Episode 4: The Making of an Urban Retreat Center. Through the eyes of Robert Kandell.

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Robert Kandell had all the trappings of a successful life a house, a wife, a good salary and career when he decided to take his first sensuality class. Within a few years, he would drop everything to open OneTaste Urban Retreat Center, a place dedicated to conscious sensuality. In this episode, Robert tells the story of growing up in a wealthy Long Island neighborhood and following a corporate career path that many would have envied. He relates how at one point, he came to realize that he was working too many hours, didn’t love his job and didn’t really know his wife.

Transcript

The Making of an Urban Retreat Center. Through the eyes of Robert Kandell.

Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.

[music]

Bob G.: Hello, and welcome to A Taste of Sex, a reality audio show on life in an orgasm-based community. I'm your host Bob G..

This series is a peek into the private lives of the world's leading experts in orgasmic innovation at the OneTaste™ Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, California.

On this episode, we'll hear from Robert Kandell, who along with Nicole Deadone, founded OneTaste™, a business and growing residential community that helps men and women explore their sensuality. Tune in and turn on.

[Music]

Bob G.: Robert talks about the successful corporate life he led before OneTaste™ and why he decided to leave it. He tells the story of how he first met Nicole and the noticeable impression she made. He relates the frenzied building of OneTaste™ that led to its opening in July 2004.

[Music]

Robert Kandell: There is this part, and I still have it, as many people know it, that can work, that can be a good son, that can be a model American citizen, that can spout the 10 Commandments and who can do all those things. That's not a bad thing.

But there is this other part. I kind of look at it as my joyful side or my young side or this side of me that just wanted to play. I shut that down for myself from before high school. I just motored from college to graduate school to working with no breaks in between. I just went from thing to thing, searching for what I thought I wanted, which was material success and attention from women and power and to please myself and make myself successful by all the things that I thought were successful.

But the other part of me, the part that wanted to learn about people and wanted to learn about my own emotions, all those parts had been pretty much ignored.

I grew up in New York, Long Island specifically, on the upper North Shore of Long Island, one of the top highest echelons of neighborhoods. I didn't know it at the time though. I was raised by two rather conservative Jewish people, my mother and my father. My father was a successful businessman and loved his business.

And I actually ended up in one of the better high schools, which actually, in hindsight, really pushed me forward a lot in a lot of directions. So I had a lot of great advantages growing up that helped me.

I went from New York and then I ended up at school in Los Angeles. I always joked it was the furthest I could get from New York without going to Hawaii. But it was a great school. I went to USC and got into their engineering school. I worked long hours and loved it. I loved the science and I loved the theory. I ended up a biomedical engineer, which was totally interesting to me, because it was the science of the body, which was much more interesting than the science of bridges and metals.

The intricacies of the human body were fascinating. I had some great teachers, which made it even more fun. So I decided instead of going to work right after college, I ended up in Philadelphia for graduate school. That was probably the most pivotal change in my life, going to Philadelphia.

I went there with a girlfriend, and then promptly broke up with her and ended up in Philadelphia by myself. I had to start over with my life in a way. I ended up working in the restaurant as a bartender and going to graduate school for biomedical engineering and writing a thesis and having a wild social life hanging out with a lot of restaurant people.

But that was the point where I made the decision in my life that I didn't want to be an engineer. I didn't want to end up in some static place. I wanted to keep trying new things. I met my future wife, and she was completely different from me in all ways. She started to teach me that there was this whole other side of life rather than just engineering and school and work.

She opened me a lot. So we ended up in San Francisco together after I graduated. This was back in ‘94. I came to San Francisco, unknowingly at the perfect timing for the whole computer boom.

I got my first job south of Market, pretty close to OneTaste™ actually, at this very small, rinky-dink computer bar that actually created a lot of neat things. I was on the cutting edge of the whole computer industry, researching things that had just come off the shelf and learning all these great things.

From there I went to corporate America, right at the start of the dot com era. I went to a place in the Transamerica building and started this incredible riot of about five years of working in corporate America.

In ‘99, right before I went off on my own consulting, I came to a flash that I was really turning into a role that my father had set me. In effect, I was really turning into the man I thought he wanted me to be. There are these times in life when I take inventory. At that point I took a strong inventory of my life and I realized that I was working a lot of hours. I was not particularly loving my job anymore. I was extremely distant from my wife, who I didn't know. And I thought all of it was normal.

And yet there was this little ache inside of me that there was something different that was possible. But of course, I didn't know what it was until we ended up in Burning Man. When my wife asked me, “Do you want to go to Burning Man?” I thought, “What are you, crazy? Those are for the other people. They are for the hippies and massage people.” She was in massage school.

And then something inside of me said, “Go for it. Try it. See if you like it.” I was so naïve around sex. I had had a very few lovers, very few sex partners in my life. At that point I had been married for over three years, and making out with other people wasn't a possibility. It was a fantasy. And I watched porn and I read porn, and I thought about other women. I just never knew there was an avenue to discuss it.

At that Burning Man, one night, we walked around for about three hours and had the most honest conversation around sex we ever had. I think I said something like, “I don't know how to say this but I don't know if you're the last woman I want to kiss in my life.” And she said, “You know what? You might not be the last guy I want to kiss in my life.”

From there the honesty sparked more honesty. We said, “OK. Let's experiment.” And we ended up - this is really embarrassing - about six months later we went to this swingers club in San Jose. The end of that story was, we got into the car and I turned to her and I said, “I never want to do that again.”

There was titillation, but it wasn't what I wanted. There was something else. I was at work, and the phone ring and she said, “Hey, it's me. How would you feel about taking a sex course with this guy I met through a friend that massage school?” I think my immediate response was yes. Then the second response was, “What did I just agree to?”

About a week or 10 days later, we ended up at this course at this house up in Marin. And I remember feeling so turned on and so nervous and so just out of my element. And all these fantasies were there.

The course started and we were going along. In the first half an hour, in the introductions, I did my introduction. I said some things, and I was so nervous. And I was very arrogant and very boisterous. The teacher, sharp as a whip, turned to me and said after my little run, my little soliloquy of information, he said to me, “Do you know that your wife is crying?”

I turned to her and I hadn't realized it, that my words had hurt her so much, or offended her, whatever, that she was crying. I hadn't noticed. And that moment the words flashed in my mind, “There is so much more for me to learn.” It was a humbling moment, but it was one of those moments that again changed my life. I embarked on this adventure of education and learning.

I wanted to know what made women tick. I wanted to know why I did what I did with women. I wanted to know about sex. I wanted to connect. And I wanted to make out. I wanted to have fun. I wanted to have experiences. That was really where things started to shift even more, where I was moving faster and faster out of the corporate America suit and tie world into the world of sensuality classes.

Bob G.: You are listening to A Taste of Sex, a reality audio show on life in an orgasm-based community. We'll be back after a short break to hear more from Robert Kandell, cofounder of OneTaste™ Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco, California.

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[Commercial]

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Bob G.: You are listening to A Taste of Sex, a reality audio show on life in an orgasm-based community. On this episode, OneTaste™, cofounder Robert Kandell talks about the opening of OneTaste™.

Robert Kandell: So I quit my suit and tie every day, jacket every day gig and I went off on my own. We started hosting groups at our house, the first week of December, the first Thursday of December 1999, this woman walks in, through our front door. She is noticeable. She walks in with her rock 'n roll boyfriend in tow, and she walks in like she owns the place. I find out later that her name is Nicole.

You have those moments in time when you noticed someone walked in the door and you know there is something special about them? Well that was it. For the next two or three months we were taking the same intense course with our sensuality teachers. We were getting to know each other and we were learning about each other. Some deep friendship started to form in those two or three months. We just click in a way that is undeniable and mysterious at the same time.

So we spent the next year and a half together until September 2001 in the same community, the same group. There was myself and my ex-wife, my soon-to-be ex-wife and Nicole and about a dozen other people. At one point she turned to me and said, “I think I'm done with this experience. Do you want to go off on another adventure with me?”

I had no idea that there would be a center in San Francisco at that point. I had no idea that we would be having this large community. I didn't know. But all I knew was that there was something happening and if I had faith and if I rode this wave without quitting, there was something on the other side.

There are so many places in the world where you can explore your religious self, your physical self, your emotional self, and your spiritual self. There are none, to my awareness, places to explore your sensual self and talk about sex. I had this notion that you could go to work and you can complain about your heartaches and your problem with your mother, but you cannot talk about the last great make out you had. There is just something wrong about that.

We ended up in February of 2004 doing a demonstration of a woman in orgasm and launching a group called the Insight Institute, which is the predecessor to OneTaste™. We started teaching courses together and about three weeks later I came home, I believe was a Sunday. I go up to her room and she says, “Rob, I had a flash.” I said, “OK.” She said, “I think it's time to open the center.”

Now, we had talked about the center a couple of times, maybe as little as a half a dozen times over the four or five years we had known each other at that point. It was always in the back of my mind, but never one that I thought. I said, “OK.”

She gave me this long laundry list of things she wanted. She wanted south of Market. She wanted eco-friendly and hardwood floors on the second floor and concrete on the first floor and a few other specs and all at a reasonable price. My first thought was, “You're crazy. We are never going to find that. You’re nuts. But hey, I'm in.”

And then two days later, a Tuesday, I remember the night, she called up and said, “I found it.” “Found what?” “I found the center.” Two days later, on Craig's list, she found it. About three or four days after that, we met the owner. We didn't look at any other place. He didn't show it to anyone else. And we had found the current location of OneTaste™.

The place was beautiful when we started. There's no question about it. It had all these great features, but there was so much to do. So basically, every day, starting June 1, until about July 31, all 12 of us worked nonstop to set the place up. We made all these mistakes. It took four times to paint the walls and three times to paint the floors. Nicole and I would wake up and drive around the city all day looking for the pieces that would make up OneTaste™.

We went all out on the opening party. We just believe that this OneTaste™ was special and so why wouldn't people want to come to the opening party? There were so many people. I think close to 500 if not 600 people walked through our doors that night, which was right on target. So we knew we had hit something there.

I think we might have gotten a little cocky after that party. It was quiet. It was very, very quiet. We had to learn a whole other skill of patience. I knew that we were in the long haul, that we weren't kidding ourselves that we were going to be successful on the second day or third day. I had no idea that there would be 54 people living in our community, a mere 2 1/2 years later. I had no idea about the magnitude of it, but I knew that this was something special and I was going to give all of myself to it.

OneTaste™ is a place where people can come and talk about sex in open forums, where judgments happen but much less than out there in the world. It's a place where people can ask the questions they really want to know and talk about fetishes and talk about desires and dreams without ever having to do them. But just get a chance to talk about them and throughout the years of watching hundreds if not thousands of people come in through the door and have the experience of someone saying it's OK to have that desire. It's really OK. To watch their reaction to that, just the way I had my reaction - that's what OneTaste™ is. It's for people to say what they want. And for people to hear it.

We have clicked on something magical. And we have an incredible community of brilliant, dedicated people, bringing this message out. We have something so special in the people we have and the dedication to it that it blows my mind pretty much every day.

We have also a beautiful space in a beautiful place to live in abundance and it is just going to keep going. The whole Internet, which is my field - I'm a geek, I'm a computer guy - we get to create a whole OneTaste™ world online, which is going to be so much fun. And again I am blessed with some amazing people to work with that know so much more than I do. Then I can throw in my ideas, and they can throw their ideas in and we can create something that just will change the world.

Bob G.: You have been listening to A Taste of Sex - a reality audio show on life in an orgasm-based community. Today we spoke with cofounder Robert Kandell.

You can listen to more podcasts at personallifemedia.com and learn more about OneTaste™ Urban Retreat Center at onetastesf.com. Thanks for listening.

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Announcer: Find more great shows like this on personallifemedia.com