"I think that when you actually have raw intimacy, it isn’t sex, it isn’t romance, and it isn’t spirituality — it's just a pure connection."
This is the first in a four-part series of interviews I had with Nicole Daedone, who is emerging as the leader of the slow-sex movement and who founded the OneTaste urban retreat center in San Francisco. OneTaste invites men and women to learn about mindful sexuality by participating in workshops, yoga, and (for residents only) controversial "OMing" sessions in which men stroke women to orgasm during daily morning sessions. To read the first part of the interview and to see a Nightline segment on OneTaste, OMing sessions and Nicole,
TrèsSugar: What is the goal of the OneTaste retreat center?
Nicole Daedone: I get apprehensive about using the word "revolutionize," but it's to revolutionize the way we look at sex. I think that we've gotten extremely distant from the actual "it" that it is and that it's gotten kind of pathological the further away we've gotten away from the source of it. That's why I like the idea of slow sex. You know, in the same way that we've industrialized food, we've industrialized sex. We've lost the meaning and the meaning really is simple: it's the most elemental energy that allows two people to come together and tune into their own body at the same time, which is a pretty profound thing. I think that we've lost track of that.
TS: In the age of the Internet and easily accessible fast food sex, I could see why slow sex would be important. But I was really struck by a comment on your website when you say that romance and all the expectations around it can also get in the way. I think a lot of heterosexual women feel, "I try to have sex to connect with this person, and sometimes the man is using sex to disconnect from me." So I was curious how you think that women's ideas about romance might actually create a problem, too.
ND: My experience is that romance is, to put it in Buddhist terms, the "near friend." It's when it's so close but it's not the "it" that you're looking for — but it's enough to keep yourself comfortable. And that if you go to the deeper, value-neutral sexuality, you can have romance as a byproduct. But if you go to romance, you aren’t going all the way and you don’t get the value-neutral energy that you can use the sexuality for. And so what I’m interested in is having people go to the raw, rich, nutrient place of sexuality and then learn how to use it for a deeper purpose.
TS: So you would say that the romance part is a delusion in a way?
ND: I don’t know that it's a delusion, but I think that it can be an obstacle in that it can be misused as a means of actually decreasing intimacy. So if I have this idea about who you are and I just keep trying to stuff you into that idea, and not actually discover who you are or have curiosity, that's the biggest danger of romance, that I have an idea of what I want and I keep trying to fit you into it. I don’t relate to the parts of you that don't correspond with the idea.
TS: We're so used to pathologizing male sexuality ("all they’re looking for is sex" or something like that) that I think there is a way in which we don't think about how, for some women, "all they’re looking for is romance" and that, too, may rob them of a true experience with the person.
ND: Exactly. I think that when you actually have raw intimacy, it isn't sex, it isn't romance, and it isn't spirituality — it's just a pure connection.