Being an author of erotic romance is a truly wonderful career, and one of the most exciting, precious things about it is the incredible, diverse and supremely talented people that I get to meet. Please extend a warm welcome to The Brit Babes great friend and Hula Hoop Dancer, Helen Orford…
Helen, thank you so much for taking the time to visit the Brit Babes, we’re so thrilled that you’re here. I absolutely have to ask, because I’m fascinated and intrigued and in awe, tell me about your job, what do you do on a daily basis and is there any kind of routine to being a Hula Hoop Artist?
The thing with my job is that there is no routine and rarely ever any repetition from week to week. To me this is more exciting than anything else! Some weeks I could be working all day doing admin (there is always A LOT of paperwork with my job), and then rush off to an early evening corporate event in central London, followed by a late night cabaret in Soho. And the next day I could be travelling to Birmingham to perform on live TV at a high class, international sporting event. And then some days I’m twiddling my thumbs wondering what to do with all the spare time I have! Usually I fill it with more admin work, training and practicing my skills. Without my diary I would be completely lost.
I had a Hula-Hoop as a kid, I was okay at it but you take it to a whole new level. How did you start Hula-Hooping and did you know it was something you were seriously good at from the start?
To begin with when I was 14, I was training swinging trapeze in the evenings after school. However taking turns on the trapeze meant that we were often just stood watching the others. I took it upon myself to use the time to learn another skill - hula hooping. After working in a travelling circus for a couple of seasons performing my aerial acts on the trapeze and silks, I was accepted onto the BaHons degree course at The National School for Circus Arts (formerly Circus Space). I specialised in hula hooping and trained for many hours every day to hone my skills. I graduated with a First Class Honours degree and was awarded student of the year. It started out as a fun little hobby to fill time, and now it’s my full time career!
What do you do to work out?
I often hear the phrase, ‘you must be so fit doing what you do!’; but truth be told, I only really do 5-10 minutes exercise a day (which is while performing my hula hooping acts). So it was quite a shock leaving university; going from training for 6-7 hours a day to doing 10 minutes!! So to help keep fit I swim regularly and go to the gym for classes.
To what exotic places has your work taken you?
Due to commitments in London such as my pets, family and boyfriend, I tend to avoid long contracts abroad. Despite this, I have been lucky enough to perform in many wonderful places. I’ve been to France to represent my circus university at a circus school there, and have hula hooped ALL over the UK in amazing and spectacular venues and events. My favourite so far was when I performed at the very top of the Shard on New Year’s Eve; the views were completely spectacular and it was one of those moments where I took a step back and realised how truly lucky I am to do what I love.
Would your job be inspiring for a romance author? Are there lots of hot guys and gals around?
A large proportion of my work is performing in cabarets and variety shows in London, and often I’m the sole variety act amongst burlesque and boylesque acts. This means that I am constantly surrounded by absolutely gorgeous, almost naked performers. In addition, working a lot alongside circus acts in some shows means that I see a lot of strong and sexy circus boys and girls too. However, there IS such a thing as too much of a good thing, and I can assure you that I became completely desensitised to muscles and nudity very early on!!! It takes a lot to phase me nowadays I’m afraid!
Have you ever been involved in any dangerous acts?
I used to perform a bed of nails act when performing in the travelling circus. I would lie face down on a bed of nails with another bed of nails on top of me. Then the clown would come in and place a fizzy drinks can on top and smash it flat with a sledgehammer. That was always a crowd pleaser! I even did hula hoop tricks in that act, lying on my back on the nails and hula hooping around my feet in the air. I am always looking for new ways to make my acts that extra bit interesting and exciting.
Tell me a little about the amazing costumes I see you wearing. Do you have them made specially? Do you get a say in their design?
I design all my costumes myself, and once I’ve got a solid idea in my head I then take my drawings to my wonderful costume designer/creator. We sit down and talk about logistics (of mainly how I’m going to get in and out of them!), and then she spends a good while convincing me to allow her to add literally thousands of Swarovski crystals to it (if you look at pictures of my costumes you’ll see that she always gets her way!). A couple of fittings, and a good few hundred pounds later, I have the most fabulous costumes, which look absolutely amazing on stage.
Who is the most exciting/famous/interesting person/people you’ve performed for?
I’ve performed for plenty of celebrities, from reality TV stars from The Only Way Is Essex, to Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, to Mary Portas ‘Queen of Shops’ to name a few. But my all-time favourite has to be HRH Prince Charles. However, he spent most of the time staring at my bum, and there’s even photographic evidence to prove it! HAHA!
Any funny incidents that you can share with us?
Plenty of hilarious backstage antics go on all the time, but unfortunately what happens backstage, stays backstage!!
The Brit Babes are all writers, do you have time to read or are you whacked out at the end of the day? – (if you are reading something what’s your current book?)
I love reading, and have recently invested in a Kindle, which has resulted in even more reading!! I used to enjoy books from the BritBabes while waiting backstage to go on to perform, but after reading one incredibly hot chapter in a Kay Jaybee book, and then rushing onstage, I was so distracted by the story that I completely forgot my entire routine and had to improvise the act!! Since then I’ve stopped reading all your wonderful books before going onstage and save them for after instead!! I’m currently reading ‘Black Heart’ by Zak Jane Keir, and next on my list (and already saved onto my Kindle) are ‘Kinky Boots’ by KD Grace, ‘Hired’ by Lily Harlem and I also have the paperback, ‘Temping Rendezvous’ by Victoria Blisse waiting for me! I can’t wait to get stuck into all of them and more!
Twitter - @HelenOrfordHoop
Thanks so much for stopping by, Helen, it's been wonderful to have you as our guest.