Friday 17 November 2023

Movie review: Orgasm Inc, The Story of OneTaste, dirs Sarah Gibson and Sloane Klevin (2022)

An unlikely but strangely compelling documentary about a business/cult in San Francisco in the teens of this century called OneTaste. It’s difficult to identify ways to talk about this movie without seeming to be overly judgemental but the filmmakers have provided a comprehensive overview of a dysfunctional organisation. In my view all organisations are dysfunctional in that they always decline to respect the needs of all employees/participants, but OneTaste is a case study in disrespect.

Founded as a vehicle for the ideas of one person named Nicole Daedone who drew people looking for a way to get rich in the Silicon Valley ecosystem of startups to be involved in the organisation. The central focus of the group was a thing they called “orgasmic meditation” (OM) and now that OneTaste has been disbanded the practice continues through an organisation called the Institute of OM.

So far so good.

I mean it’s not hard to believe that in the world of Silicon Valley someone might come along hoping to disrupt the orgasm, right? They did it with everything else. And the number of companies that have failed in Silicon Valley surely outstrips the few that have survived and prospered.

But what appealed to me about ‘Orgasm Inc’ was the way in which a fairly esoteric and strange idea can warp the very nature of the organisation until it becomes so toxic that the FBI gets involved. When you try to monetise something as basic as sex you either get exploitation in the form of sex work or else you get OneTaste, where employees were treated very badly.

I was entranced by the reality TV jive of ‘Orgasm Inc’, it’s sort of a cross between a newscast and ‘My Mum Your Dad’ with a satanic twist to make it compulsively watchable. Seeing how fundamental ideas about self, satisfaction, fulfilment are dragged into the world of transactions – you give me $60,000 and we’ll give you absolute satisfaction – is utterly engrossing because something that hinges upon the most intimate and almost sacred moments of a person’s life is turned into a commodity to be bought at a price.

‘Orgasm Inc’ is a sad tale but we can take comfort in knowing that once tried it will probably never be attempted again. At least in this form. Nobody will again try to lure vulnerable and hopeful people to part with their money on the promise of giving them something rare and beautiful. Right? 

Right ……?

No comments: