The Other World Kingdom- a historical lesson in why Feminist Matriarchies don't work

Picture the scene. Bright and early one Saturday morning in June, around 25 men scuttle down a castle stairway into the long corridor of a stable. Each naked save for a ragged pair of shoes, neck collar, and set of clanking leg irons, they trip and stumble as a line of imperious, gorgeous young women, clad in leather fetish gear, cane them with a gauntlet of long rods. Suddenly, the men burst forth into the warm, sunny air and start to fan out, scattering across an open, 2-acre field. Then, hot on their heels, about 35 new women, likewise clad in domination getups, march out after the men, carrying rods, riding crops, and dozens of eggs with them. As the shackled men scramble through muddy ponds, trying and failing to climb little hillocks, the women hurl eggs left and right. Every time a cold, hard shell smacks into the soft flesh of one of the running men, he stops, turns, and crawls back to the woman who pegged him, licking or kissing her boots before being dragged back to his holding pen. Once inside, the detained men obediently let the women whip and smack them—and with each blow, the struck men breathlessly and profusely thank their cajoling, laughing strikers.

Few people ever got to witness this bizarre spectacle. Known as the Slave Hunt, it was one of many such events commemorating the Celebration of Female Dominance, an annual festival in the self-declared and exclusive sovereign nation known as the Other World Kingdom. Over the years, the celebration featured many types of events, ranging from whipped-ass competitions judged on a woman’s stylistic delivery of blows, to slave auctions in which ladies used the Kingdom’s currency to buy and sell humble men, singing, dancing, and running laps to prove their virility and merit. There were also public trials against men who broke the nation’s rules—failing to bow to the land’s female residents, taking off collars that marked them as chattel inferiors, or in any way displeasing one of the Mistresses of the realm.

Every event served to highlight and reaffirm the central values governing the day-to-day affairs of the OWK: Women are the superior sex. Men, although of varied ranks and class, under the Kingdom’s laws are all regarded as “slaves,” destined to servitude. And women of the OWK must control men with forceful punishments—humiliations for which the men will thank them. Stories about the OWK sound too outlandish to be true. Many accounts of the realm are written in the lurid, purple prose of slash fiction. But the OWK wasn’t fantasy. It was a real place—a micronation (or self-declared state within a state) that managed to operate under its own laws for more than a decade before shutting down.

Whereas most micronations are scams or jokes at worst, and protests or libertarian communes at best, the OWK was a singularly bold experiment. It attempted to create a society around inverted gender norms, inspired by the principles of a type of BDSM known as female domination, or “femdom.” The OWK took that ephemeral, transitory lifestyle and brought it out into the open as the normative, permanent, and legal basis of an intentional community. Even though in hindsight such an audacious, idealistic project seemed destined to fail, the place became an enduring icon, testing the limits of sexual and political identity by probing the way people integrate compartmentalized fantasies into their everyday lives.

The Other World Kingdom- a historical lesson in why Feminist Matriarchies don't work

Though the OWK was ultimately shut down in 2008, many dominant ladies and slaves recorded their experiences of the OWK in excruciating detail (the tale of the Slave Hunt, for example, was written down by a slave of an American woman who goes by the name Mistress Troy in the femdom world). Because the Queen and her government used their castle as the setting for many BDSM porn video shoots, there’s also an extensive visual record of the Kingdom and its rituals. And despite the intense privacy of many participating in the lifestyle, a few femdom women and men are willing to open up about their personal experiences with the Queen and her government, speaking under their in-lifestyle names rather than their everyday identities.

Created on June 1, 1996, near Cerna Hora, a town of about 2,000 people in the eastern Czech Republic, just off the highway from the city of Brno, the OWK claimed about 8 acres of land. An absolute matriarchal monarchy, founded and ruled by Czech dominatrix known as Patricia who decided that there should be a space where people could live a femdom lifestyle, not just in snippets, but full time, it was dominated by the seat of the Queen—a 31-bed, 31-bath cream-colored castle, with a burnt-orange roof, built in 1580. Beyond the castle lay the Black City, a collection of chateaus equipped with stables, libraries, and banqueting halls (as well as prisons, torture chambers, sadomasochistic night clubs, and restaurants), which served as the Kingdom’s capital and sole city.

Patricia carefully crafted a comprehensive state system for her new reality. She created a flag—a female gender symbol inside a white shield placed within a field of colored triangles—and coat of arms (a golden crown with a whip, chain, female cross, and shackle). Her currency, the Dom, was pegged to the U.S. dollar, and was to be used for all purchases inside the Kingdom’s grounds. After a year of renovations costing 2 million euros in today’s money ($2.34 million), she opened the OWK in 1997, inviting all dominant females and willfully submissive males to join her, and naming herself Queen Patricia I, the Sublime Supreme Administer of the realm. Patricia also devised a legal code (mostly concerning proper attire and conduct for men, but also determining payment of taxes for the use of OWK facilities, and outlining regulations regarding citizenship), complete with an appointed Chief Justice overseeing bi-annual court hearings. Furthermore, she delegated a Queen’s Guard—a cabinet of Ladies dedicated to tasks like managing the state library, prison, and correspondences. The legal code also differentiated Sublime Ladies, the inner circle of citizens and the Queen’s ruling nobility, from visiting Ladies and other outsiders.

Most intricately, she wrote contracts requiring men to declare themselves slaves in the OWK and to seek a status as close to servitude as possible under external legal systems. “By signing this contract the male creature slave becomes a slave under the Laws of OWK,” reads a copy of one such contract. “The slave becomes immediately, fully, irrevocably, and unconditionally, the property of the Sublime Lady… The signing hereof is the last act of free will of the slave. The slave is understood as a creature, who on the basis of his voluntary decision, made in writing, has relinquished all human rights to the benefit of his Lady Owner.” There was no space for non-submissive men; all men entering the Kingdom had to be some kind of slave. A complex caste system differentiated various levels of servitude. State slaves helped to run the facilities. Prison slaves lived in abysmal conditions, constantly. And slaves who were bonded to a visiting or citizen Lady were required to adhere to the rules and norms she set out for them.

The dominatrices came from all walks of life, although given the location and expense of the OWK’s facilities, many of the micronation’s denizens were Europeans and people of means. Each female citizen was theoretically required to possess at least one slave. As for the men who gave themselves to the OWK, some came with a Mistress, often paying her way, though remaining subservient. Some came alone and fully self-funded, or worked off their stay with labor under the Queen or an assigned Lady. Those who came with a woman would often remain kept in her private room, and might not have gotten to know the other slaves much.

But the lone men, often caged together or left in the fields to labor out of sight and for hours on end, made friends and bonded illicitly, getting to know each other and joking around about the peculiarities of their submissive existence. One man, who wrote his account of a fortnight spent as a working slave at the OWK in 2001, recalls how when the Mistresses were out of earshot, he and the other maintenance-work slaves would whisper about their lives, using their real names: Garry was from Texas, but had Czech family roots. Steve was a Kiwi who’d never been further than Australia before this. They all knew this fraternizing was punishable by a brutal flogging.

“The guys that were paying to be slaves were constantly watched by women guards so there was no masturbation,” says Lady Femina, an American dominatrix who used to feature at The Loft and Hellfire Club in New York City in the 1980s, and an early associate of the Queen. She was the first American to visit the OWK and attain citizenship in 1997. “I had a great idea for a little side business: If just outside the [Kingdom] there was a little jerk-off booth. These guys must have been crazy by the time they got out of there if they were really having a good time.” Slaves and “doms,” each played their part in pursuit of the Kingdom’s explicit goal: “to get as many male creatures under the unlimited rule of Superior Women on as much territory as possible.”

“The [surrounding village] people didn’t question things,” said Lady Femina, “They kept their noses out of other people’s business for the purpose; that’s just how they were raised. For these older people, they went through Nazism and then Communism. I think they just sloughed [the OWK] off as another phase of a political entity that was going to be changing their lives. And there was not a great deal of communication with the local people, except that [sometimes] guys harnessed pulling carriages with mistresses in them [would go] right through the town. But the townspeople, they just looked the other way. It was just very bizarre.”

Lady Femina and her submissive husband, scene-name Tony, learned about the OWK like many in the pre-Google era: thumbing through publications at an adult bookshop. The duo, then living in Amsterdam, found an ad for a magazine called Other World Kingdom News No. 1, which purported to be the glossy and pornographic chronicle of a real-world femdom empire, and also contained an invitation to the Queen’s coronation event, held in 1997 from May 30 to 31. The couple was skeptical; it all seemed like some gimmick. But they wanted to see post-communist Prague, having been there before the fall of the Berlin Wall. And the OWK was supposedly just an hour or so away, so they figured they could check it out and retreat if needed.

“My husband even said, ‘As we enter the front door, we’re going to see some old farmer with a pitchfork and he’ll just say, “What are you doing here”,’” recalls Lady Femina, chuckling. “But it was certainly legitimate.” After knocking on a great wooden door, the duo was met by a male slave in a prisoner’s uniform, and led into a long corridor lined with women and more slaves leashed up like guard dogs, lit by torches set into sconces in the walls. Exploring the grounds, they witnessed Queen’s Guard members whipping slaves working in the damp, cold showrooms filled with custom-made leather goods engraved with OWK symbols. They saw the State Power Station where men turned a giant wheel under the whip, just to generate enough power for the Lady mushing them on to see her handiwork—the ultimate theology of femdom manifested in the movement’s stronghold.

Later, they entered the Queen’s throne room, with a hundred other dominatrices and slaves from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. They witnessed the Queen striding over a human carpet to her throne, showered with flower petals and flanked by a bowing Queen’s Guard and state slaves as she went. The Queen took her seat and the government of the OWK was officially in place, something the dominatrices celebrated with champagne and a performance by a dance troupe from Prague. The slaves celebrated by sleeping in the warm halls of the castle rather than in their prison cells, for that night at least. Over the coming days, the dominatrices enjoyed all manner of creative events designed to humiliate the men around them.

“I hosted a dinner party [in my suite],” recalls Lady Femina. “I had this big, round table with a hole in the middle, where the slave would pop his head up and we’d do stupid things like stick french fries in his ears and smash peas in his face and throw food at him.” By the end the dominatrices and the slaves were exhilarated, high on the potential of the OWK. “It is not just a visit, it is a life experience,” wrote Lady Femina in her article, full of eager hope. “You may never think the same about where you living [sic], once you visit the OWK.” She went on to predict that within five years a visit to the OWK would be an annual must-do for every dominant woman in the world, and approached the Queen to plan the logistics to start yearly familiarization trips, introducing North American femdom practitioners to the OWK.

But despite all the excitement and advertising around the OWK, the Kingdom almost immediately started running into serious logistical problems. Chief among these roadblocks were the poor location of the Kingdom and the cost of operations. “I think that people just didn’t want to move to this obscure place,” said Lady Femina. “Most of the people who came there are Europeans. If they’re going to move to a holiday village, they’re going to move someplace warm with sun.” It was also a new environment in an uncertain political, social, and economic context. “Nobody quite knew what was going to happen. Nobody wanted to make an investment.” And even when it was dead and boring, with only a skeleton crew of slaves on the grounds (most of the court went off to Prague when there weren’t any events going on), it still cost quite a bit to use the facilities, with hotel prices throughout.

Accordingly, the OWK increasingly became a themed resort more than a society, focusing upon festival days while remaining desolate and largely deserted otherwise. The magazine and various femdom porn movies became the big money earners, and while by the late-2000s many doms came to use the place and its facilities as an icon in their own shoots, they didn't go to live and commune there. It didn’t help that the Queen was especially sketchy about the business side of the OWK either. No one knew where the money for the Kingdom came from, although there were murmurs that Russians were involved somehow. Even with people trying to do business with her, Patricia could be haughty and closed off. “I wouldn’t want to offend Queen Patricia because she was very gracious with me and she was fine,” says Lady Femina. “But I think that mistresses tend to be a bit egotistical, as you can imagine, and she took that to the nth degree. I think that she rubbed some people wrong.”

“We found that she wasn’t prepared to really answer detailed questions about logistics,” adds Tony, recalling a meeting they had to discuss organized trips for North American groups. “Such as what kind of insurance the place had, was it listed as an actual hotel, what was its relationship with the Czech state, and so forth. So the concept [of our yearly trips] went nowhere.” The imperious Queen also wound up making some weird judgment calls about what it meant to be in the femdom scene; imposing an incredibly hardline, brutal form of female domination that didn’t sit well with many dominatrices and seemed to run counter to the idiosyncratic and negotiated dynamic at the heart of femdom (and BDSM in general); aggressively reasserting the dominance of the woman in femdom relations. And it got pretty dark.

“Some of the slaves were treated in such a cruel manner that they were just getting gruel for food,” recalls Lady Femina. “They were getting held in the cages, maybe with 3 inches of cold water. It was more concentration camp-ish and a lot of the slaves were even in this sort of concentration camp garb, which I found particularly in bad taste. The slaves were getting ill.” The Queen instilled this harsh sensibility into the fabric of the community by staffing her original court not with dominatrices, but with beautiful Czech models brought in from Prague (many believed it was a cheap bid to sell magazines early on). Not lifestyle femdom practitioners themselves, the Czech models studied the Queen’s punishment style and became functionary brutalizers.

“They were just nasty,” says Tony. “Well, I wouldn’t say ‘nasty.’ They were businesslike. They were dominant with the guys, but they never convinced me they were really femdom.” Real, in-lifestyle dominatrices rotated in periodically from all over Europe and the Americas to host events too, adding some credibility to the experience. The Kingdom’s establishment respected the rights of a light-pain submissive like Tony, who came along as the escort of Lady Femina. But other slaves were fair game. “I found that the practices were extreme,” admits Tony, “but the guys there seemed to like it. I mean… I didn’t see anybody running away or crying or complaining.”

Ultimately, the Queen created the OWK based on an image of femdom as she saw it, in an era before the internet helped practitioners to realize the immense variation of lifestyles in the scene. She seemed not to realize, or maybe just didn’t care, that her vision and regime of extreme violence appealed only to a minority in the already minuscule community. And the number within that minority who would want to live that cruelty full time was a smaller minority still. These permanently dominant women were viewed by others as too intense—saying that their dominatrix personas weren’t meant to be inhabited for more than a few hours, or perhaps overnight at most, and their everyday relations with men and with the rest of the human population ought to be significantly different.

Everybody was on board with the general concept of the OWK, said Lady Femina and Tony, but in the end the extreme punishments were just too much, too silly, and too long-lasting for most doms.

“To work in a real femdom society, you can’t do that constantly. You have to have some kind of give and take in it,” says Tony, hitting upon one of the big precepts of BDSM: the need for a fluidity and dialogue, grounded in mutual respect. Fundamental elements such as consent, individuality and negotiation were eaten away by the state’s unilateral imposition—one vision of an inverted existence turned into an unyielding new world order. Nobody’s quite sure what the final straw was—the inability to find a better property (apparently they were looking into plots along the French Riviera or in Spain), the costs, the ideological issues with Queen Patricia’s extreme punishments, or just the global financial crisis—but in 2008, the OWK folded as a nation.

As for Queen Patricia, she melted away into the mists. Careful readers of OWK literature were sure to notice that the Queen took great pains to retain her anonymity, never showing her face in public photos and never listing any of her details. Femina and others were unsure of her background. Most at least agree that Patricia was Czech, and some suspect she may have chosen the location because she had roots in the area. Others think there must have been some kind of connection to Russian wealth somewhere in her history, although that’s more speculation than anything else. Some suspect she just retired, thinking her job was done, and moved to warmer climes, basking in the anonymity of her real-world identity and leaving the OWK behind. Much remains unknown about her intentions, her finances, and the deepest inner workings of the OWK. But it leaves us with a mythic decline of what still seems a fantastical parallel world.

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