Uniroyal Gal Becomes Nitro Girl
In 1965 Ed Werbany bought a fiberglass giantess Uniroyal Gal for $300 and stationed her outside of his tire store in Hilltop, NJ. Nicknamed "The Doll," she originally wore a bikini. Ed changed her outfit to a green skirt and teal top, in deference to Jackie Kennedy, who she resembled.
Now, 40 years later, Ed's son has engineered the transformation of Jackie into Nitro Girl. He has inadvertently created America's first superhero giantess. Uniroyal Gals have been modified into waitresses, cheerleaders, go-go girls, and a host of sexy Sirens, but never a woman with a headband and a cape.
"I heard that 'Super Woman' would be coming out in a few of years," Ed Jr. told us, although we think that he meant the planned film of Wonder Woman, "so I figured we'd be ahead of the curve."
"We got Pelosi up there, we got Hillary up there," he added. "Next year we could have a woman president. I figured, you know, this might be a woman's world, so we'd better make our woman look a little better."
Ed hired two local women artists to create the design and repaint the statue. Karen Baxter and Linda M. Shelley took three weeks (it could have been two, but the weather was bad) to patch up Nitro Girl and give her the new look. They did it the hard way, on site, building a scaffold up and around the 18-foot-tall statue just off of busy Hwy 168.
Their design is a wise hybrid, suggesting Super Girl and Wonder Woman, but never coming too close to either to stir up comic book lawyers. The statue was given a facial, superhero boots and gloves, a headband and skirt of stars, a W with wings on a breastplate, and a cape of light fabric that moves with the wind. The tire that she held in her upraised hand has been painted with stars and the Nitro Girl name.
"Everyone's so pleased that she's got a makeover," Karen told us, referring to the frequent honking horns and thumbs-up given by passing motorists. "It's nice to be part of a new path. We had so much fun, I can't believe that people call that work."[07/15/2007]