Pussy Planet

Not far from the 24 hour dairy on George Street is Pussy Planet, a large two storey weatherboard house converted to a 7 bed flat. It’s had the name for many years, but this years residents made what may be it’s first sign.

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Pussy Planet (2016) by Aleisha Ruske. Used with permission

Aleisha Ruske recalls how they learned their flat had a name, “There had been a garden gnome left there from the 2015 tenants with the name written on it. The group of girls I live with all went to Selwyn College last year, and our mascot is a gnome and all residents have one in our bedrooms so we got curious. There was also a boys name written on the inside and we found him on Facebook and discovered he’d been a Selwynite too — it’s a Selwyn tradition to “liberate” gnomes from other peoples gardens which is where this particular gnome must have come from. I’ve repainted it in Selwyn colours too and we plan on leaving it there for the next tenants.”

“We thought it was pretty cool we’d signed a named flat, but we thought it was sad it didn’t have a sign, so we made a one before class started. It’s pretty girly, but we are quite fond of it. We also thought a named flat had to have a bit more tradition to it, so we decided to host a flat ball — ‘The Pussy Planet Prom’ — and we hope next years tenants also keep that going too.”
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The Flying Duchess on Duchess Avenue

The Flying Duchess on Duchess Ave
Named for the avenue on which it sits, The Flying Duchess nonetheless references the legendary ghost pirate ship, Flying Dutchman, which was thought to collect souls lost at sea. The piratical connection is clear through their depiction of the Jolly Roger. This is not the first pirate themed flat, Jolly Roger’in, The Jolly Roger, Tortuga and Treasure Island were also inspired by piratical themes.

The Burrow on Great King Street

The latest in a series of Harry Potter themed flats, The Burrow is on the site of the longest lived iteration of Shrieking Shack.

The name board is painted sky blue with Potter inspired “lightning bolt” font, and is bedecked with a snitch and broomstick.

“It’s not much, but it’s home” is how Ron Weasley described his home to Harry when he first visited in The Chamber of Secrets.

The Burrow

Purple Orgy / Roger Wilco on Howe Street

Purple Orgy (1968) and Roger Wilco (1977) were situated at 57 Howe Street – later named Juice Box (2011) and more recently, Treasure Island (2016).

Purple Orgy

There nothing to verify the meaning of this name except for the purple paintwork.

Ziggy and the Green Spleens 1968241

Purple Orgy. 57 Howe Street. DCC Archives, City Planning Collection (c.1968)

Roger Wilco

See the flatties in 1977 along with their sign for the flat Roger Wilco (posted by Karin Williams).

May O’Hagan recalls living in Roger Wilco in 1978, “The huge sniff balls. The discussions on anarchy. And the green van inscribed with ‘I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a pre-fontal lobotomy’.” On questioning her about the nature of sniff balls, she elucidated,  “We saved our roaches, then cut them up into little pieces, then wrapped them into a ball in cigarette paper. Stuck a needle in the ball (about the size of a marble), put a match to it and passed it around and sniffed it.” (Facebook comments 17 July 2015).

Kate Ryan “The flat actually had a painted sign that ran like a ribbon on one weatherboard at the front…..it said “Play is better than work”, I wonder if it is still there under the present paintwork, it had been painted directly on the house” Lachy Paterson “I think Karin painted that slogan, also from a Kliban book.” (Facebook comments 18 July 2015).

The flat, Roger Wilco, spawned more named flats across the country: Gumboot Wilco (Invercargill), Cousin Wilco (Palmerton), Island Wilco (Rarotonga), Country Wilco, and Wilco National Park (Auckland). 

The origin of the flat name Roger Wilco was a cartoon character created by the American B. Kliban who was particularly popular in the late 1970s. You can see a picture of the Roger Wilco character in the The Stanford Daily, Volume 172, Issue 18, 18 October 1977, this image was reproduced from his book, “Whack your Porcupine”, 1976. Roger Wilco has an other meaning, it’s roots are in radio communications lexicon, a hangover from WW11 – Roger (acknowledge) Wilco (Will comply). It has a particular connection with airmen. It’s not known if there is a connection between this and Kliban’s character.

Kliban describes himself as a beatnik in the 1960s, wearing black turtlenecks and drinking a lot, which I’m sure, along with his art, was a point of connection for many students at the time.