I can’t believe it’s been five years since we reviewed Jeff Nichols’ delightful memoir Trainwreck and the movie that was based on it. A former stand-up comedian, Nichols is the very first to admit that he has a wide variety of problems: emotional, psychological, chemical (and really what better qualifications are there for a humorist?).
Nichols’ slim new novella OM: A Tantric Sex Cult Odyssey is a funny new update to his whereabouts, a thinly veiled account of what are clearly true events (though novellas are usually categorized as fiction, his main character is named “Jeff”), it tells of a time in which he got involved with the titular Tantric Sex Cult, which propagates a practice known as “Orgasmic Meditation” or OM. Like most healthy, normal heterosexual males, he does this merely looking to get laid, but ironically finds himself in a bizarre topsy-turvy world where the straight man’s orgasm is the last item on anyone’s agenda — in fact, it’s not on the agenda at all. He finds himself in the hilarious predicament of being stuck in a number of all day classes, workshops and retreats where all the participants are taught to mechanically stimulate the clitorises of women. The end result is that he keeps being swindled and pressured into pleasuring a series of strange ladies, while the actual female he seeks to bed (the one who insists that he take these workshops) remains constantly out of reach.
The book is almost “stream-of-conscious” (in some places lacking even punctuation) and Nichols’ voice as a storyteller is very strong — so much so that I feel this would make a terrific one man show, part stand-up, part theatrical thrill ride. There is an absurdist quality to the events that give it a profundity: joining a sex cult in pursuit of sex, and really achieving anything BUT satisfaction in that area. And while his character launches the journey in a skeptical and crude frame of mind, it gradually becomes touching when he finds what he doesn’t know what he was looking for — a connection with another human being.
My wildest take-away from reading this book came when I had finished reading it and did a Google search. It turns out that this is a real thing. There is an entire off-the-rails New Age cult where practitioners learn a form of Hindu worship (“like Yoga, or Pilates” they advertise) where they are taught to put on latex gloves, apply lubricant, and stroke the upper left quadrant of strange women’s clitorises in strict fifteen minute sessions. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, believe the female orgasm is the solution to all of mankind’s problems. But, perhaps, not in the classroom with an egg timer going.
Jeff Nichols’ book is available here.