Ask Revolva: Are hoopers annoying, how to fill classes, rad stage makeup, being non-offensive
On: April 6, 2014   |   By:   |   Under: Uncategorized   |   Comments: 5 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 concern filling classes, annoying things about hoopers, the best eye makeup for performance, and how to refer to people who are below  4’10” tall without being offensive. Click here to submit a question for future columns.


Dear Revolva,

I live in a small town and got addicted to hooping last year. I decided that hooping in isolation was a bummer and started to rent space out and recruited my extended family to come and hang out while I faked my way through teaching a hoop class. Now, I’m working on getting certified, which gives me awesome confidence, except the numbers have dropped for my class this past summer and I want to build up the community. I’m posting ads online, flyers at the university, and I made a website and am using Facebook to connect with others. But the hoopers aren’t coming out! I’m getting a bit discouraged. Any tips for how I can build a hoop community?

- Lonely Hooper


Dear Lonely Hooper,

You know when you’re at Trader Joe’s, and you bypass the circular, with the gloriously drawn images of food, because you just can’t be bothered to spend two seconds contemplating a piece of paper? Or when you’re surfing the web (do people still say that?), and a sidebar ad causes you think, “Ew! How did this algorithm even know that I LIKE moon boots anyway?”


“Care for a yogurt dab with one grape in it? It’s free.”

I believe the above feelings are universal. So even when folks encounter an ad for something as fun as hula hooping, a kill switch flips in their brains, and they can no longer do anything but ignore the ad while frantically returning their attention to the Facebook news feed.

Fear not, however, because to revisit the Trader Joe’s analogy, what fool has ever stepped foot in that store without bee lining for the free sample counter to get a single bite of pasta? No one! If I do not get a thimble of Trader Joe’s free coffee, my entire shopping experience has been a farce. I might as well have gone to Safeway, and I HATE SAFEWAY.

This is a long way of saying that there is an effective way to build a hoop community, and it is not ads; its: free samples! Take your hoops to the park, to a busy street corner, to a farmer’s market—to wherever people already are; don’t wait for them to come to you—and just encourage their free use. Do this every week. Hand out class fliers there, while people are hooping. I used to busk in San Francisco on Saturdays, and between my street shows, I would let people try a “free sample” of hooping. I cannot tell you how many gigs, private lessons and hoop sales I booked just off of those moments, when people (who were otherwise walking somewhere else) stopped to try an activity with which they had no previous experience.

I’m no data expert, but I bet if there are 30 local hoopers, and your class is on Tuesday night, five of them will be free, two of them will consider going, and one will actually show up. For a more lively scene, you’ll need more and more and more people—those who don’t already hoop—to become intrigued. Ads and Facebook pages can act as supporting material, but it’s only real life experience that will convert new hoopers, especially against the common misconception, “That’s for kids! I could never do it.”

In short, we may be numb to advertising, but people will make their grocery shopping choices based entirely on the visceral experience of eating one free cracker. So give as many people as possible the hooping equivalent of a free sip of coffee. You will eventually hit a tipping point where enough local folks are hooked and begin to form their weekly schedule around your class.


Dear Revolva,

Midgets, dwarfs, short people, and/or little people, leave me confused about how they feel comfortable being described. I am not overly comfortable being called a white person (I am sort of a medium-rare crayola peachy person who knows nothing about the caucasus mountains). I understand that White is a convenient label, so I don’t fret about it. What is the least offensive, yet most descriptive way to address this issue?



Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for contacting me with this question, as it is apparent from my life’s work that I am a leading expert in non-offensive labeling. And unitards. Non-offensive labeling and unitards. I guess my first bit of advice would be to use Google, however, as the advice columnist, I have done this for you. Here is a concise statement from the Little People of America website.

“Such terms as dwarf, little person, LP, and person of short stature are all acceptable, but most people would rather be referred to by their name than by a label.” So, there you have it. Use “Samantha” or “John,” unless height is a necessary detail in describing that person, and then choose from the previous terms.

gotprivilegeIn reference to an ambivalence around “white” and the understanding that it’s just a convenient label, I’d also like to point out, as a fellow white (yet more or less beige) person, that “white” has a long history of being attached to people in a position of cultural privilege. “White” doesn’t carry the same weight as terms attached to people who have been oppressed in various ways.

If we ever find ourselves paraded around in a sideshow, as a result of our “whiteness,” by all means, we should find a descriptive term for ourselves that’s not attached to the idea that we are freaks. Since that has never been the case for us, the best we can do is try to understand how it might feel to live under the banner of a term that makes us feel less than worthy—and then never apply that term to someone else. Thanks for your conscientious search, via Google, as accessed by me, into how not to be offensive!


Dear Revolva,

What’s your favorite brand of eye makeup for performing? Do you rock the fake eyelashes? If so, what type?

Dear Francesca,

Not many people know this about me, but I am the Honey Badger of stage makeup. I have so many props, costume pieces and hoops for most of my theatrical acts that I literally don’t give a sh— and bring my makeup to shows in a ziplock bag. Classy? No. Practical? Yes. It takes up the least amount of space; one more little suitcase thing would put me over the edge.

So I do like to keep things rather simple. My absolute staple is Graftobian Cosmetic Powdered Metal, in silver. I use it as a base for all kinds of eye makeup jobs, and sometimes I paint glitter over it.category452

I also paint on lots of black liquid liner before attaching fake eyelashes, and HELL YES I rock the fake eyelashes. These can only be re-used so many times before they just wear out, so to be honest, keeping with my Honey Badger-ness, I just get the kind sold at Gloria Beauty Supply in Oakland, CA because they have the best selection for the best prices (around $2.99 for the ones with rhinestones). Never buy fake eyelashes in San Francisco, because they will try to charge you $10 per pair, even in the Mission. (Look, just because the tech boom raised rents to $1200 per bedroom does not mean that fake eyelashes prices can go up that high without variety acts calling bullshit!)

628x471And if you are ever in San Francisco, I just wanted to give a shout out to one of my favorite places to buy makeup, which is Retro Fit, at 20th and Velencia. Owner Steven LeMay (pictured at right) is a consummate performer with a refreshing, sassy sense of humor. I was recently in Retro Fit, replacing the Graftobian, and I asked Steven LeMay what he might tell “Ask Revolva” readers, if he had to choose one absolutely necessary eye makeup item.

“A black pencil is great because it can fill in your brows and give you some liner so that your eyes are more defined,” he recommended, before noticing my own eyebrows are blond and recommending frosty powder for me, since, “What are you going to do, make your eyebrows MORE BLOND?” Exactly. To each his or her own, and Retro Fit sells a great Kryolan eye pencil, as well as the Graftobian, and some other Ben Nye and Kryolan offerings, in a store chock full of vintage clothing, all with entertaining customer service.

You can also catch Steven LeMay in “Shit & Champagne” Fridays and Saturdays at Rebel, through the end of April.

If the honey badger wore stage makeup, it would totally be Graftobian silver. In a plastic. Effing. Bag.


Dear Revolva,

Okay. All hoopers talk about what’s GREAT about the hooping community. But it can’t all be great, now, can it? What quirk about hoopers has been known to annoy you?



Dear Lara,

Whoa! Helen Thomas passed away last year, so thanks for carrying on her tradition by asking the truly tough questions. If there was the hooping equivalent of the White House press corp, I would totally kick you out of it. Since I can’t, I’ll just answer.

I guess I’ve always been suspect of any aesthetic trend that becomes “the thing” and identifies people as part of a group. So one quirk of the hoop community that is not my favorite is a shifting idea of a “hooper look.”  In 2005, it was furry legwarmers. Then, it was feathers. Then, it was onesies. Now, maybe it’s some harem pants.DSCF8326

I opened the Revolva Rock Store with my own weird idea of fun fashion. If unitards and glam pants became too much of a thing, I’d probably start selling tank tops made out of woven grasses. I believe marginally in the goodness of a subculture, but mostly in the radness of being an individual. So I don’t think anyone should feel pressured to look a certain way, in order to be accepted. Wear whatever you please, hoopers of the future!

And Lara, you are now officially kicked out of Ask Revolva, until you bust your way back in and ask me something even more controversial. Come on, girl, make Helen Thomas proud.

Revolva serves as an unlicensed advice columnist in her spare time, for free. If you like her articles, feel free to donate $1, $5 or $100K to her ability to write even more non-client funded work, by using the button below. Or visit the Revolva Rock Store and support an independent artist by buying some weirdo spandex gear that contains zero percent Muppet fur.

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5 Comments to “Ask Revolva: Are hoopers annoying, how to fill classes, rad stage makeup, being non-offensive”
  • Kara
    April 6, 2014 - Reply

    Dear Revolva, I love your writing. I really don’t care much about eye makeup brands either. But I read every word of your column because you are so darn funny, smart and unique. Keep on rocking! Love, Kara

      April 8, 2014 - Reply

      Thanks, girl! Honey Badgers unite!

  • Nickalina
    April 8, 2014 - Reply

    Thank you for your post and for letting me know that I’m annoying people with Hooper spam as I’ve heard it called. I’ve been slowly bringing hoopdance to my area. With my first workshop coming up I’ve flooded all my pages with all things hoop related. So this post really made me think, let’s try to simmer down. People maybe interested in what your doing yet they’re not committed to paying. I plan on starting my free class again with a local non profit.

      April 8, 2014 - Reply

      Aw, well, don’t be hard on yourself, Nickalina! I don’t know that “hooper spam” is annoying as much as it just doesn’t necessarily achieve the desired results of getting more new students out to a class. It really is hard for people to know how fun and *accessible* it is to use modern “hoopdance” style hoops without trying them. So all I was saying, in a humorous way, is that putting some effort toward allowing people to freely try hoopdance, in a community where they may have never before seen modern hooping—is what will get them hooked. People can ignore ads, and they may also not necessarily see the connection between an image of someone else hula hooping—and their own bodies. Anyway, a non-profit class is one way to build community. Or if you don’t want to teach for free (which you don’t have to), it’s also beneficial to just have a pile of hoops at a park and let people try them, while you walk around in a casual way, and then hand out fliers for the class where people *do* have to pay to get the full, dedicated instruction. Your time and effort have value. :) I wish you the best of luck in bringing hooping to your community. If the past decade of its total explosion, all around the world, is any indication, I can guarantee that your work will pay off! I am sure you will have a blossoming and growing community of hoopers in no time.

  • Nickalina
    April 13, 2014 - Reply

    My lady, I need these words after today. :) I guess I don’t understand why people are so scared of a circle object. Your right, you have to feel it for yourself. I’ve engaged people when I had a brief stint at a local y, yet it was like they were off put by me asking for them to join or even play with it. Sore subject. Haha. I did get your joke too. I’ve done a class with the non profit before and they are supportive of my art, so for them free doesn’t bother me, just gives me more exposure. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement as this communal outreach continues. Sometimes when I think I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time, I get word that I’m in the right place and the time is right. Really, Revola thank you.

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