Not far into her book Slow Sex, Nicole Daedone recounts the story of the first time she ever tasted a home-grown heirloom tomato. She was ten years old, and recalls that she’d previously known tomatoes only as things to be sliced and put on a plate. But this was different —
“I bit in and I understood. Rich, earthy, dense. The taste of minerals. . . It was as if this tomato had a built-in speed limit. It was not possible to eat it quickly and forget about it.”
And so this revelation — “that there were tomatoes on this planet that were worth your time. Tomatoes that begged to be really tasted — that asked you to plug into them with all your attention and all of your senses. Tomatoes that offered the richness of the earth and sky in return.”
. . . Doesn’t take much imagination to see where one might apply this to sex, does it?
One rainy Friday afternoon in mid-summer, I went to speak with Daedone, who was visiting New York City to lead a series of sexuality workshops. A former professor of semantics, Daedone now devotes herself full-time to teaching what must be one of the world’s oddest sex practices.
At Daedone’s OneTaste center in San Francisco, and at the many workshops she conducts around the country, women gather together to cultivate sexual mindfulness while receiving direct clitoral stimulation – each woman from a partner. Fifteen minutes per group session, no more and no less.
Not to achieve sexual climax necessarily, although that sometimes happens. Rather, just to practice sexual attention for its own sake. Giving this gift of the earth and sky the respect it deserves.
It’s a technique Daedone herself has practiced for many years. It’s definitely not mainstream sex therapy. But it’s not entirely alien to it in spirit either. After all, for years we sex therapists have been trying to help our clients experience sexual arousal for its own sake — rather than in pursuit of performance goals.
Daedone’s technique takes this idea to another level entirely. As she writes in her book , “You don’t know where you’re going and the results aren’t guaranteed. You open yourself, and the answers come through you.”
The practice has a somewhat mystical dimension. She is a controversial figure in sex therapy circles. And some of her techniques would be forbidden in most major religious traditions.
But since an article in The New York Times describing her work, Daedone has attracted a devoted following of individuals and couples seeking to cross beyond the ordinary boundaries of erotic life.
In subsequent blog articles, I’ll share with you some of my conversation with Nicole about what happens when someone commits to practicing sexual attention for its own sake.
It’s pretty dreamy stuff. At least by the standards of my 21st century Manhattan, where we don’t do anything slow anymore.
But for me, if someone says they’ve spent many years learning to taste the richness of the earth and sky — I for one am going to listen.
So let’s see what this is all about.