Chasing the Dragon!



A few years back, we did a profile of Ryan Doyle, the creator of “Gon-KiRin,” a giant dragon. The beast is 22-1/2 feet tall and about 80 feet long, weighing in at 8 tons. It’s an “art car,” built onto the frame of an old Dodge W-300 Power Wagon with a 318 engine. There’s a 1,500-pound second-story DJ booth encased in steel wicker, mounted on a Marine Zodiac attack boat under the monster’s spine. The whole contraption can carry more than a dozen riders, with seats in the mouth and in a party couch on the back, where riders can make the tail sway back and forth. Hydraulic systems bring the front of it to life, and the driver can use a fire system to shoot flames from the fearsome creature’s mouth.

Two years ago, he and a group of artists who’ve come to Detroit from around the country held a party to celebrate the end of the world as predicted by Christian broadcaster Harold Camping. That party was a blast, at least what we can remember of it.

The reason we bring it up? They’re doing it again. This time, it’s loosely keyed to another momentous event: plans to colonize Mars. Of course, really, it’s just a raucous fundraiser aimed at getting the dragon out to Grand Rapids for the ArtPrize competition. (It can cost a great deal of money to disassemble the big guy for shipping, re-assembly, and final breakdown and re-shipping.) Partygoers can expect to see the dragon (naturally), a jet-powered whirligig called the Regurgitator that spins in circles fast enough to give riders 5 G’s. The revelry will also feature DJs, live music and other fun. For a $10 suggested donation, it will be the livest party in town. It starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, in a large, outdoor lot on the corner of Lincoln Street (Trumbull Street) and Marquette Avenue, in Detroit’s New Center area.

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