The novel The Story of O by French author Anne Desclos (writing under the pen name Pauline Réage) is a tale of female submission. It involves a beautiful Parisian fashion photographer named O, who is taught to be constantly available for oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse, offering herself to any male who belongs to the same secret society as her lover.
The novel has spawned various movies and sequels, and has also been the basis for several sims and groups in Second Life. The first successful English-speaking Story of O sim in Second Life was founded in August 2007 by Megan Fabre and Marian Wildcat, and this sim passed from owner to owner for a while, before being led by Slint Dezno and closing in 2014. All of the other English-language Roissy areas were derived in one way or another from this original sim, either as a direct descendant or as splinter groups. Roissy Val d'Oise (VDO) opened in 2012, and has been led throughout by Rene (geir Resident), while Roissy-en-France (ReF) was founded in late 2014 by Josephine Ambrose Roux and is based on the life of O as portrayed in the second book, "Le Retour à Roissy" (The Return to Roissy).
The longest running Roissy sim is Cafe LaPe'rouse @ Austin, which was founded in September 2008 by Ratzu Darkstone, and which celebrated its 7th anniversary in September 2015. This article will focus on the organization and history of Cafe LaPe'rouse @ Austin as I know it, as well as my own personal experiences in the sim.
Cafe LaPe'rouse @ Austin sprawls on a full region of 65,536 m², and first time visitors will be amazed at the diversity of environments and settings within that area. Unlike the other Roissy sims, there is no unifying architectural or ecological theme that dominates throughout the entire space. Instead, Austin boasts an impressive variety of venues and landscapes that just beg to be explored by any intrepid Second Life explorer, from a huge tree house perched high atop a magnificent botanical specimen to blue caverns hidden deep underground; from a Japanese-themed Tea Room to a secret place that features erotic depictions of Alice in Wonderland; from a hilltop venue dedicated to sexy cowgirls to an Arabian style bed perched high atop a hill; to name just a few of the many fascinating areas in the sim.
The region itself is dominated by the Chateau. This sits in the center like a regal queen surveying her domain and is off limits to visitors except during special events, and almost all socializing takes place in the southwest quadrant of the region, where the Cafe, stores, and discussion and permanent dance areas are located. A red and gold train circumnavigates the parcel and provides a leisurely way for visitors to see some of the major features and geography of Austin.
The group is structured rather rigidly and along strictly maledom lines, and is dedicated to exploring domination and submission in the context of the Story of O. The intended goal is to provide training for the girls in their total submission, and produce Masters who are comfortable and powerful in their domination and expert in roleplay, and it is not an exaggeration to state that the regimen in Austin is most likely the most rigorous and comprehensive in all of Second Life. Both males and females are assigned two mentors and have to go through a series of levels in their training, culminating in the O-girl status in girls and the Master tag for Doms. Areas of study include Austin Culture, Bondage and control, Discipline and S/M, Safety, Scening and protocols, and Dominance and submission. Due to the somewhat long and arduous training required, as well as the strict application procedures that weed out people who either cannot function well socially with the group or whose dedication is suspect, the attainment of the O-girl and Master tags in Austin is something to be celebrated and treasured.
There have been some controversial aspects to the sim as well, at least to some people. Voice verification and IP address checking of applicants ensures that deception will not be a problem, but the use of software at one time to eliminate the proliferation of alts in the sim created some dissent from outsiders. The sharing of the girls at some point during their training among all the Masters also raises some eyebrows from those outside the group. However, Ratzu notes that Austin is first and foremost a D/s group where the Master-girl relationship is valued above all else, and that the sharing of the girls "is first for their growth and secondly for our pleasure. The poly aspect serves to grow our girls and Masters by allowing us to overcome our own insecurities, jealousy, learn to trust and become trustworthy."
I entered this culture that was based on strict protocols and rules for its members, but one situated in a rather whimsical physical environment, when I had my first full experience with Austin in July 29, 2014. I had met my submissive Linda (LB burnstein) just two weeks earlier, and she had invited me to join in a Newbie dance being held at the sim. By chance, the host of that event was Melinda Nyn, someone who I would later mentor and take into my protection, and she took the first picture of me and Linda as a couple. I enjoyed the dance, and found the people warm and welcoming, an opinion that did not change when I later participated in several other events at Austin. I even participated in my first Second Life auction during the 6th Anniversary celebrations, when I won a two hour date with Linda by mortgaging a kidney and a couple of other internal organs that will hopefully not be missed.
In the year since I have come to know the sim and its inhabitants well, and we have become ardent supporters of Austin and its events. We both like voicing and the Tuesday and Friday Voice Chats at the Austin Starbucks is a regular haunt of ours. In addition, Austin holds sit-down discussions where the topics range from theories about BDSM and D/s; to talks about the Story of O; to the more prosaic elements of D/s play such as roleplay, limits, and safewords. It also holds the usual dances which are a common staple of most sims in Second Life, but supplements these with events such as Movie/TV Trivia games, sex board games, a weekly Toy Chest Game, as well as the Undressed or Bound quiz where submissives are given the choice of being bound or removing some article of clothing. Finally, the Austin Revue produces semi-regular plays in Austin's Speakeasy Theater that examine D/s and BDSM concepts, and the troupe and production are second to none in Second Life.
I have also come to love the sim builds. Early on, I had Linda assemble a collection of landmarks of some of the more notable spots in the sim as part of an assignment. She came back with more than twenty LMs, and I have spent quite a bit of time exploring them, marvelling at some of the exquisite builds. All were designed by Ratzu, many times in consultation with the girls, but out of all the myriad thematic wonders of the sim, I would have to say that the Submission Gallery of Austin is by far the most impressive and arguably one of the most important features of the sim.
Austin has what is probably the largest collection of captioned D/s artwork in Second Life. Housed in three floors in the main building and a further six floors in a connected annex, visitors can spend literally hours in the Austin Submission Gallery gazing at the row upon row of images on the walls of the gallery, each with some text included on it about BDSM or Domination and submission. It is a learning tool for D/s practitioners that cannot be found anywhere else in SL, and Ratzu regularly hosts discussion tours of the gallery for members and visitors alike, wherein a participant can select an image and the accompanying text and elaborate on his or her thoughts about it.
In the end, it would not be an exaggeration to say that both my girl Linda and I have come to consider Austin our second home. We even have our favorite spots on the region, with Linda picking a hill that overlooks most of the sim as a frequent spot for meditation, while I like spending time in the refined elegance of the Austin library, ensconced on a luxuriant leather chair among the book-lined shelves. We are comfortable with the kind members of the group, and look forward to getting to know new friends and acquaintances in the future.