Goin' 'round and 'round
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Open a closet at the Trout residence, and a pile of brightly colored hula hoops probably will spill out.
The rattling plastic rings - almost 200 of them - are crammed into every corner of the Billings family's home.
That's because Camille Trout buys them in bulk. The former circus player travels the country with a gravity-defying hula hoop act.
Her life revolves around hula hoops.
"I had to buy a car around whether my hoops could fit in it," Camille said.
Surprisingly, hula hoops cannot be squeezed into the trunk. She opted for a Mitsubishi Eclipse because the back seat folds down, making room for a stack of hoops.
"As soon as I got it home, I brought a hoop out and tried it," she said.
Camille, 18, hopes to use her hula hoops to break into a career in acting or modeling.
She recently took first place in a dance category at the Millie Lewis Actors, Models and Talent Competition in Charleston, S.C.; has jetted to Manhattan twice to audition for national television commercials; and was featured in a local TV ad for Western Security Bank.
She also hulas for dozens of local events, including at MontanaFair and in an upcoming Venture Theater production of "Seussical."
"She is a born performer," said Ed Trout, Camille's father. "She wants to be in front of a crowd."
Camille performs her regular 7-1/2-minute hula hoop act with hoops wrapped in black hockey tape and silver ribbon. She also sews her own costumes.
Her favorite trick is to spin 20 hula hoops around her neck, which can lead to a swollen throat and bloody lips. Camille said 20 hoops around the neck is a world record, and she hopes to be certified as the record-holder.
"I think I've stretched my neck out because it's longer than most people's," she said.
In another popular trick, Camille starts with four or six hoops spinning around her waist and uses her muscles to separate them. One ends up on a wrist held above her head, another at her neck and another around her knees.
"It is a workout," she said. "It has given me lots of muscles. On my stomach, I have a lot of muscles."
The most hoops Camille has spun at once was 60 around her waist, but that was at home with no official witnesses, she said. In a show, 25 around the waist is her record. An assistant - usually a family member - throws the hoops to her one by one.
hoops2.jpg (11789 bytes) Their centrifugal force can be dangerous.
"My hula hoops have almost run away with me a couple of times," she said.
Most tricks she makes up herself, but some she has learned from television and other performers. She cleared out her bedroom and put up giant mirrors for practice space.
"I have broken so many things in my room from hula hoops," she said. "I have hardly any breakables in my room anymore."
Camille began working with hula hoops at age 8, when her family - including mom, Lisa, and brother, Adam - traveled with a circus. Ed worked as a leather crafter repairing circus tents and fashioning harnesses for animals.
"I didn't want her to have anything to do with the circus," he said.
He worried about its sometimes-bawdy side affecting Camille. But Camille became friends with the circus' hula hoop performer, Sophia Davenport.
"She got me a hula hoop for my birthday," Camille said. "She started to teach me hula hoop behind my dad's back."
When the duo had mastered a 3-1/2-minute act, they convinced other circus employees to help them stage a special ringside performance for Camille's father.
"I cried," he said. "She was so good. I had to admit this was a talent God has given her."
Ed allowed Camille to pursue the hoops as long as she maintained a modest act.
"There is a place for people to be in the entertainment industry and be modest," he said. "There are certain things she's not able to do because of her beliefs and standards."
"I've already had to say, 'No, I won't do that,' " Camille added. "I'm not trying to sell my body. I'm trying to sell my act."
Camille traveled with circuses for several years before her family settled in Billings. She performed an acrobatic routine from a ladder hung high in the big top in addition to her hula hoop act.
"I was just having fun. I love to do it," she said. "Of course, I was getting paid. But I didn't even care about the pay."
At the time, there were few hula hoop acts around, and Camille remains rare in the entertainment world. In her travels to shows and auditions, she has come across only one other hula hoop performer.
While she waits for her agent to call with news of a big break, Camille works refinishing houses for her father's business, Montana Builders.
"You've got to just keep working at it," she said. "Something will come up."
Diane Cochran may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Camille Trout of Billings a former circus performer waits to perform during the opening ceremonies of the Big Sky State Games Friday July 15, 2005.
[quote name='http://www.kulr8.com/index.php?StoryID=9980']Going for it
By Jodi Hathaway
AUGUST 10, BILLINGS - Remember hula hoops from your childhood? Well, a Billings woman is trying to set a new world record. 19 year-old Camille Trout has been hula-hooping for 11 years. She says she just loves to hula hoop. Her quest? To set the record for most hula hoops around the neck. She's aiming for 20.
"I was actually performing in the circus about six years ago, and I was the only person he was doing hula hoops on her neck. And I just kept doing more and more and more because nobody else did it, so it was a natural thing for me to do," Trout said. "I wanted to break the world record on my waist, but there's no way that I can fit 100 hula hoops around my waist. I can do 60 on my waist, that's the most I can do." Trout plans to submit this record to the Guiness Book of World Records in about a month. But first, she wants WHAM-O, the company that created the toy, to customize special hoops for her to make the attempt.[/quote]
Act #3 is Camille Trout, the "daughter of Hoopalicious" as Regis puts it. She performs with her hoops, of course. She's pretty good, but gives none of the sexuality Hoopalicious did. Probably a good thing, as I don't want to go to jail. She attempts a world record of twenty hoops around her neck for three revs. She loses one right away, so no record.
...[/quote]If only he knew, she's like at least 20 now.