image edited by WI – Photo by Antoine d’Agata/MagnumPhotos
What if we could expand ecstasy, reduce stress and lift depression, all by delaying and extending orgasm?
Perhaps 40 of us, an equal number of men and women, sat on rows of folding metal chairs in a high-ceilinged room in the ground floor of a church in New York’s East Village that had been converted into a community centre. Most were 30-something, good-looking, well-dressed Manhattan professionals. Nicole Daedone, author of the book Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm (2011), and inventor of a sexual technique called ‘Orgasmic Meditation’, walked confidently to the front of the room. She was a tall, attractive, rail-thin woman, with high cheekbones and shoulder-length blonde hair. She wore a black skirt and top that looked sprayed on, and black suede boots with four-inch stiletto heels.
Although this was the first time I was seeing her, I’d been on the track of Daedone and her ilk for some weeks as a journalist. They were part of what Daedone like to call the ‘Slow Sex’ movement, but which I was starting to see as a full-blown orgasm industry, composed of groups and individuals mostly centred in the San Francisco Bay area. All focused on the skill of gently stimulating a woman (or a man) to the edge of climax in order to extend his or her orgasms, and therefore theoretically her ecstasy, past its normal limits. They were connected in that they spoke the same lingo, had identical or similar practices, and appeared to share the same Ur-source. What that source was I wasn’t sure yet, but I was getting close.
By her own admission, Daedone has led something of a chameleon’s life. ‘I have been a magna cum laude academic, a gallery-owner, a stripper, an underworld traveller, and the daughter of a man who died in prison for child molestation,’ she wrote in a blog recently. ‘I have been a postmodern feminist lesbian and a meditation practitioner, a yogini and a mystery-school student.’
She must also have been involved in psychotherapy. In a 2011 TedX talk, Daedone explained how she came to the revelation that something new was needed. ‘Woman after woman was coming through my office,’ she said, ‘chanting what I call the Western Woman’s Mantra: “I work too hard, I eat too much, I diet too much, I drink too much, I shop too much, I give too much, and still there’s this sense of hunger that I can’t touch.”’ I could hear low murmurs of agreement from some of the women in the audience.
‘We have a pleasure deficit disorder in this country,’ she continued. ‘I don’t think it’s medical. I do think it’s a cultural issue. And I do think there is a cure. That cure is orgasm. But it’s going to be a very different definition of orgasm than we know. It’s going to be a definition of orgasm that actually works with a woman’s body.’
As she talked, Daedone made a curling gesture with her right-hand index finger, a finger that knows how to play a woman like a cello. She isn’t currently a lesbian, as her concupiscent personal dating blog makes clear, but she was about to perform on her close friend and lieutenant, Rachel Cherwitz, who was hovering nearby, a pale and thin young woman whose sad eyes were framed by dark, shoulder-length brown hair, calling to mind a melancholy angel in a Pre-Raphaelite painting.
‘In a moment,’ Daedone announced, ‘I will put my finger on the upper left-hand quadrant of Cherwitz’s clitoris; if she were facing you, that’s the one-o’clock position. Both she and I will be putting our attention on the same point. It’s a fairly intense point, mind you. And then, just like a master chess player absorbed in a game, or a meditator absorbed in his breathing, you’ll see her get absorbed into that place. The difference is that she will be there with a partner. She will be allowed to have this most profound and deep experience with another human being.’
Her followers don’t call her ‘the Jimi Hendrix of strokers’ for nothing
We in the audience made awkward small talk as Daedone’s assistants set up a padded massage table strewn with upholstered pillows. Quietly averting her eyes, Cherwitz stripped off her trousers, and then her underpants. She climbed up on the table to sit facing us, and then gracefully swooned back until her head touched the bolsters, allowing her pale thighs to butterfly open with her knees bent, so that her feet almost touched. One does not often see such an unashamed public display of intimate nakedness in New York City. At Daedone’s invitation, the more adventurous of us crowded in a little closer, and as Cherwitz shifted her hips to get comfortable, the collective pulse quickened. Daedone hooked some lubricant into the crook of her finger and put a gob on her forearm. The lubricant she uses is a specially concocted slippery blend of olive oil, beeswax, shea butter and grapeseed oil…