Christopher Ryan (known by friends as Zeustopher) drives a school bus for a living, but he is by no means your average school bus driver. Ryan is the captain and owner of the Quetzal Bus, a roaming event venue that travels all over the country with the goal of transforming ordinary spaces into spontaneous celebrations. The Quetzal Bus is one of several art cars that make up Junxion NYC, a collective that brings artists, food trucks, bars, and musicians together.
We recently caught up with Ryan, who is based out of Brooklyn, New York, to talk his coincidental nickname, Guatemala’s chicken buses, and his many duties as captain of the world’s most fun school bus.
1. Describe yourself in one word.
2. We might just be fans of your nickname. Tell us, how did you end up going by the Instagram handle @Zeustopher?
Well, in 2009 at Burning Man, I was standing on top of this huge art project, with a big beard, a white fur coat, and a shofar, blowing it at the rising sun, and this little Israeli woman came up to me and called me Zeus. Fast forward 7 years or so later, and most of my friends with the Burning Man community call me that still.
3. Speaking of interesting names, you’re the owner and captain of the Quetzal Bus. How’d you come up with the name of the bus, and why did you decide to use a bus as the focal point of Junxion events?
I named my bus The Quetzal partly as an ode to Guatemala, as I love that country and their crazy chicken buses, and partly out of tradition of using bird names for our buses. I have quite a few friends with buses, and since our first one, aptly named the Blue Bird after the bus manufacturer “Blue Bird Bus Company,” the bird names have pretty much stuck, we have the Black Bird in L.A., and also the Red Dragon in San Francisco (not named after a bird, but a dragon does fly). So I named my bus the Quetzal, which is a beautiful bird from Guatemala, google it!
The buses are the focal point of the Junxion because the Junxion was built off the back of our buses. It all pretty much started with the buses, and us finding a way to create an experience outside the norm of a warehouse party in Brooklyn, we were able to use them as a platform in the mobile sense to take our venue anywhere we wanted. The Junxion is a crossroads, a place where two things or roads meet. This is why the mobile adventure venue works so well with what we have created.
4. Junxion events sound like a whole lot of fun. How did you develop the concept of a mobile party?
So we bought the first bus mainly for Burning Man, or at least that’s what she became. A few years later we realized that our community had grown quite a bit, and it was time for another bus. So I bought mine on eBay. I Drove it back up to New York, and did a family retreat upstate with like 30 people. One morning after many shenanigans, we were talking about how we now have a fleet of buses, which is exponentially cooler than just one bus, and boom - on the roof of the Quetzal, the concept and name was pretty much born.
5. What are your duties as captain of the Quetzal bus?
My duties are immense. Especially having the bus in New York City. First off, parking is a nightmare. Insurance, inspection, registration, the list of legal obligations is endless. Next there is actually maintaining the bus mechanically, and inside and out. Thank God I have help with that stuff. And then comes actually driving the bus, which is a skill in its own right. Imagine driving a packed bus with 50+ people around New York City with the music blasting and people dancing, and staying focused and in control. Not so easy…
6. You’ve driven your bus to a bunch of places. What’s been a recent favorite stop?
The bus just got back from Burning Man, but now the transmission is blown. We actually have a Kickstarter launched for it right now! Check it out here! Every little bit helps! http://bit.ly/qutzlkckstr (ed. note: the Kickstarter has since reached its funding goal and the transmission has been repaired!).
7. The work you do is filled with a great sense of adventure. What does adventure mean to you?
Funny you’d mention that, because that is the one word I used to describe myself. Adventure is seeing the unknown, taking risks where the outcome isn’t sure, and generally going forward with having experiences in life as a main driving factor.
8. What is your greatest fear and have you conquered it?
I’ll quote the great Peter Pan, and say, “To die would be a grand adventure.” I don’t mean that in a cryptic suicidal way, I mean it in a reflection way. I think my greatest fear would be growing old and feeling like I wasted my life. So to be old, and to look back on the wild and fun and sometimes stupid things I’ve done, i.e. buy a old bus, and sit truly grateful for the experiences and people that these choices brought me, now that is an adventure.
9. Where do you see yourself in the next year?
I see myself filming a script I am writing in India, and launching my jewelry line that I’ve been working on as well as opening the store I’ve been working on called Al’s Swap Shop. It’s a take on my grandfather’s store from the 50’s - antique and custom jewelry and art as well as vintage oddities.
10. Who or what influenced you to grow a beard?
I suppose my hair follicles influenced me the most in growing a beard. Didn’t do much to earn the beard besides just letting it be.
Right now, I’m obsessed with: A woman.
I’d love to visit: Buenos Aires.
Rule I live by: Call Your MOM!
Follow Christopher Ryan (Zeustopher) on Instagram @Zeustopher. Follow the Quetzal Bus on its trek @QuetzalBus, and learn more about Junxion NYC here.