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Hula Hell Is Miss Saturn – The Whirling Dervish Of Fun (Clown Festival)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on September 17, 2010

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Miss Saturn (Photo by Paule Saviano)

Miss Saturn (Photo by Paule Saviano)

Hula Hell Is Miss Saturn? you ask?  Or, to rephrase a bit . . . Who The Hell Is Miss Saturn? you ask?

That’s me giving you an assist on how to parse the title, since (quite frankly) until Miss Saturn herself shouted it from backstage it wasn’t quite as punny to my ear. That’s okay – I’m sure Miss Saturn (given name: Jennifer McGowan) is fine with me facilitating her in this instance, since a lot of her act relies on the audience’s willingness to actively participate in a good half of the performance.  If you’re up for the task, Hula Hell is a helluva good time.

Less of a ‘show’ and more of an ‘experience’ Hula Hell comes off like an hour spent with that favorite babysitter – the one who did everything in her power to make sure that while you were with her you were thoroughly amused.  Saturn works her butt off to make sure everyone in the audience is engaged, happy, loosened up, and just having a hoopy good time.  Heck, she even gifts everyone in the audience with an invisible hula hoop of their very own that she first lets you test drive from the comfort of your own seat.  She seems to have an endless bag of tricks and when all else fails (or falls) she relies on the broad back of her considerable personality to carry the audience over to the next  hula scenario.  The result is charmingly homespun.

My only complaint (and I do have one) is that when Miss Saturn actually gets down to hula hooping she’s amazing at what she does, and I could have done with a lot more of it – and a lot sooner.  In fact, Miss Saturn doesn’t really move past crazy stunt hoops and funny spiels (A Contest ladies and gents!) until very close to the end when (quite frankly) having not really seen too many skills I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Photo by Paule Saviano

Photo by Paule Saviano

But then!!  . . . When all those hoops are whizzing, whirling, spinning and swirling -  it’s a thing of beauty.  This is one gal who has perfected the art – and her gravitational pull is so strong that she has these rings doing things I didn’t think were possible.  Which is not to say I’m only asking for serious hooping here – when she did a bit that involved spinning madly while an audience member chased her around adding more and more hoops to the dozens she was already spinning on her body I was laughing so hard that I actually had blurry vision.  (Does this happen to anyone else?)

So – without a doubt – I’m a new devoted follower.  I’m just suggesting that from a pacing standpoint, getting a taste a little earlier in the game would have engaged me sooner.  (Though Saturn coming out into the audience and personally introducing herself to everyone before climbing right between me and my husband and becoming part of our “sandwich” did go a long way in getting us all pretty familiar!)

Miss Saturn herself is enticing, magnetic, attractive and alluring – a field of gravity unto herself.  So it’s no wonder hoops run rings around her almost of their own accord.  Similarly, her gravitational pull draws in the audience – though she works her considerable charms to make sure everyone gets a bit of a shout out.  I left Hula Hell Is Miss Saturn not only entertained, but feeling as if I’d made a friend.

This show did, perhaps, exactly what it was intended to do – it put Miss Saturn on my radar, got me excited about hula hoops again, and made me want to find out where I can see her perform again.  So while this show itself may come off a little less polished and a little more folksy than others, it sure does answer the question it poses.  I left knowing EXACLY Hula Hell Miss Saturn is – she’s a Freakin Force of Nature.  And having seen her on a day that a tornado touched down in Brooklyn – that’s saying a lot.


Hula Hell Is Miss Saturn
Starring Miss Saturn (Jennifer McGowan)
Playing at
The Brick Theater
575 Metropolitan Ave
(between Union Ave & Lorimer St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
For information about this show, consult the festival calendar
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