Micronation Slowjamastan hosts 'Meet the Sultan' event on Sunday
Along a desolate stretch of the California desert southwest of the Salton Sea, Randy Williams stepped up Sunday to a podium with the official seal of the Republic of Slowjamastan.
The self-proclaimed "sultan" of the self-proclaimed "micronation" stood behind 10 or so prop microphones from an imaginary press corps. “I’d like to thank the American media for attending, he said. “It must be a slow news day.”
Beside him stood Mark Corona, the head of border security for Slowjamastan. He held what looked like a flamethrower clasped tightly in his black-gloved hands.*
Williams and Corona each peered through aviator glasses, surveying a crowd of about 75 people who had parked off Highway 78 and walked through a guard shack that lead to the 11-acre property Williams purchased last fall.
Corona, the border patrol agent, made attendees sign a list to enter to the property through the guard shack gate, yet there is no fencing around the property, and people later walked in and out of the "nation" at will.
Williams calls the property a nation, and he's even printed his own currency — the duble. Yet the merchandise he sold at his event on Sunday — shirts, postcards and, well, dubles — had to be purchased with U.S. dollars.
“This nation started with a dream and some drugs,” Williams said in a 30-minute proclamation. “But mostly a dream."
"Slowjamastan" is on State Route 78 in Imperial County. Property records show Williams bought the land for $19,000 in October.
Williams, a radio DJ from San Diego, said the inspiration for the Slowjamastan project emerged out of a trip he made last fall to the "The Republic of Molossia," a self-proclaimed sovereign micronation near Dayton, Nevada.
Micronations don't have any official recognition by the federal government. This means the ability of micronation residents to live by (their) own rules is no greater than residents of any other patch of land in the country.
People attended from Phoenix, San Diego, Brawley, Borrego Springs and the Coachella Valley. One family rode off-road vehicles to the property from the adjacent Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. Others arrived intrigued by signs on Highway 78 touting the "Republic of Slojamastan."
Many were Williams' friends from the radio industry. Some said they were from a commune in Borrego appointed by Williams to become Slojamastanian diplomats. A few said they were fed up with American politics, and others said they came for a good laugh.
“We would have come from twice the distance,” said Rancho Mirage residents Tim McCarthy and his partner, Yolanda.
Guests in attendance received a gift bag with Williams’ business card, a postcard from Slowjamastan and 20 dubles. “Beware of counterfeit dubles sold in Salton City,” warned Williams.
During his speech, Williams called his land a dictatorship, yet he allowed American attendees — many of whom have paid small fees to become “official citizens” of Slowjamastan — to vote on some issues, such as the state’s official sport (red rover), the national imported fruit (maraschino cherry), the name of the raccoon mascot (Slowjamastanley), and whether to declare war on Yuma, Arizona (the citizens chose peace).
Williams said there were 99 registered citizens as of Sunday. To become a Slojamastanian, one must apply online with an email address, a passport photo and a commitment to follow the Slojamastanian social media accounts.
Williams delivered his speech in the national language — English, general foreign accent, a sort of mishmash of English dialects from around the globe that he said was not intended to poke fun at any group, adding, “I don’t want to be canceled.”
Rules in Slowjamastan are few and far between, but Williams declared no one can wear Crocs or bite string cheese.
“It must be torn with love,” he said.
Williams, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio program called "Sunday Night Slow Jams," admitted he still has lots to plan for his fledgling state, but a bowling alley, Korean barbecue restaurant or lazy river could become forms of economic development.*
For now, he said, the official natural resource is sand.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Mark Corona as Matt Corona.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story said Williams "once" hosted a program called "Slow Jam." Williams still hosts the program.
Prior reporting from Desert Sun Business Reporter James B. Cutchin was used in this report.
Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @Writes_Jonathan.
Update: A large green sign on Highway 78 proclaiming the Republic of Slowjamastan was illegally erected on state land alongside the road and must be removed by Wednesday at 10 a.m., per CalTrans District 11 spokesman Hayden Manning. "We did end up speaking with the Sultan. He's going to have it removed from our property and placed in a new location," said Manning. "He's disappointed." No penalties will be assessed, but a state crew will take the sign down if the deadline isn't met.
Desert Sun environment reporter Janet Wilson contributed to this story.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Micronation Slowjamastan hosts 'Meet the Sultan' event on Sunday