Vicki Hyde

Founder and Benign Dictator, KAOS (1981-1984)

It was 1981 and I was a bored UC student, reading an article in the UC student caf about US students having fun killing each other, in a game based on the Mastrioanni film "The 10th Victim"; I had read the Robert Sheckley's short story "The Seventh Victim" on which it was based.

"Why can't we do something like this?" I wondered. The chap sitting next to me said "why don't you do something like this?". And so KAOS was born.

It quickly attracted a diverse range of quirky characters who generally didn't quite fit in elsewhere -- some proto-Goths and punks, lots of role-players, science fiction fans (true lit-fen; media-fen didn't exist really as there was nothing to watch other than reruns of Star Trek and cringe-worthy things like the original Battlestar Gallactica and Buck Rogers). We had a male:female ratio of 17:1, and I adopted the title of "benign dictator".

For the first full year of operations I tried to import a badge-making machine from the US, but couldn't get the necessary permission to do so (not exactly a free-market economy back then). The initial badges were made in Auckland, using very grainy photocopies of my poor artwork -- things have got a lot fancier since. We established the first 48-hour party by accident at my old flat in 20 Armagh St, and only had the police called on us once in three years. The place had a well-established disreputable reputation -- in the Canta files there was a photo of Denis Glover and James K Baxter and a bunch of others sitting on the roof (well before my day).

KAOS contributed bodies to Canta staff and articles for the rag, and campaigned to keep it independent of the student exec. We charged on down to the Ngaio Marsh the day the engineering students tried to pack the UCSA meeting to ram through a pro-Springbok tour resolution. We'd practice target water pistol skills on anyone smoking in the one non-smoking cafe in the union building. And we played cards, lots and lots of canasta. I think only a handful of us actually graduated, but we had a great time.

I did finally graduate in 1984 and left for Japan. When I came back in 89, it was startling to find out that KAOS continued; even more dismaying to hear youngsters talk about the "old" days of the KAOS originals; worse, having them tell me stories about things I'd done or events I'd been at as if reciting ancient canon.

And then someone mentioned that the manifesto had made provisions for any kid I had to take on the dictatorship; I was given a baby KAOS T-shirt for my firstborn. Fast forward almost two decades and my sons have both determinedly dodged the bullet, being somewhat embarrassed to find their friends interested in joining a club founded by their mother.