Ask Revolva: Dating hoopers and pricing performances
Ask Revolva is an ongoing column, in which the public expresses confusion about anything from hooping and performance, to career counseling and tax advice (actually, don’t ask about the latter) — and Revolva answers, with wit and wisdom. This week’s questions center around relationships and gig quoting, both of which can be equally heartbreaking and rewarding. Click here to submit a question for future columns.
Q: Dear Revolva: I think my girlfriend loves her hula hoop more than me. What do I do? — Square Dude
Dear Square Dude,
I hate to break it to you, but your girlfriend does love something more than she loves you. It’s not her hoop, though. It’s her SELF.
Hooping makes you feel like a five-year-old playing on the playground and Beyonce rocking halftime at the Superbowl – all at once. It causes your endorphins to hold hands and skip around inside your mood. This feeling is addictive, and because hooping is less expensive and less harmful than crack, it becomes a “fix” that people use as a healthy boost to the self.
While emphasizing that hooping leads to greater confidence, relaxation, feelings of sexiness and badassery (all things that would be desirable in a partner), I will empathize with the fact that your girlfriends’ compulsion to hoop during dinner, or instead of coming to bed – might be disconcerting, if you were hoping to do things like speak words to her or eat food together. So, what do you do?
No worries. Channel Beyonce around the 2:00 mark. You can “Work it out.”
There are basically two choices. One – you can just know that she is doing self care, not ignoring you, during her hoop sessions, and the results of her time in the hoop will probably make her happier and more pleasant to be around during the times that her focus returns to you.
The other option, however, might be better for both of you. That option is: SHARE that passion. Pick up a hoop yourself, dude! Hoop WITH her. Understand this thing she loves, and get a bit of that hoop crack yourself.
Steve Bags, male hooper of the year, was sitting next to me while I was composing this at the Lake Tahoe Flow Arts Festival. I asked him for a piece of advice, regarding men and hoops. He says, “Take up hoop – and you’ll need your girlfriend less anyway.”
Bags may have been implying that once you hoop, hella other women will want to jump your bones because there still aren’t very many male hoopers (this is how Bags managed to pull Valentina Martin). However, I’ll give him credit and assume he meant that when both partners have a passion, they don’t have to cling just to each other to feel like life has meaning. And that’s a good thing.
You know what they say, “If you love someone, set her free. If she comes back – hula hoop with her!” Cliches contain a lot of truth.
Bags proves that hooping is not just for girls. It’s also for British hippies in patchwork pants.
Dear Revolva, How did you start off pricing your performances? I’ve been in a performance troupe that, so far, has only ever gotten tips and a small percentage of the door, which is usually barely enough to pay for gas. How do you go about putting a value on the performance that you do, and then go about getting people to pay you that money? – Joe
Years ago, when I was starting out in Detroit, I wrote to a Los Angeles-based performer and asked her this same question. The number she quoted to me, that should be my bottom line for every performance, was so high that I spit coffee on my computer. Not because I didn’t think I was worth it – but because it was totally unrealistic to ask for that much in Detroit.
So how do you go about putting a value on performances? First of all, consider your market in which you perform and the type of show you are aspiring to do within that market. You will never make as much playing the bar down the street as you will at a corporate holiday party.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do local variety reviews or work off the beaten path (the halftime show I did for a wiener dog race in Pendelton, OR was a highlight of my life!). It just means that even if smaller shows are hella fun and allow the most creative control, you can’t be unrealistic and demand hundreds of dollars to do your act at a local coffee shop. The organizers simply don’t have it.
If you want to make more of your living off of performing, first make sure you have a professional product – videos, website, reviews, promo materials – and the tenacity to keep connecting your performance troupe with gigs that actually do pay in accordance with your outgoing energy/costs. (See this article I wrote on an entertainer’s never ending workload.) The most sustainable gigs are corporate events or private events thrown by people who can afford a realistic entertainment budget. The least well-paid gigs are often local bar shows, although that’s a great place to start out, to gather footage and reviews — or to just have fun.
To get better at wrapping your mind around quoting, research rates for everything you might possibly ever do – corporate events, festival roaming, birthday parties, variety shows, school assemblies – and go from there. Talk to other people in your market who have been performing for a while, and ask them what is realistic. It’s an awkward thing to talk about, but you can tell them that you’re concerned about not wanting to undercut them. Only the professional performers in your general market could give you a specific idea about what to charge for various types of shows where you live.
Now, on to the second part of your question: getting people to pay you. After figuring out the going rates in your area, make a sheet of your own individual bottom line, for each type of show. For example, maybe your bottom line is, “I can’t do roaming entertainment for less than $200 per hour.” You can adjust that number as you need, based on individual situations, but having a general idea of what to charge makes for a more confident pitch.
“Um, drink tickets and exposure? I can’t go for that.”
Once you have your set rates – ask for them. Repeatedly. People will say yes. People will say no. People will negotiate. It’s all okay. It takes way more work than many folks realize to develop physical skills, rehearse them, buy costumes and set pieces and makeup and props, market yourself, get your work out there, design and print promo materials, etc.
Organizers will always want to pay you in drink tickets and “exposure,” even if drunk hooping would cause you to vomit on an audience that contains exactly zero people who will ever hire you again. It’s your job to set your rates, and then do fun/lower-paid shows if you want to – but practice a “just say no” policy when you’re asked to do a fifteen-minute fire show for free, just because an event is hoping you’ll be thrilled to stand in front of a crowd.
In short: be confident. Ask for what you’re worth, and do rate research so you don’t undercut other entertainers. At the same time, be aware that if you’re concentrating all your energy on local shows that are barely scraping by, you will always receive a low-budget return. I wish you lots of success with your troupe. And if all else fails, before you bid on gigs, watch this Harlan Ellison video at least 50 times.
Also, click on the picture below to visit the REVOLVA ROCK STORE. Let ME dress you for success. In unitards. And space leggings.
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