16 Mus­cle Ma­niac

Australian Muscle Car - - Contents -

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.

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