The World Champ of Loose Hips, Mat Plendl Is Putting the Hula-Hoop Back in Circulation

UPDATED 04/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

At least Mat Plendl, 25, knows his limitations. When he first picked up a Hula-Hoop at age 10, he says, "I knew was never going to be good at any other sport, so I decided to become the best at this." His mother, Peggy, remembers that apotheosis: "I thought he was kidding." He wasn't. Three years later the Redondo Beach, Calif., native won the World Hula-Hooping Championship, and he's since become one of the world's top professional Hula-Hoopers. Now, 30 years after the toy was introduced, Plendl is about to become the spinhead of the great Hula-Hoop revival of 1988. Cashing in on what Wham-O spokesman Dan Roddick calls "a biological backlash"—the original hoopsters buying them for their kids—the manufacturer is kicking off an ad campaign this month. The 30-second spots, featuring Plendl gyrating to a rock beat, will air on MTV and Nickelodeon—the perfect markets, says Roddick, since "the average Hula-Hoop consumer is a 10-year-old girl." Plendl is inclined to agree. "I just performed for 2,000 Girl Scouts, and they screamed like I was a rock star. I thought I'd forgotten my pants."

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