“What is a sex start-up…? I don’t really know,” says Lydia Daniller over the phone from the headquarters of OMGYes, her sex start-up in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project is hard to define, because, like so many important projects, it’s a venture into uncharted territory.
Launched at the tail end of 2015, by Lydia and her friend Rob Perkins, OMGYes is a website that hopes to break the taboos surrounding women’s sexual pleasure by conducting and sharing new research in the field. The field being the female orgasm. Accessed through your browser, the site offers users (for a one-time $39 fee) a library of over 40 interactive, instructional touchscreen videos featuring a cast of real female volunteers. It’s suggested you use it like “a position book from the future.”
Rob and Lydia met 20 years ago at UC Berkeley — Lydia studied comparative literature, Rob studied neuroscience — and their joint project began during a conversation with friends. “We were sharing different stories about sexual pleasure,” says Lydia. “And people got really deep into the details. It was so refreshing. We thought, ‘What if we could collect those insights and get them out to the world?’ Because the taboo around this isn’t helping anybody.”
And so Rob and Lydia partnered with the University of Indiana to conduct a first-of-its-kind survey of over 2,000 women between the ages of 18 and 95. “We asked all sorts of questions — some of them were directly linked to stimulation techniques, sort of them were about general habits, and relationship happiness factors,” they explain.
The results, which they’re sharing in multiple releases of videos (Season One dropped in December), are intended to instruct and benefit both men and women. OMGYes is like “The Bible” from American Pie, but digital, intelligent, and based on the wisdom of real adult women, not fumbling adolescent boys. “We say it’s like a book,” says Rob. “You can read it alone, you can read it with someone. And it’s sort of a spark for exploration and conversation.”
“Sexual pleasure in general — people just have a gut reaction that it’s indecent,” says Rob. “People have this sense deep down that’s improper to be discussed and researched, which is why big institutions have never researched it.”
The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive. But where there are women on the internet, there are trolls. “We actually anticipated more haters,” Lydia laughs. “Of course, there have been some jerk-y responses but that just means we’re doing something right.”