought it was gonna be spiritual, and community, and women-oriented orgasm, all at the same time. But it’s a hundred dollars. I just landed here, I wanna improve my life. I’m gonna do it.
The How To OM class was a day-long workshop in San Francisco, with a bunch of strangers, like a hundred people. There’s all these people milling around, there’s music going… It’s very upbeat, like you would hear if you went into a lounge at a happy hour, or something. It started with a series of exercises to get everybody loosened up, talking to each other, feeling more open and safe to express themselves.
OM stands for Orgasmic Meditation. They told us that the orgasmic Meditation practice was like a meditation where the man is fully clothed and he sits down on a meditation cushion, just like in a zen center, and the woman lies down on a yoga mat and she butterflies her legs apart, and the man very gently strokes the tip of her clitoris for 15 minutes. And he’s supposed to stroke the very tip only on the left upper quadrant. Then he wipes her off with a towel and they share observations about their experience together with each other.
* * *
This woman was on a massage table. She was blond, she was wearing a blouse, but not pants, no underwear. We were all instructed to gather around in a big semi-circle; it was like a hundred people. Nicole Daedone, the founder of OneTaste, proceeded to hold this woman’s pussy by putting one hand on her top mound and pulling back the clitoral hood by pulling on the skin towards the belly a little bit, and with her other hand she placed her thumb that had been lubed up into the woman’s vagina.
She said something to the woman like, “I’m gonna stroke you now,” and began touching the woman’s clitoris. The more she touched, her body started to react.
Everybody was like in this trance, where the feeling of electricity in the room was unmistakable. This woman looked like she was playing a piano. She looked like she was playing a virtuoso symphony on this woman’s clitoris, and the woman started to moan and make sounds and tremble. It looked like this woman was getting this amazing pleasure, just from being stroked on her clitoris. And she climaxed, and she climaxed for a long time. I was like, “I can’t believe I just watched this in a room full of people and it wasn’t pornography.”
After I saw that orgasm demonstration, I was like “Yeah, I want this.”
What is this supposed to solve?
Oh my God… The OM philosophy is vast. It’s supposed to solve the hunger in the modern woman; that she is running around doing all the things, and yet she’s not fulfilled sexually. This is a new way, where you can bring the power of orgasm into your life. You can light up all of your personal power through orgasm, and once you have this one taste of freedom, you will never go back.
Imagine a big, well-lit yoga studio and all the woman had their pants off. There were fat women, there were thin women, there were old women, there were young women, there were all different shapes and sizes of pussies. Some were shaven, some were bushy… And that in itself was really empowering.
And then I’d lay down on the towel on the yoga mat, butterfly my legs apart, putting my knees on the pillows. Markus comes and sits down next to me. He’s grounded me, he’s put his finger in my introitus, then he takes his other hand and then he starts to stroke the clitoris, and he’s pulling up the hood. It’s quite an intense sensation, and I feel this electricity and this tingling and this intense, vulnerable openness in me. And I can’t believe that I’m doing this, and it feels really weird. It doesn’t necessarily feel pleasurable. It’s kind of like if you’re looking at a really, really bright light – it kind of hurts your eyes, but you can’t stop looking, it’s too intense. Or it maybe feels like when you have pins and needles, and somebody starts licking your finger when you have pins and needles. It just feels so weird and intense, but also extremely sexy, because you’re sitting there with your legs spread apart in a room full of other women doing the same thing, and you just saw this amazing orgasm, so I’m really expecting to feel something amazing.
A bell goes off and the announcer says, “Bring your partner down now.” So he changes the way he’s stroking to be a little bit more pressure, more smooth downwards strokes, and the excitement starts to fade. Then the bell rings again, and they say “And that’s an OM.”
He helps you sit up, and then you do this other ritualistic style of communication, sharing a single sensation from your experience with your partner. And you say, “There was a moment when an extreme tingling in my clitoris that spread all through my legs and body…” and he says “Thank you.” And then he says an experience he had. “I felt a wave of blue lava shooting down my arm as I was stroking you.” I don’t know if he said that, but they say weird things like that.
And that’s it. Then you put your pants on.
* * *
Once you take your pants off for the first time in public and have an unfamiliar man start rubbing your clitoris… Uh, that seems like a pretty good example of initiation. You’re changed after that. You’re like, “I can’t believe I just did that. But I did!”
It was exciting, man! You could talk about your sexual desires with people and they would nod their heads. They weren’t like, “Oh, oversharing…” There was none of that. There was none of that muzzling that you get in normal, polite, regular society.
I was really seeking community, and OneTaste more than anything was like, “We are all about community, and you are part of our community, because you’ve taken the class.” So I started doing this practice every day, with different people, because I want what they all said I could get – these amazing orgasms, these amazing sensations.
I OM-ed with like 10-15 different men during the course of my practice, I think. They encouraged me to say yes as often as possible, and I was all about that. Because I, in my experience in the world, everything I had learned, from flamenco guitar to Spanish, to salsa dancing, all came from saying yes to people and saying, “Yes, I wanna do this with you.”
For me, once I realized, “Oh my God, this is sex. I’m having sex with this man, only instead of his penis, it’s his hands. This is kind of cool, and I don’t owe him anything. I get to have this, really?” It was amazing.
Why not just have sex with people?
When I – I don’t know about you – have sex, usually a lot of focus is on the guy putting his cock inside and moving around. That’s mostly what I think people think of when they think of sex – penis and vagina sex. For me, this was… It was all about me and my experience, and then I could let my monkey mind take a rest and just experience the sensations without worrying about him or trying to please him.
And was that a huge relief?
Yeah, it was great. One of the things I really loved about the practice was that the guys had no expectations of me.
All of the hang-ups around my anatomy, that started to fall away; it started to become less and less a big deal, to be half-naked in a room full of strangers and acquaintances. It was less of a big deal to talk about it and to use terms like clitoris and cock and pussy. You felt like you were kind of cool, because you could throw these terms around without being embarrassed.
* * *
I was at an OM day. The first OM I did was great, and the second OM I looked around and saw that I didn’t have a partner. So I sat down with this very nice man… He was so sweet and apologetic, and said he was brand new. He starts the practice on me and I feel right away that his fingers feel like wooden claws in my pussy. I tell him to go lighter, and he doesn’t get it. He’s mashing my clit. It does not feel good.
People around me are moaning and groaning and getting off, and I’m sitting here with this man, this older gentleman I don’t even know, and I’m just lying there thinking… I feel like a medical school cadaver, and I’m thinking “I did not sign up for this. I don’t wanna do this.” And this poor gentleman deserves somebody who is gonna be patient with him, and that’s not me right now. I’m not doing this.
So I raised my hand and I asked for a coach to come over to show my partner what to do. The coach came over and tried to advise him, and he got flustered. I said, “Look, you deserve more of a loving presence than I can provide for you right now. I didn’t sign up for this, I wanna stop the OM. But why don’t we do this – why don’t you watch as the coach strokes me and then maybe you could see what I’m trying to get at?” But the man was so shook up that he left. He just got up and left.
Then we’d take a break, and there’s a women’s circle for women to share. I share in the circle about how I felt. Then, at lunchtime, a woman who has been through the coaching program comes up to me and says she wants to have lunch with me. So we’re having lunch with her and a bunch of other people, and she starts just laying into me: “You emasculated him! How could you be so cruel and rude to him? You know more than he does, you should never have done that!” And I’m like, “Whoa, lady! Look, this is the experience I had. I didn’t sign up for that. What – I’m supposed to lie there and just do what they say?”
That really shook me up and I got very upset and I didn’t really go back to any more OM days after that. But I wasn’t deterred. There was plenty of other men to OM with, so I continued.
The OneTaste philosophy teaches you to get off on any stroke. No matter what the man is doing, you get out of your own way and find the pleasure in it, and I just found this not to be true, because some of my OMs were very icky with other men.
I’d gone to this man’s house in Oakland. He and his wife were in an open relationship, so I didn’t have to worry about him coming onto me or anything. I laid down and we did the OM in his living room, and it just felt like every time I asked for an adjustment, he was a little bit reluctant to stroke lighter. Also, he was moaning a little bit and moving my leg against his cock while we were in the position, and I just thought, “Well, he’s just doing his thing… I’m gonna focus on the sensation, because that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
I just decided to lay there and just take it until it was over. I mean, you can always say no and stop the OM if you want to, that’s allowed. But I was not gonna stop… It was just like, “Okay, this feels weird… Let’s see what happens.”
When it was over I went into the bathroom and I cleaned myself up and I was thinking, “What was that all about?” I went back out there in the living room and I said, “Can I ask you a question? I felt like this weird energy during our OM like you were trying to dominate me.” He said, “Well yes, I do have a dominant personality.” And I thought to myself in my head, “Well, I don’t really wanna OM with this guy ever again… That was really icky.” He wasn’t listening to me, he wasn’t doing what I wanted him to do, on my pussy.
Anyway, I left, and I posted a long essay about it on the OM Hub – there’s a Facebook group. I posted, “Has anybody ever had an icky OM?” and Nicole Daedone herself replied online. She replied with one word: “Ugh!” and I thought, “Yeah, it was icky,” so I said, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Then she said, “Ugh… No, the way you treated this man.” I’m like, “Whoa… What?!” By me accusing him of doing something icky, I was the one in the wrong?
“You should never call anybody icky.”
I started to feel really confused, because I was looking for support in the community, but I was just getting hammered, and other staff people chimed in. So I was like, “Oh, God…” My heart started racing, and I immediately felt ashamed.
But you kept going after that, you kept doing it, right?
Well, I got more and more turned off. The more I involved myself with them in this way where I was kind of one foot in the organization and one foot critical of it, the worse it got, really rapidly.
I was often getting e-mails or text messages or phone calls from staff trying to sell me on things, trying to tell me to come to the next OM thing, or to take the coaching program… I said, “I don’t wanna be a coach,” and they’re like, “Oh, no, no, no… It’s good for deepening your OM practice.”
I was getting tired of them trying to sell all the time. The turn-ons that I was going through, that was the whole purpose – to whip all the new people up into a frenzy, so that they would be open and receptive and willing to plunge in with both feet for a $15,000 class.
$15,000 was the next level. And I would see this happening, people were starting Kickstarter campaigns to fund their coaching program fees. I was like, “What the hell is going on here? This practice should be about the simplicity of listening to a woman, and a woman getting her voice and asking for what she wants.” Instead, it’s become this huge self-help, Tony Robbins-esque, “You can get anything you want if you just take our classes” kind of bullshit.
After I told them off and said, “Quit sending me sales pitches,” then they started ignoring me. I was angry, because OneTaste staff members had shamed me and pushed me out. They had misled me into thinking that they were gonna be there for me and they were my friends, but they were really just trying to get me to buy things, and trying to get me to conform to their philosophies and their way of doing things.
Then one day I went over to someone’s house in San Francisco and he said to me, “Why are you doing the OM practice? Don’t you realize that the OM practice is just a sales tool to get you to buy more classes for this mysterious, elusive orgasm? Why don’t you do your own thing and explore your own sex practices?”
It was like a revelation for me when he said that. I was like, “You know, he’s right. I don’t need to learn OM-ing, I already know it. I don’t need to have strange men put their fingers in my pussy anymore. I already know what I want. What the hell am I doing this for?”
The main turning point was probably around the time I got kicked out of the OM Hub. I was still part of the OM community; I was a very dissident OMer, and I would post on the OM Hub things like “It isn’t right what they’re doing. They shouldn’t be charging all this money. It feels like a cult,” and I got a letter saying, “Julie, I’m afraid what you’re writing is not appropriate from the OM Hub and you’re being removed. If you have any questions about this, you can e-mail me.” And I was like, “Thank you.”
When you posted to the group — I mean, you must have known that that was it, right? Regardless of the truth of your accusations of them… I can’t imagine that they would react in any different way.
Yeah, I knew it was a parting shot. It was my shot across the bow. I thought maybe I could have an argument with people online and talk about it, and convince a few more people, but they got rid of me before that could happen.
How do you feel about OM-ing now?
I don’t do it, I don’t seek it out… If I ever — when (let’s be positive here) I meet a man that I’m attracted to and that I think we have a good connection, I’m nervous about telling him “This is what I’m used to… Do you wanna try it?” [laughs]
They never really explained to the women how to get some dude to do it without it being really weird and tied to their organization.
Well, but you had a sex life before you OM-ed, but it sounds like OneTaste has changed the way you think about your sexuality, or it’s left an imprint on you.
Well, I don’t think I could ever go back to a relationship where sex was thought of as the guy getting off using my body. It has to be a way more two-way street now.
Do you feel like you can demand that more of guys now, or do you feel like you’ve gone back to this thing that’s just like, “Ugh, disappointment”?
Maybe that’s why I haven’t jumped on Tinder or gone back on OkCupid or anything like that, because I know that if I wanna get what I really want, I’m gonna have to have some serious intimacy before sex. Because here’s the thing, you guys: all the people that I did the OM-ing with were already inculcated into the whole OneTaste philosophy by taking the class. They all understood, “Hey, we’re focusing on pleasuring Julie for 20 minutes.”
The idea of just saying that to a guy – and this is my own insecurity speaking, I’ll fully cop to that, that I’m not worthy of somebody spending 20 minutes on me before they stick their cock in me… That’s fucked up, and I still have to work on that. The ability to become intimate enough with somebody and to have that confidence that, “Yeah, this person is really into you, and of course he’s gonna wanna do that” – I don’t have that.
If I’m looking for intimacy, the last thing that I’m gonna do is join a group thing…
I don’t think OneTaste offers any kind of real intimacy. I mean, it was a physical intimacy, but it was decoupled from emotional intimacy. You get together with a man, but then there’s no framework for really delving into your feelings with this partner. You’re supposed to see just one frame of your experience, and then they just go home.
You sound really pissed off at them, but in terms of like… You know, they never bilked you out of like a ton of money, they didn’t take serious advantage of you, as creepy as they were… And I find myself wondering if your frustration with them stemmed out of this idea of like “Oh, they’re identifying and solving an actual problem out there in the world, and instead of solving it, they’re just using it to just make money off people.” Is that an accurate assessment?
Absolutely. That is the great tragedy of OneTaste. They were developing this practice that would be so beautiful to give to men and women, this very simple little practice, and instead they turned it into this huge money-making scheme for themselves, using all the manipulative tools in the book to try to get people hooked in and buying classes and promoting them. And that’s just so fucked up.
I feel like in our country sex education is so superficial, and we get most of our sex education from popular culture, and the men get their sex education from porn… So actually going through a program where you’re taught to interact with women’s pussies, and be respectful, and be polite, and have a contained environment in which to do it that doesn’t automatically lead to sex constantly, that is such a gift. It’s such a gift!
For right now, I’m so glad to be done with OneTaste. In fact, I’m gonna be glad to be done with this story, because it just brings up so much negativity, and I just feel like I’m battling constantly and I’m sick of it.
I have one more question… I don’t know if these guys may ask you other stuff, but why the upper left quadrant?
The upper left quadrant is no different from the upper right quadrant! [laughs] They even had it even more specific, they called it a clock face. I’m like, “It’s not a fucking clock face, okay?! It’s a body part, and you have to explore it, not a freaking clock that you can just do numbers on! Aaargh!” See? My piss-off is still there. [laughs]
* * *
I know what some of the people in your audience are gonna be thinking… They’re thinking like, “This is some white people shit!” [laughter] When I told this story to my black friends, they were like “What the hell?!”