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Words Dom Passantino

Welcome to a fantasyland populated by lesbians, where there are no men, and gender
roles are instead defined by hair colour. The citizens of Aristasia have a
pathological hatred of modern life, particularly feminists (their own personal
bêtes noirs), and, as such, refuse to engage with any culture (clothing, language,
music) post-1963. Throw in ties to the British National Party, allegations of
racism and anti-semitism, white-power symbolism, S&M beatings so bad they result
in criminal convictions, the worship of a Sun goddess, and sexualisation to the
point of fetish of schoolgirls, and you know you’re in Aristasia.

As with the majority of things that make little sense, it all begins at Oxbridge.
Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, to be precise, where, in the late 1960s, an academic
who went by the sobriquet Hester St Clare became patron to a group of
disenfranchised lesbian students. Alternating between the names The Romantics and
The Olympians, they felt uncomfortable with the direction Britain had taken over
the past decade, seeing the cultural shifts of the 1960s as a collapse of moral
and social standards (known in Aristasian parlance as ‘The Eclipse’). Slowly
putting together a manifesto dedicated to bringing back the 'dignity’ of the early
20th century, the students and St Clare eventually dropped out of Oxford to form
their own university dedicated to Aristasian studies, known as Milchford.
They quickly came to establish that in this new land of Aristasia, there would be
no men. Instead, traditional ‘male’ roles, such as those of leaders, businessmen
and so on, would be taken by brunettes, while blondes would be left to perform the
work of artists and homemakers. Also, the term ‘Aristasia’ came to signify one of
two things: either Aristasia Pura, the fantasy world devoid of male presence in
which Aristasians roleplay; and Aristasia-In-Telluria, an attempt to recreate this
world in real life via vintage cars, games of croquet, and hot lesbian sex.
Aristasia Pura has a number of ‘continents’ on which inhabitants may either be
born or live, and each one is symbolic of a different ‘acceptable’ decade. Thus,
‘Quirinelle’ has the fashions and culture of the 1950s, while ‘Vintesse’ belongs
to the jazz era. There are also outreach islands known as ‘Infra-Quirinelle’,
which contain certain aspects of the early 1960s, but the Aristasians’ website
makes it quite clear what isn't acceptable on those green and pleasant shores:
“Pop Art fashions, popular music beyond the style of the earlier 60s, anything
that smacks of the ‘hippie’ or ‘Carnaby Street’ or ‘Beatles’ ethos”. They've
created a fantasy world where the enemies are Peter Sarstedt and the 6-5 Special.
Membership to Aristasia isn't a uniform thing, and followers can choose the
strength of their allegiance depending on which of the four ‘rings’ they belong
to. There's the Outer Circle, who just act as Aristasians online. The Third
Circle: women who live an Aristasian lifestyle, but do so in Telluria. The Second
Circle, who inhabit Aristasian commune-style households, but still have
commitments (ie, jobs) in the real world. And the Inner Circle, an invitation-only
cabal of women who have cut off all obligations to the real world to live a fully
Aristasian lifestyle. The Inner Circle is believed to nowadays be in the low
double figures, although Outer Circle membership is at its highest point in

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Aristasia first made a major impression on the wider public back in 1996, when
Channel 4 screened the documentary <A Weekend At Miss Martindale's> (as in
Marianne Martindale, arguably the most famous Aristasian, and undoubtedly the most
controversial). The program ostensibly dealt with the first weekend spent by three
new recruits at an Aristasian country outpost, but was instead just a series of
spanking scenes loosely linked by scenes of 1950s-lifestyle fantasy: a housemaid
gets violently paddled six times for incorrectly folding napkins; an adult woman
in a schoolgirl outfit receives several brutal, full-strength lashes from a
leather strap; another maid is bent over Martindale's knee and given a series of
slaps across the arse for no particular reason.

Indeed, it is this portrayal of Aristasia as a kind of <Story Of O> penned by Enid

Blyton that has become its endearing mainstream image, and it is an image that
clearly rankles with Aristasians. Ulalua Serendra, a devout Aristasian, claims to
have been born an Aristasian upon the continent of Novaria. She says the biggest
misconception regarding Aristasia is that “we have anything to do with S&M. Of
course, some earlier Aristasians played up to the discipline angle for reasons of
their own, but even so, if you read what they said about S&M or see Miss
Martindale's television interviews, you see that the idea of spanking as
‘gratification’ was always terribly strongly opposed.”

This is certainly an arguable point. One of the more popular Aristasian websites
goes by the name The Wildfire Club, which prides itself as being a one-stop shop
“dedicated to the discipline of females by females”. It offers literature for
sale, such as <The Female Disciplinary Manual> – “The book is written by ladies
who have long practical experience of the disciplinary arts. What Mrs. Beeton did
for household management, they have done for the gentle craft of punishment”– and
<The District Governess> (which they admit, with maybe a little too much honesty,
“centres on the theme of discipline — largely for commercial reasons”). There's
also a wide series of goodies up for sale, from “genuine traditional English
school canes” through to “authentic Scottish tawses” (leather straps used mainly
to punish children), and even navy-blue regulation schoolgirl knickers. All items
are accompanied by lovingly shot items being used at full strength on an exposed
schoolgirl's backside.
The Wildfire Club also helps to promote the Avendale School for Girls, a
schoolgirl-roleplay group that meets in London once a week. Aristasia-specific
lessons are given in French, Latin, Spanish, maths, history, geography, Chinese
studies, linguistics, English lit, diction, and music, but for those who are
attending class for reasons other than the desire to conjugate a few verbs,
they're keen to point out that “a girl may bring a ‘note from her mother’ if
discipline is specially required”.

Marianne Martindale has done her best to keep Aristasia in the newspapers over the
years, although not always for the most positive of reasons. Earning herself a
wage in Telluria as both a fashion critic and a promoter of fetish club nights, in
1992 she earned a criminal conviction for Actual Bodily Harm, as the result of a
severe birching she gave to another woman who was in residence at her house at the
time. During summation of the case, the judge expressed disbelief that, after the
assault, the woman remained in Martindale's home for a further 18 months.

Also, in 1995 <The Guardian> made public evidence of an ongoing correspondence

between Martindale and John Tyndall, the founder member, and former leader, of the
British National Party. Tyndall was a large fan of Aristasia, going as far to say
of Martindale's work: “I admire what you are doing to the point of fascination.”
Her reasoned and damage-limiting response to this was to point out that she
couldn't be a fascist, because she had “no interest in democracy”.

It's not the first time Aristasians had been accused of, at best, casual racism,
and at worst, something a lot more sinister. Their use of the term “empire” to
describe Aristasia, and those days before the decline, brings to mind The League
of Empire Loyalists, the right-wing Conservative Party splinter group of which
Tyndall was a long-time member. They use the term “bongo” to describe the
“uncultured” aspects of modern society, and an article from one of their magazines
describes a hip-hop club night as resembling “gorillas in jeans gyrating to noises
that sound as if they have been produced by African headhunters”. While these
descriptions could be considered gentle coincidence, they take on a more sinister
overtone when you consider other factors. Such as how, in early 2005, hovering
your cursor over a link on their webpage brought up a hidden picture of the Cross
of Odin, a piece of insignia designed by the KKK and since popularised in the UK
by, among others, the National Front and white-power band Skrewdriver. And the
central text of Aristasia, Regina Snow's book <Children Of The Void>, blames the
cultural descent of Telluria upon “manipulators of international capital”, a
direct echo of Henry Ford's famous statement that “the motion picture influence of
the United States, of the whole world, is exclusively under the control, moral and
financial, of the Jewish manipulators of the public mind."
Even when rebutting allegations of racism, Aristasians do it not from a moral
standpoint, rather a philosophical one. Serendra notes: “Racialism as a doctrine –
as for example in Nazi Germany seems to be a democratisation of a very vaguely
aristocratic idea. Aristocracy for the masses – ‘You can all be masters’. This is
very far from the Aristasian ideal. We don't believe in democratisation, of
turning aristocracy into a mass-movement.” While Aristasians may not be racist per
se, they do have severe problems with the working class. Continues Serendra, “One
is opposed to the proletarianisation of society… it is a question of the loss of
the remnants of a noble or Ruler-Estate, which was the core of England until the
Speaking to Aristasians is an exhausting process; their language shuns modern
terms (“ordinator” instead of computer, “elektraspace” instead of internet), is
vocalised in clipped tones which occasionally veer from 1930s schoolmarm into a
kind of cartoon Italian, and contains a stream of obscure slang terms (see panel).
It's this kind of goofiness that makes it hard to ‘believe’ in Aristasians,
despite their thought-out philosophy, and their own specific religion (a pledge of
allegiance to a Sun goddess). However, shortly after interviewing them, I received
an email from a member by the name of Sushuri Madonna, a ‘blonde’ who had spent
the majority of the time I spoke to her gadding around like a 13-year-old on a
sugar rush.

“I was thinking about the discussion and it strikes me that the key to why
Aristasians and Tellurians can have misunderstandings about various ‘current
issues’ is that Tellurians often do not realise that Aristasians take Pura much
more seriously that they think possible. To them it is a fiction, but many
Aristasians really believe in Pura, not only as a reality, but also as the Empire
to which they owe their loyalty and from which they take their orders. It is
probably not an exaggeration to say the most committed Aristasian has given up
being human. Her loyalties are entirely with the intermorphic, all-feminine race
of Aristasia Pura.”

And it's this information that's hard to take in for an outsider: for all its
politics, controversies, philosophies and followers, Aristasia just looks like one
massive roleplaying scenario, a <World Of Warcraft> for those with a cigarette
holder in one hand and a birch twig in the other. But then again, as one anonymous
poster pointed out to the internet: “Aristasia is a game. But then schools,
corporations, armies, nations are all games. They happen to be bigger and
wealthier games than ours. But ours is better.”

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