More than a dozen people formerly associated with a wellness company known for “orgasmic meditation” asked a judge to weigh in on a forthcoming Netflix documentary, saying the film should be released without “misappropriated” sexually explicit material that could show them, their lawyer said Wednesday.
A hearing on the request for a temporary restraining order and a demand that Netflix blur or redact imagery in “Orgasm Inc.” is scheduled for Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, lawyer Paul Nicholas Boylan said in an interview.
The documentary, billed as an investigation into allegations about the company, OneTaste, is set to be released Saturday.
In a lawsuit filed late last month, 15 plaintiffs say a former videographer for OneTaste, Chris Kosley, provided sexually explicit videos of private retreats, workshops and classes to a documentary filmmaker.
It isn’t clear whether video showing the plaintiffs, who are identified in the suit as “Doe,” is in the movie.
When the company fired Kosley in 2016, he “misappropriated” the recordings, which had been intended for educational purposes and internal instruction, the suit says.
Kosley, who is named as a defendant, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. A Netflix spokesman declined to comment.
The filmmaker, Sarah Gibson, did not respond to a request for comment. In an interview with a Netflix fan site published Tuesday, Gibson said the video was “legally obtained and much was already public and had been distributed by OneTaste themselves, or on YouTube, or in past news reports.”
“No one’s rights have been violated by the footage we used,” she told the site. “When there was more sensitive footage included, we used it sparingly and took immense care and responsibility to edit and crop as to not exploit or sensationalize it. It was important to convey the large numbers of people attending these activities and use the footage to provide context about the culture of the organization.”
In a petition launched in September demanding “privacy and protection,” more than 400 people who have been affiliated with OneTaste said they were “horrified” to learn Netflix had bought the video without their consent.
“Some of these courses were intimate for us and portions of the material might depict some of us in various stages of undress,” the petition says. “In some cases, this includes extreme closeups of our genitals. Such material should never have been stolen or purchased by anyone, especially Netflix producers.”
The suit describes the plaintiffs as former associates, students and employees of OneTaste.
The group had a “reasonable expectation that their participation in the events would be private and confidential,” the suit states. “None of the Plaintiffs would have participated in any of the events or allowed themselves to be video recorded if they knew there was any possibility that the materials could, or would, be distributed to anyone for any purpose.”
In a statement Wednesday, OneTaste CEO Anjuli Ayer described the people “standing up to Netflix” as “brave and powerful.”
“I join them to call on Netflix to not go forward with a project so fundamentally flawed,” Ayer said.
OneTaste was founded in 2005 to promote what the company describes as a “desire-based life.”
A 2020 podcast series by the BBC described it as an “orgasm cult.” In a 2018 story that cited former staffers and community members, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that OneTaste resembled “a kind of prostitution ring — one that exploited trauma victims and others searching for healing.”