Ask Revolva: Dating hoopers and pricing performances
On: September 10, 2013   |   By:   |   Under: Ask Revolva, Performance   |   Comments: 11 Comments
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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

Dear 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.


Money doesn’t grow on hula hoops. Or DOES it?!

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.

Click here to submit a question for future columns.

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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11 Comments to “Ask Revolva: Dating hoopers and pricing performances”
  • Cat the wife
    September 10, 2013 - Reply

    Useful advice wrapped up in a multicolour neon shiny lycra package. I love you, you incredibly readable, clever writer you :-)

      September 10, 2013 - Reply

      Thank you. I also love you. Possibly even more than I love unitards.

      • Cat the Wife
        September 11, 2013 - Reply

        Oh Revolva, you say the nicest things. I’ve just melted all over my workstation.

          September 13, 2013 - Reply

          Gross. Or sexy. One of those two.

  • Megan Smith
    September 11, 2013 - Reply

    How do you deal with time jealousy??? GET YOUR OWN HOBBY. My boyfriend and I have just moved in to our second place together. Last year, we moved into an apartment where I had a bedroom, and he had a band room. While this was AWESOME for him, and he developed so much as a musician, my needs for hooping were very much undercut. Without developing hobbies and recognizing the time and space investment necessary, there is no way you will ever feel the same euphoria that your partner feels from their hobbies.
    Now, we have a bedroom, a band room, and a HOOP ROOM. AND A BACKYARD. And I’ll tell you one thing- the comfort level that has settled upon us as artists has been insane. I almost don’t believe it. I fell in love with something that exists outside of him, and inside of me. I don’t find envy in his hours spent in his room, and I don’t find sarcasm when I express my happiness for all he has accomplished. We are, dare I say it, supporting our arts through our own means, and by outstretching that support to each other.
    And it is so, so very blissful.

      September 11, 2013 - Reply

      I’ve also dated musicians. It makes for a nice crossover because you can dance to their work. My very first show ever as Revolva was with my ex-boyfriend’s band. Also, I occasionally enjoy playing music myself. But you’re right, even though I recommended to “Square Dude” to try to bust through his feelings by understanding what his girlfriend loves (and there is a giddiness in hooping that might neutralize feelings of jealousy) — there’s something to be said for having slightly different interests. Glad your new situation is blissful! Living in the Bay Area, I’m personally jealous that you have all those rooms AND a backyard. Amazing.

  • Lila
    September 11, 2013 - Reply

    First, thank you for both subjects I had pleasure to read :)

    I do only hooping and my boyfriend is a fire breather and farely well involved in the juggling community in France. He always says he hates hooping because I always talk about that and i’m afraid he’s right. Now hooping is my first activity, passion and job, i sometimes feel even myself overwhelmed by the hoop. Being an artist himself, we have constant reviews towards each other and it’s hard to keep our both activites seperate (well i guess we spend more time talking about hooping than about fire stuff). I would recommend to be part of a community where you can let go all your hooping blablabla instead using your partner as a lover, friend, agent, adviser etc. This doesn’t mean not supporting each other of course.
    I can’t even imagine anymore being with someone that doesn’t understand what hooping means for us, what happiness we get from object manipulation/dancing.

    EJC has been particularly tough for me this year as my bf was constantly playing his “asshole arrogant fire breather” character (don’t worry he is a total gummy bear inside^^). But it’s also part of the game of stepping back when the other also need to shine. I liked your part about loving oneself and ego from getting more and more confident. I truly believe that but I also know that hoopers are so generous and generally not self-interested.

    And well… guys love girls hula hooping, just sayin

      September 11, 2013 - Reply

      Good points. I gravitate toward dating creative people, because conventional people are less aligned with my spirit. There are always things to consider, though, including how to do your own work while simultaneously best helping the other person shine. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Superhooper Lara
    September 12, 2013 - Reply

    Oh my gosh I am running around in circles like a dog trying to get it’s tail b/c I get to read you regularly again. Keep these great questions coming at her folks so we can bask in the freakin’ glory.

      September 13, 2013 - Reply

      Lara, you are one of my favorite bloggers, so — what a compliment. Thank you! (And by “glory,” did you mean “snark”?)

  • Fallon
    April 7, 2014 - Reply

    Well, I personally don’t take a piss without getting paid for it, either! :oP OMG that guy is pitch-perfect in his response. I could definitely watch it like, 50 more times!

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