First off, I want to say that I have found much of value on this site in general, in fact I have quoted one of the RickRoss threads in my own expose of self-styled "guru" Andrew Cohen, on my blog:
I want to start a new message for the following thread:
In order that it not get lost in the shuffle, as I am finding much misinterpretation of otherwise accurate information in this thread, along with some actual misinformation, both about Victor Baranco and the Lafayette Morehouse, and about One Taste and Nicole Daedone . I am very well acquainted with the Lafayette Morehouse, and I do have reliable second-hand information about One Taste, and I would like to share this.
First, the Wikipedia article on the Lafayette Morehouse is totally factual and quite objective:
It was written by someone who had been a teenager at a local (Lafayette / Morinda) high-school. Local teenagers have been trespassing and harassing residents of the Lafayette Morehouse for years, out of both curiosity and bigotism (hatred of anything that is different), which is the reason for the presence of guard shifts there. I have a lot more material for the Lafayette Morehouse Wikipedia article which I will be contributing shortly, as soon as I finish my investigation about some potential copyright issues with my information.
Victor Baranco was a pioneer in sensuality research in the 60s, exploring the possibility of extending the female orgasm. He and his first wife Susie's investigation into this was started, reportedly, by her telling him she was frigid, and by them consulting various therapists who did not give them satisfactory information, which prompted them to begin their own research. They were so successful eventually that she was able to orgasm for over an hour, using a practice called the "do-date", where both partners focus all their attention on the woman's pleasure through manual stimulation of the clitoris. This fundamental practice is what Nicole Daedone and One Taste use in their "Orgasmic meditation".
Later, Baranco himself had a kind of spiritual experience in which he realized the perfection of life, gathered a group around him to found the first Morehouse (group home / commune originally in Oakland) and went on to develop an entire curriculum around group living, communication, sensuality, and man-woman relationships. Much of this curriculum is still taught at the Lafayette Morehouse and at other hosts in New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. These concepts have to do with the inherent perfection of life, the importance of pleasure goals in living a full life, the nature of effective communication, the nature of man-woman relationships (which includes many practical aspects on learning how to please your partner and win with the opposite sex), effective governance structures for communal living (the “One No Vote”), and expansion of orgasmic potential for both men and women. Vic had many students who later became well-known using his materials, as he never attempted to limit people from using what they had learned from him. Former students of his include Bob and Leah Schwartz (author of “The One Hour Orgasm”), Regena Thomashauer (founder of “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts”), Patricia Taylor (author of “Expanded Orgasm”), The Welcomed Consensus (an intentional community in San Francisco), Nicole Daedone , and Steve and Vera Bodansky (authors of many books including “Extended massive orgasm”). Vic was a contemporary of and knew Werner Erhardt and many other figures in the consciousness development movement of the sixties and seventies. (A note about Werner Erhardt by the way - too long to tell in detail here - but the most serious allegations against him were subsequently proven to have been fabricated and funded by L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, who is a genuinely scary figure and who had taken a dislike to Erhardt claiming that he had "stolen" Scientology).
Anyway, this body of teaching is the shared ideological and lifestyle component of the Morehouse lifestyle, which is built not so much on sex and drugs but on civility, acceptance of differences, approval of other people, and love. Victor Baranco has been a profound source of inspiration to the commune that I co-founded with my wife in 2007 (http://trellishouse.org) and we continue to study with and learn from the Lafayette Morehouse.
It is a fact that Vic and his group took a lot of drugs and had a lot of sex. This was the 60's and 70's, remember, and they were running a radical experiment in lifestyle and group living. Vic was controversial for sure - he could be a bit rough sometimes and was nicknamed "the thug buddha" - and he was certainly reclusive. This was partly due to his getting some bad publicity for his sexual research, at a time when it was not allowed to say the word "Vagina" in the public media. However, he has had a profound influence for the better in many many people's lives, he was a person with a profound insight into people's character who was able to call people on their shit very accurately and effectively and in a way that one immediately got the truth of, and I have yet to meet a single person who felt he was taken advantage of or abused (I am sure they must exist, but I just have never met one). Baranco died in 2002 I believe, and he is survived by his second wife Cindy, who lives in the Hawaii Morehouse but who makes frequent visits to Oakland.
The origins of the lawsuit with the San Francisco Chronicle are as follows. Every Morehouse runs a program called a "sanctuary program", which takes in homeless people off the street, or anybody in need including burnt-out professionals, and lodges and feeds them for a time until they can get back on their feet. There was apparently, a very large sanctuary program in Oakland and the neighbors complained and the city acted on the complaints. Why Baranco and his group chose to disobey and/or challenge the city ruling is not clear (perhaps an excessive zeal in civil disobedience which was also typical of the times). Then the San Francisco Chronicle investigated this and wrote what Baranco considered a defaming article, and he initiated a lawsuit against them, which he lost. I cannot speak to the accuracy of this claim, however, Baranco does have my sympathy in the first place for wanting to take care of homeless people.
Nicole Daedone was a direct student of Victor Baranco, and indeed, as someone has pointed out in this thread, most of what she does is directly copied, including “Orgasmic mediation” (which is a “do-date”), her “in groups” (which is a “Mark Group” similar to what they do in the Lafayette Morehouse and what we do at the Trellis Community of Philadelphia), and the live-in communal experience (learning to get along with other people and relating with civility). That she is into self-promotion there can be no doubt, and I think its true that the asking price for residency at One Taste San Franciso is $2000 a week, however, hardly anybody pays that price. She and her senior students teach their own variation of Baranco’s courses in sensuality, communication and man-woman relationships. These courses have been transformational for many people, which following some of the links in the above thread and reading comments about people’s experience of One Taste will confirm. I don’t know her personally but I have heard lots of good things about her from people who have taken her courses. That is most of what I know about her – let the reader come to his or her own conclusions.
The residency experience at One Taste involves twice-daily “Orgasmic meditation” (do-dates) and yoga. One can believe what one wants about the value of sexual encounters outside of committed or intimate relationships, however, there is nothing inherently immoral or inappropriate in this practice, it all depends in the spirit in which it is done, ie whether it is respectful, honest, etc. I believe that Nicole feels sincerely that sexual exploration of this nature is her personal spiritual practice and is of tremendous value, and she is not alone in this belief either, many many tantra teachers and sexual educators share this belief. The "orgasmic meditation" is so-named as it is designed as a meditation on sensual pleasure, something to get out of one's head and into a physically embodied experience of life. Whether one believes this to be of value for oneself or not is not the issue (I personally am a bit sceptical, I would not say this is my path), but there is nothing inherently evil about it either. Like I say, it all depends on the spirit in which it is done, for which I for one am reserving judgment.
I will try and keep up with this thread and post clarifications if there is anything more that I can contribute.