16 Muscle Maniac
This is the first time we’ve featured a muscle car owned by a professional circus performer who is able to lift a washing machine with her hair! The car in question is a VJ Valiant Charger. We also check out the work of artist and Torana owner Paul White. Theme song: anything from Cold Chisel’s ‘Circus Animals’ album.
Muscle car owners are a varied group, ranging from university professors to those who empty rubbish bins at 4am. But this is the first time we’ve heard of one owned by a professional circus performer who is able to lift a washing machine with her hair.
Her name is Simone Genziuk and she got in touch to tell us about her beloved VJ Valiant Charger 770 she bought in 2004.
She calls her Limelight-coloured Charger ‘Adel the Val’ and it’s part of her rockabilly image.
“I work and perform with my husband and sometimes our three-year-old daughter,” she says. “We also perform as sideshow stunt artists. In our last gig my husband was run over by a motorbike while lying on a bed of nails.”
Simi, as she likes to be called, got into circus performance when she was travelling around Australia picking fruit. One of the other pickers had worked in the circus and told her she had the perfect physique for the trapeze. She started training and was performing within six months.
Her speciality is high-danger aerial stunts and her signature piece, as shown here, is the hair hang. In case you’re wondering (we were) that’s a real washing-machine with the motor installed. It weighs around 75kg.
Her Charger is a 1974 model, 265ci, automatic, in close to original condition, with around 70,000 miles on the clock. It has been fitted with a VJ Regal sedan grille. The duco and brown interior is all original. She bought it from an elderly Italian man who lived in the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir. There was one previous owner who lived in Shepparton.
“I knew I was on to something when he said to me in broken English: ‘I don’t take it outa in da rain.’ It was in such good nick. Straight body, no rust, engine ran well, basic but good. It’s just as it was in 1974.”
As soon as she got it home she removed the mud flaps with reflectors on them, plus all the other reflectors that were strategically placed
all over the car. There was also a large Ford insignia on the bonnet. That came straight off.
When Simi first bought Adel she took it on tour of regional Victoria with Circus Royale, performing for two weeks at a time in country towns before tearing down the big top and heading to the next venue. The Charger really loves the open roads and she loves driving it out in the country.
In 2006 she was presented with a trophy at the Victorian Charger Club’s ‘Show and Shine’ Day. She won the Tim Smith Award, named after the Melbourne comedian who is also a huge Charger fan.
From 2007 to 2009 she drove Adel to all her gigs, often attracting a lot of unwanted attention, especially when she was in costume.
“I was followed more than once,” she says. “Guys giving me their numbers when I was pulled up at the traffic lights! It was mental.”
In 2010 she decided to do some minor repairs, reconditioning the gearbox and fitting a new radiator. Her daughter Goldie was born that year. She too loves Adel and likes to get in and pretend to drive. Simi is currently having a break while her daughter takes up most of her time but she and husband Shep Huntly will be back performing soon in their own show, The World Sideshow Festival Festival, scheduled for Ballarat, May 21-23, 2015.
Shep is noted for his ability to lift extremely heavy objects with the various piercings attached to all parts of his his body. One of their fellow artists will be the Space Cowboy, a legendary performer who holds the world record for swordswallowing, among others.
Meanwhile Adel is temporarily off the road awaiting a few more minor repairs. Simi wants to keep it in its near-original condition because that’s the way she likes them. That’s the way we like them too.