The Fuel Girls

The Fuel Girls have a relationship with fire that can only be contained on stage!

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As the melodic tendrils of Born To Be Wild (J2 featuring Blu Holliday) infect the audience Kat, dressed as Poison Ivy, soars higher and higher, flames surrounding her while she holds on to the tether via only her neck muscles.

But the music isn’t the only sound. Murmurs become words and the crowds join in with “wow”, “awesome” and “amazing”, which is soon joined by cheers. The Fuel Girls have taken over the Sydney Tattoo Expo and are nothing short of spectacular.

These strong, powerful women excel at engaging their audience and at creating shows that are unique and physically challenging, in turn ensuring they are in great demand worldwide.

They have been together for almost 14 years. Von and Vanessa were the founding members, bringing the group together at a time when the modified car scene was huge. As the girls reputation grew, they attended huge car shows like Max Power Live in the UK and Hot Import Nights in the USA. At the time they were performing basic versions of their fire shows on stage and driving sick ass Fuel Girl cars, like a matte black, modified Dodge Challenger or their hand painted Mazda Rx7. They got to tour the world, get drunk, cause mayhem, hang with celebs, drive in crazy car rallies, tour with Motörhead and even pilot their own powerboat competition.

The high speed car drifting led them to bigger arenas and stunt shows, they were living on the edge, and boy oh boy did they create stories! But just as they grew up so did the scene. The girls were invited to more tattoo shows where, by their own admission, the audiences were more discerning meaning they were forced to push themselves to explore and expand who they were as performers.

For the past eight years they have been developing their shows and have worked hard to create stage performances that include many difficult skills – primarily aerial – while also developing their fire shows into something pretty darn spectacular! These days the Fuel Girls are known for their creative and pretty exceptional stage shows and not for their wild behaviour! Although, invite them to a great party and you never know!

The Fuel Girls present a pyrotechnic wonderland often in Mad Max-inspired attire (more Thunderdome, than Fury Road), with their thrills and spills coming from death defying stunts all set to a great rockin’ beat. Much of what you’ll read of the girls is trivial or frivolous, some stories are just a list of adjectives about their physical assets. But what is blatantly obvious with these stories is that the writers haven’t stood in a crows transfixed as the fire twirls around the stage almost as if it has a mind of its own and only its master can control it.

A YouTube clip doesn’t do them justice. Even more obvious is they haven’t taken the time to meet the girls or pay attention to the time they give to their admirers or even their work ethic.

Yes, the girls are sexy. That’s not questionable. They train hard and performances are taxing, not to mention the fact the outfits aren’t your standard comfy tee and jeans. Latex and heat and sweat, even buckets of baby powder can’t solve everything (latex-loving ladies will know what that means!). But the Fuel Girls are ultimately much more. They’re strong and serve as positive role models for young girls, and the only proof needed is watching young girls’ faces as they are showered with not only time but the loving attention of the Fuel Girls during meet and greets. These entertainers devote time after every performance to meeting people and often speak to security to extend their time so that kids and a group of special needs visitors have the chance to get photos and to talk to the girls.

As their manager Hannah Welsby confirms: “I have managed the Fuel Girls for nearly 15 years now and a requirement is that the girls are nice people! It doesn’t matter how good-looking you are if you’re not nice. This seems to work well over the years and we have a lot of repeat bookings year on year as shows just genuinely like the girls!” She’s right! It goes a long way.

As the end of the performance nears Teta, dressed as Marvel’s Storm, decorates the air with fire. Prongs of flames seem flare and engulf her from her fire fans as she moves across the stage. The ultimate rock chick Teta has a collection of tattoos from her travels around the world, including a vibrant full back piece of a dancing fox and a full sleeve Alice in Wonderland theme. Coming from a dance background, one of her most memorable performances includes fire dancing, breathing and eating en pointe. But as she proves in a later performance she is just as comfortable high above the crowd in an aerial hoop, or with a ribbon, fan or angle grinder. After the final bows she stepped off the stage to applause and, after what seemed like a hundred photos, took time to talk to us about what it is to be a Fuel Girl.

Inked: How did you become a part of the group?
Teta: A friend of mine suggested Fuel Girls to me. She said “They’re a group of girls who dance to metal, drink whisky and blow fire, you’d fit right in!” I looked them up and thought, this is the best job ever, and couldn’t believe they were London-based. So I sent an email and the rest is history!

As a world travelling whisky-drinking performer, where have you travelled for work? I’ve been all over the world with the girls! All over Europe, the USA, Asia and some unusual places that I certainly would have never been to, like Saudi Arabia. Our recent trip to Sydney, to the Australian Tattoo Expo, is a highlight for sure, it was my first time to Australia and we met some incredible people, I can’t wait to come back!

What’s it like being part of such a strong team of woman? It’s such an honour to work with such strong, talented women. It’s so inspiring and a joy to spend time with them. We are very close, like sisters, most of us talk every day and socialise often away from work. We’re a pretty tight group, and that’s what is so special about Fuel Girls. We have been together for some time and it wouldn’t work if anyone were just in it for themselves. We work well together and look out for each other – the group comes first! That way it works for everyone and there are no divas!

Do you have one place you call home? Home for me is definitely London, though I split my time between there and Macau. I love being on the road though and I always get a major come down when I come home. We tour every year with a huge FMX show called Masters of Dirt, they are like our second family. We spend time with them out in Austria and I always feel sad when that comes to an end.

How was your time in Australia, what did you and the girls think? We had a great time in Australia at the Australian Tattoo Expo, which was such a great show. Luckily we had some down time to relax after, so we went to the beach to soak up some of the atmosphere and even did some fitness training around the harbour, which probably raised a few eyebrows! We always do live streams on Facebook or stories on Instagram when we travel, so we were showing off a bit to our followers, showing them the scenery and our new bikinis (thanks budgy smugglers!). A high point for me was meeting some fellow Australian fire performers who were great to hang out with, I love making new friends on tour!

Your tattoos are amazing, what was your first tattoo and how did you decide to get it? I always wanted tattoos but couldn’t because I was a dancer and back then I would have found it hard to get work. My first tattoo was some writing on my ankle that reads “Full of Grace” a reference to my dancing background. Now I get to dance and have tattoos, so this is my dream job really!

Do you now have one artist? My two big pieces, my back piece and my sleeve are by a girl called Inma, who funnily enough has just moved out to Australia! I saw her at the convention, which was great. A few of my tattoos have been acquired on my travels, which are great as they tell a story (and there are usually pretty good stories behind them) [laughs].

Do you have to pick and choose when you get tattooed so that it doesn’t cause problems with performances? I won’t get tattooed before a big show or before I have to do aerial as I don’t fancy the pain of trying to heal and doing something physical! I try and fix it so that I have a quiet period when doing a long sitting, so I don’t have to be swollen and peeling at shows too soon afterward.

What have been some of the highlights of your career with the Fuel Girls? [There are] so many! The ones that come to mind are performing with Motörhead and hanging with the amazing Lemmy, our tours with Masters of Dirt, the London Tattoo Convention which is where we showcase our newest shows for the first time and without a doubt the festival tour we did with Fall Out Boy last year, that was just insane! I still pinch myself.

What do you love performing the most and why? I enjoy performing fire en pointe as it’s kind of my signature and it mixes my ballet background with fire dancing and tricks.

And what are the next big things coming up for the girls? Every year keeps getting bigger and better. We have just returned from Masters of Dirt Vienna, which was one of our strongest and biggest performances to date. This year I look forward to getting more countries ticked off the list – we would love to tour the US and to join another big band on tour. We will have to see how things go and push our manager for that. We are about to launch our own Fuel Girls clothing line, which will be available in our new store – so please go and check it out! We are so excited about this and really look forward to expanding on our range, especially into fitness wear, as this is a big love of ours – who would have thought it back in the day? We have a lot of die-hard Fuel Girls fans, so it’s exciting now that they can get some Fuel Girls merch online. We hope they like it.

And finally of course – the main event will be coming back to Australia at the end of the year. Kevin, the organiser of the Australian Tattoo Expo, has asked us to come back to his shows in Perth and Melbourne, which we are really looking forward to. We would love to come for longer, rent a van and do a bit of travelling around – we will of course take all our social media followers with us, so you don’t have to miss a thing and if there are any readers that want to give us advice on what to see and do in Australia – just let us know!


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Words by Vanessa Morgan  Photographs by Haris Nukem