logging onto Aristasia Online

logging onto to Aristasia online...?!

This page is a skeleton of sorts, and the vast majority of the material will be filled in at a later date. This part of the history section, beginning in the late 1990s, describes an era when Aristasia gradually shifted from an offline movement to one with a primarily online basis.

This area of the site will include material from my own time in Aristasia (online) so to speak, rather than just research I’ve done into Aristasia’s strange past.

Others have assumed (apparently, seemingly) that these interactions (Aristasia online, for example, in Second Life) took a similar tenor to prior incarnations of the movement. This really isn’t the case, though, and online Aristasia was problematic in ways that (for example) Rhennes was not, and charming in ways that older groups were certainly not.

In other words, I’d argue that while the entire movement changed rapidly during this time, it didn’t “reform” or “fix itself” - it just transformed. It became more likeable in certain ways, at least to someone like me. Though some problems did vanish or become less prominent, others took center stage. I’ve got memories of this era of Aristasia that I somewhat treasure; others that aren’t as good. I hope to explore all that, and more, on this page, ultimately.

1990s: The London Embassy

A “true blue” story posted on a page about Avenbridge School in London.
A “true blue” story posted on a page about Avenbridge School in London.

This was not (strictly) an online affair, but was advertised so heavily online that I include it here. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Aristasians maintained a household designated as an “embassy” in London (an apt location, I must say).

This was, apparently, in addition to the involvement of several other households, some of whom maintained websites separate from the main Aristasian site itself, including one that was, oddly, tiger-themed.

The embassy itself would post stories of things that had (apparently) actually happened offline in blue text (“It’s in blue because it’s true!”). Often these were about small parties and events held by the group.

Events at the embassy included small parties and movie showings, as well as a weekly “life theatre” school set in Aristasia. Avenbridge School featured… you guessed it, physical discipline (as well as apparently real lessons in French, Latin, and other subjects). The London Aristasian Embassy closed in the mid-2000s.

Future additions to this section will include some screenshots of material produced by, and promoting events at the London Aristasian Embassy, as well as a few (figureless) photos of the embassy’s interior culled from news reports.

I’ll also be talking about how my impressions of what Aristasian communities in London were like might well have differed from how they really operated. Admittedly, I have no way of knowing, but this portion does raise interesting issues regarding how things are presented online versus how they might actually be occurring.

Y2K: Elektraspace

A screenshot from a very early Aristasia-themed website.
A screenshot from an ancient Aristasia-themed website from the late 1990s.

I confess that I was poking around a number of groups at that time that fell into the “alt.sex” category. One day there appeared a message on the femdom group about a Feminine Empire where only girls were allowed, and that I must jump through the “shimmering portal” quickly as it would close in short order. There was a URL, which was a thing of which I had only become aware within a year or so of that fateful afternoon.

The site was called Femmeworld, and it was an absolute delight! I won’t go into any detail here about that site, as several very intelligent and competent blogesses here on Tumblr have done that. I learned about blondes and brunettes, and I was struck with a bolt of revelation that I was a brunette, and that explained me! I made sense! Of course I understood that this was all within a fantasy world and that there was no such thing as an Aristasian brunette, but it revealed to me that other women had these feelings and experiences, and had thought about and discussed it enough to invent a fictional designation.

Former Aristasia-in-Virtualia participant, MissFenriss, on Tumblr in 2024.

Beginning in the late 1990s, Aristasians in London (and those drawn to the concept elsewhere) created websites promoting their ideas, aesthetics, and worldbuilding. They referred to these sites as “elektraspace” rather than the “internet,” and often they included small forums, chatrooms, or (very early on) simply pages where one could write an email to have it posted, a bit like a newspaper column.

Initially much of this fell into two categories: the promotion of the aforementioned offline events, or criticism of modernity (termed “Pit Crit”). As a teenager, most of the latter went over my head, though I've obvious plans to discuss it here in good time.

The offline events, despite their icky (to me) discipline focus, seemed intriguing - but were in London, and I, of course, am American. I was also awfully young at the time. I wondered, very, very deeply, what life was like as part of the (apparent) Aristasian "colony" in London, but had only their postings to go on.

Aristasia began some years before the Internet, but it came online quite early, creating its own virtual territory, known as Elektraspace. The first Aristasian presence online (unless any one knows of an earlier one) was called Femmeworld. Femmeworld was originally intended to be the Elektraspatial incarnation of Aristasia. It was pretty, pink and fluffy and carried a warning before entry that one was leaving cyberspace and entering Feminine Elektraspace.

A 2004 summary of Aristasia’s online endeavors.

Over time, as happened everywhere online, though these sites grew more and more sophisticated. The point was no longer merely the promotion of offline events, but the promotion of Aristasia on a wider scale. Aristasian elektraspace eventually would include entire small social networks. Early ones featured a great deal of “life theatre,” and later ones would retain some elements of this.

An exclusively online community formed around Aristasia, in addition to whatever might’ve been happening offline. This persisted, with many people (and personae!) coming and going in Aristasia’s elektraspace over the course of the decade.

While “life theatre” played a role (hehe pun) in Aristasia online from the beginning, early days saw more traditional (for the internet and IRC, forums, etc) roleplaying games as well. In particular, there was Avendale School, a roleplaying game focused on the titular school for girls located in Quirinelle, Aristasia Pura, of course.

Avendale was founded some two hundred years ago by Queen Anna Maria. It is a highly prestigious school. Probably the most prestigious school in Western Aristasia is Selastine in Trent. However Selastine is for brunettes only. Avendale is a mixed school. Daughters of royalty have attended Avendale as have the children of many of the most prominent families in Quirinelle and (to a lesser extent) other Aristasian nations.

Avendale accepts girls between the ages of 12 and 18. Most girls are proud of the school and intensely loyal to it. Pupils may be given positions of responsibility as monitors or prefects, and a proportion of the school's fundamental discipline is administered by the girls themselves.

Discipline is enforced by corporal and other forms of punishment. Though it is possible to avoid this by good behaviour. If you feel you need a lot of discipline, please say so in advance rather than trying to "court" it by excessive bad behaviour.

The Prospectus for Avendale School, posted early in the 2000s but archived in 2004.

I never joined Avendale School roleplay; at the time it was taking place, I was very much an actual student at an actual high school, and quite too busy for roleplaying in British time zones. I did read some logs of the game, which featured a great deal of physical discipline, excuses for it, and the like, so I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it much, anyways.

My interactions began on forums and those little columns where one might write in with questions, rather than roleplaying games. I also spoke with Aristasians in London on AOL. As I said, I lied to them about my real age; they didn’t realize I was a minor. I hope to (soon!) write more about my own very first steps into elektraspace (as best I can, as anonymously as possible) here.

I’ll (later, here) talk a bit about how the “multiple personae” aspect of Aristasia worked (swimmingly, might I add?) in a digital setting. I’ll also discuss some of the tensions that occurred between websites that were “canon,” so to speak, and made by the core group of Aristasians, versus those that were not.

Second Life, aka Virtualia

A forum post showing a sketch of the Aristasian Embassy (at one point) in Second Life.
A forum post showing a sketch of the Aristasian Embassy (at one point) in Second Life.

Virtualia refers to Aristasia’s presence within the once-popular online MMO known as Second Life. I’m unsure who coined the term Virtualia as an alternative to just calling it Second Life, but we called it that - often shortened to Virchers. This rich, interactive and customizable online space rapidly became the primary venue for Aristasia online.

An Aristasian Embassy was created there (and attacked by trolls, and rebuilt, several times) as well as several other locales throughout the group’s tenure within the MMO. Aristasian events in Second Life included small gatherings, dances and parties at the aforementioned embassy, and even a whole sorority-like “lay-college” at one point.

Blondes and brunettes gather at the Aristasian Embassy in Second Life.
Blondes and brunettes gather at the Aristasian Embassy in Second Life.

Many talks and sermons given in Second Life have been preserved alongside some that are older, if you’d like to hear them. Often they’re religious in tone, because we did, in fact, have a small chapel there. Sunday services were held when possible. Others are about life in Aristasia Pura (!?) or general philosophical matters.

Once able to write more here, I hope to talk about how the very idea behind Second Life (and second lives) appealed to Aristasia for many different reasons, some of which are good, and others not-so-good. I’ll discuss the escapism I saw slowly developing in this period of time, but I’m going to try to do so from a non-judgmental perspective. I’ll also discuss the (extensive) way Aristasians customized and used the platform.

2005: Bridgehead

A forum post discussing the possibility of a real Aristasia Pura.
A forum post discussing the possibility of a real Aristasia Pura.

Operation Bridgehead, occurring in November of 2005, marked a watershed event in Aristasia’s online (and overall) trajectory. The movement’s twilight-like mixture of fiction and spirituality became most apparent.

Core Aristasians began suggesting Aristasia Pura was a real place. The narrative shifted to something even stranger than before, with talk of Aristasia Pura existing, perhaps in another dimension, or perhaps somewhere out elsewhere in our universe.

The story was unclear, but the message was simple: the worldbuilding is now canon IRL, so to speak. I myself would argue that this idea was actually quite older than Operation Bridgehead, but only begun to “roll out” publicly at that point. Since I’ve no proof of that, I can’t quite say either way.

As you’ll likely guess, there were controversies and schisms within the movement caused (or allegedly caused) by Operation Bridgehead. One particular former Aristasian wrote a rather scathing piece called “A Mushroom Revolution, or the Hegemony of Novaria.” This argued (rather poorly, in retrospect) that the “younger” Aristasians (in terms of personae) had taken over the movement. The article (posted on Tumblr, and quoted above) called the changes made an “Aristasian Eclipse.”

The circumstances surrounding the Operation Bridgehead is inexplicable. In particular, sudden removal of the old-timer Aristasian heavy-weights such as Miss Martindale and Miss Langridge, sudden cancellation of the old mailing address (“BM Elegance”, London WC1) at British Monomark without even providing a forwarding address (I had sent a holiday card in November 2005/3325 and was returned to me over a year later with a sticker “Addressee Unknown”, indicating the mailbox was probably suddenly abandoned), and inexplicable appearance of characters such as “Commander Thamla Caerelinde” and odd shift from the old imagery of a pre-Eclipse culture to that of a science-fiction involving extraterrestrials and space navy, all make no sense in the retrospect.

Perhaps the switch was necessary to create a new form of collective mythos when the old nostalgic fantasy of a yet-to-be-deracinated Britain no longer captivated the right audience when sensationalized publicity around spanking and discipline completely distorted the public perception of Aristasia.

Whether it is literally true or not, narratives are important and all communities, nations and individuals define themselves by their own story-telling.

Miss Iris, speaking in a blog post archived on Tumblr, which was then archived at a later date here.

She went as far as to compare Sushuri Madonna (a well-known and friendly Aristasian figure at the time) to Kim Jong-Il for her supposed erasure of previous Aristasian history and iconography, changing the calendar, flag, and such. This is all, in retrospect, terribly melodramatic when one is speaking of an embassy in Second Life and some flags and songs on a webpage, but the post is certainly worth reading for further context.

When I first read this article, I believed parts of it. Years later, I realized that much of what the author said about the people involved did not match with what I knew to be true about them. I mean that in terms of factual information, not mindset or behavior, as well. For example, with some of the folks mentioned, their nationalities do not fit with what I knew of them, nor does the rest of their supposed histories.

This, along with what I know now about some of the other people involved, led me to, eventually, conclude that she likely had little understanding of the situation overall. She was likely just making things up, or working from bad sources. The author later admitted to only posting it to cause strife or something (I cannot find a source for this - am looking, and have been told by multiple people), and that tracks with what I saw, in retrospect. I feel incredibly foolish for having taken it seriously.

“Nova Aristasia” insofar as Miss Iris attempted it never happened, but it was an example of one response to Operation Bridgehead. Many pettes (as Aristasians at the time referred to themselves) found Operation Bridgehead either a pleasant, sensible, or inevitable change, though, it seems, and plenty showed up afterwards precisely for the sort of community that had formed due to Bridgehead. Still others stayed because they found it welcoming regardless.

I’ve been asked what I can recall about Operation Bridgehead. I think it must have been 2006, and at that time there were still active text forums as well as the growing community who met in Second Life. SL was a real bandwidth hog at the time, and few girls had systems that could run it at a tolerable frame rate, so much of the conversation was still in text.

There was already an Embassy established in SL when the Operation Bridgehead announcement appeared on the forum. It may have been the Blue Camellia Club, but my memory is a sieve, and I could be wrong. I remember that the accompanying graphic was a screenshot from SL of a military brunette avatar silhouetted in front of the flag of the Empire. The gist of it was that Operation Bridgehead was a formal declaration that the community of Aristasians who existed in Elektraspace were a protectorate of the Empress.

I know I am making a hash of this. I can’t recall the language, or even how the scope of it was defined. As far as I can tell, the Embassy in SL was considered the center of operations, but all girls who identified as Aristasians-in-Telluria and had some means of connecting with us should be considered under this protection, SL account or no. I wish there were someone I could ask to correct me if I have this wrong. There seemed to always be a philosophy that what truly made an Aristasian was her sincere desire to be one, and little else mattered. That inclusivity is why I spent so much time with them. And it’s a bit ironic, now that I think of it. They always seemed to pride themselves on their elitism, but when it came to interacting with any person who identified as a girl, and wanted to visit and learn what it was all about, there could never have been warmer, more pleasant hostesses.

Former Aristasia-in-Virtualia participant, MissFenriss, on Tumblr in 2024.

Future updates to this section will include more details about Bridgehead, its origins, and its outcomes. The Aristasian community split and changed a lot during this period, and it was strange for me, because while I embraced a lot of the changes, some quickly got too steep for me. I’ll also talk about their (arguably inevitable) involvement with the otherkin community, and the development of the Exile Aristasian concept. This (the development of that concept) was around the time I started to feel disconnected entirely, and I’ll discuss that a bit, insofar as is possible given privacy concerns.

Graphics and HTML theme graciously provided by Foollovers. Proudly hosted by Neocities. Optimized for desktop ordinators. This site was last updated on . You are visitor #.