Lord Boola’s Mad Max Apocalypse

September 5, 2018

By Sheila Julson

Cudahy Man Launches Fundraiser for Veterans

To create a Mad Max effect, Hector Zayas applied metallic paint in a process of overlays that gave the bike its distressed, crackled look. Ammunition belts and bullets were added above the handlebars. He cut away part of the rear fender, altered it to resemble the cow catcher on an old steam locomotive, and attached it to the front of the motorcycle. —Photo Jason Kewley

Hector Zayas is unconventional and proud of it.

The 70-year-old Cudahy resident is a Vietnam veteran and custom motorcycle builder. He is also devoted to helping raise money to donate to military veterans who have served since 9/11.

This year he went all out and initiated a Mad Max movie-themed fundraiser, Apocalypse, that was held Aug. 18 at The Bunker bar and grill in Waterford, Wis.

The funds raised through raffles, T-shirt sales, and donations collected during the event benefit the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a nonprofit service organization for veterans injured in post-9/11 combat duty. 

Zayas has been a patron of The Bunker, a military-themed bar and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, for several years and knows co-owner Steve Oschmann, also a
Vietnam veteran. Aware of past WWP fundraisers at the Bunker, Zayas suggested that Oschmann liven things up a bit this year by doing a Mad Max-themed fundraiser.

“I wanted a fun, festive, carnival-like event,” Zayas said. “We’re bringing the movie to The Bunker’s backyard.”

Zayas and Oschmann, along with Ronald L. Cseri, organized the fundraiser. Cseri is affiliated with the annual Milwaukee Mad Max Run apocalyptic tour that rolls through Milwaukee.  

Zayas, a fan of the Mad Max post-apocalyptic action movies, noted that the dystopian films developed a cult following after the first of the series was released in 1979.

A similar event held since 2010 is Wasteland Weekend, an annual festival held in California City, Calif., that draws hundreds of people fully costumed in Mad Max attire. 

This his how Hector Zayas’s 1978 Honda Goldwing GL 1000 looked before he “Mad Maxed” it. —Photo Cindy Secker

—Photo Cindy Secker

Zayas’ customized 1978 Honda Goldwing GL 1000 looks like he rode it straight out of the Wasteland. 

He applied metallic paint in a process of overlays that gave the bike its distressed, crackled look. Ammunition belts and bullets were added above the handlebars. He cut away part of the rear fender, altered it to resemble the “cow catcher” on an old steam locomotive, and attached it to the front of the motorcycle. The customizing process took about six months and he keeps adding more embellishments to his bike.

Playful and always quick with a quip, Zayas has two “passengers” mounted to the back of the Mad Max motorcycle. “They were cute when I got them,” he said of the ghoulish dolls that could be described as Chucky-meets-steampunk. Creepy Cindy has tousled hair, little goggles, a grenade, and other weapons. Hamburger Boy is equipped with an axe and sports a pair of dusty spiked boots.

Zayas, whose alter ego is Lord Boola, made the distressed leather vest and spiked helmet that are part of his costume.

He has won several awards with his Mad Max Honda—even at a Harley Davidson event where his motorcycle was the Non-H-D Cool Customs Class Winner at the 2017 Custom Bike Show, held at the Harley Davidson museum. “As Willie G. Davidson handed me the trophy, he said, ‘You ride a Honda?’” Zayas said with a laugh.

While Zayas praised Harley-Davidson motorcycles as good bikes, he likes the dependability of Hondas. He also owns a 1977 Honda Goldwing and a 2000 Honda Valkyrie—sans Mad Max props.

As far as four-wheeled vehicles go, Zayas has “Ghost Rider,” a 1966 Ford Galaxy, that viewed head on, bears a resemblance to Darth Vader’s mask. He also modified a guitar amplifier for the car and uses a cordless microphone to “make the car talk.” “It says anything I want it to say,” he said proudly.

A motley crew gathered for the first annual Mad Max movie-themed fundraiser, Apocalypse, held Aug. 18, at The Bunker bar and grill in Waterford, Wis. The event was the brain-child of Cudahy, Wis. resident Hector Zayas. Ronald L. Cseri and Bunker owner Steve Oschmann helped organize and stage the event. The proceeds will be donated to post-911 military veterans. —Photo Cindy Secker

The event

The three-hour Apocalypse at the Bunker event raised $400 for WWP. An opening ceremony included a parade of motorcycles and even a golf cart, all decked out in a Mad Max theme. “Lord Boola” gave an opening speech. Bartenders and attendees were decked out in post-apocalyptic costume. The event drew 150 people.

The Led Zeppelin tribute band No Quarter played at the event. Guitarist Michael Brandenburg said it was an honor to be asked to participate. “We jumped at the chance to use our talents to give something back to these heroes,” he said. “It’s because of those amazing men and women that we are able to do what we do, and it’s a privilege to return the favor in a small way by playing music that we hope they love.”

The WWP was founded in 2003 and is currently headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. They have peer support groups nationwide, including one in Milwaukee. Zayas, however, is not a member of WWP or any other veterans’ organizations. “I don’t like meetings, and I don’t like obligations,” he said. “I liked the idea of a Mad Max fundraiser and the production aspects of it.”

Call to duty

Zayas was born in Puerto Rico. His family moved  to Chicago when he was 4 years old. “We were one of the first Latin families in the neighborhood,” he said. “I grew up all-American. We raced cars and went to diners with carhops.” Zayas remembers going to the Great Lakes Dragaway, in Union Grove, Wis., to watch car races.

He and his sister, along with several cousins, were frequently in the care of his grandmother while his parents worked long hours in factories. “We’d all hide under the bed whenever Grandma got mad,” he recalled, “but then she’d take a broom handle and start poking under the bed to get us out.”

Despite putting in long hours at work, Zayas’ mother still found time to cook. “She was the best cook in the world. But I’m a critic, and when she’d screw up, I’d let her know. She made great fricassee chicken, but my Aunt Jenny’s was a little better,” he said.

His childhood antics and teen frolicking came to an abrupt halt in 1967 one day when he arrived home, looking forward to a movie date that evening with his girlfriend. Before heading inside, he checked the mailbox. “There was a letter sticking out of the mailbox. It read, ‘…You are inducted into the United States Army,’” he recalled. “I still took my girlfriend to the movie that night—a war movie, of all things—and I saw all these guys on the screen getting shot up.”

Drafted in 1967, Hector Zayas served in the Army’s 23 Infantry Division. His unit was deployed in an area known as Cherry Hill, near Chu Lai, Vietnam. —Photo Jason Kewley

Zayas arrived in Vietnam toward the end of 1967 via Flying Tiger Line (Flying Tigers), aircraft chartered to transport troops and supplies from the United States to Asia. “As soon as they opened the doors of that plane, it was like a movie,” he said. “The color of the grass was so green, greener than anything you ever saw, and all those rice paddies. It was so colorful and beautiful. It didn’t look real,” Zayas said.

He served in the  Army’s 23rd Infantry Division. His unit was deployed in an area known as Cherry Hill, near Chu Lai, Vietnam. “That certain area was pretty hairy,” he recalled.

His unit included a convoy that carried supplies—high explosives, illumination rounds, and even beer. As they drove through the jungle, Zayas remembers how the vegetation slapped against the sides of the trucks. “It was like going into a tunnel made of trees,” he said. “At treetop level, there were two Huey helicopters with gunners, crisscrossing in front of us, [watching out in case] we got ambushed. I heard the thump of the helicopter blades. I could see the faces of gunners and the see their ammo bounce as they fired.”

He also remembered weaponry that was like exploding darts. “They weren’t like darts you use at a bar. These were nails with wings,” he said. After a pause, he added, “Man is capable of miracles, and they’re also capable of the most evil [expletive] on the planet. If they used all that to make the Earth and humanity better, we’d be in the stars by now.”

In 1968, with only a month remaining of his tour, Zayas got word that his sister, who was only 19 at the time, was terminally ill with cancer. He was able to leave Vietnam and return home to be with his family, unsure if he’d eventually be sent back to finish his tour. His sister died and because Zayas was the only remaining child in his immediate family to carry on the family name, he received a hardship discharge.

“They made a mistake because I never had any kids!” he smirked. He noted he was married “a few times.”

After returning from Vietnam, Zayas played keyboards in bands during the 1970s, including a Latin jazz band called Under the Sun. He wrote most of the music and lyrics for the band. “We made it on the radio in Chicago, a station called Latin Explosion, with Juan Montenegro,” he said. “I called in to the station and raved, ‘Oh, that band was hot, can you play that again?’ There was no caller ID back then, so they didn’t know it was me.”

Zayas had also lived in Florida, where he made a living doing faux finish painting. “If I could do it on walls, I thought, ‘why not do it on a bike,’” he said, gesturing toward the Mad Max motorcycle.

Zayas’ friend and neighbor Cindy Secker and Pamela Webster helped organize the raffle.

Photographer Jason Kewley, known for taking shots of moving motorcycles while lying on the ground, took photos at the event.

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