Chongas!

Maybe 2007 will be their year

One of the clients is Genesis Arana, a seventeen-year-old of Puerto Rican descent from Fort Lauderdale. She rolls her eyes when asked about "Chongalicious." "I don't like it," she says. "I just think it's a stereotype of Latinas. The word chonga in Spanish is not a good thing. A chonga woman is stupid."

The woman doing her nails -- a gorgeous eighteen-year-old named Denia Ramirez, who's wearing big hoop earrings and has long, straight hair -- arrived in Miami from Cuba just a year ago. She had never heard the word chonga on the island, but she guesses it's something like a chusma, or "person of low class."

Both Genesis and the young Cuban woman are dressed exactly like prototypical chongas -- tight jeans, tiny tops, big earrings, lots and lots of makeup -- yet they refuse to call themselves by that name. "I know a few girls that remind me of the song," Genesis says. "But I don't know anyone who thinks it's cool." The day before this past Mother's Day -- a sunny Saturday in May -- Power 96 hosted its first MILF Olympics at Tu Can Tango, a nearly empty bar on the ocean in Hollywood. The contest -- with games such as throwing wet diapers into a garbage can and washing a floor while holding a baby doll -- would determine who was the hottest and most domestically capable mother. Prizes ranged from tickets to Universal Studios to day spa gift certificates to $500 cash. A dozen contestants began streaming into the bar shortly before noon, and within seconds, were knocking back pints of Bud Light, ice-cold bloody marys, and, in some cases, Jack-and-Cokes. The women, all over eighteen years old, were accompanied by toddlers, babies, or boyfriends, sometimes all three. As they set down diaper bags on barstools, the women shimmied to the deep bass of the Daddy Yankee song "Gasolina." One even showed her five-year-old how to dance by thrusting her chest in a pumping motion in time with the music.

Laura Di Lorenzo (left) and Mimi Davila have taken Miami by storm with their song "Chongalicious"
Ivylise Simones
Laura Di Lorenzo (left) and Mimi Davila have taken Miami by storm with their song "Chongalicious"
Yunaisy Gonzalez and Yeney Yero at the Mall of the Americas (top); chonga nameplate earrings at the Opa-locka/Hialeah Flea Market (bottom left); Yasmine, a chongalike Bratz doll
Yunaisy Gonzalez and Yeney Yero at the Mall of the Americas (top); chonga nameplate earrings at the Opa-locka/Hialeah Flea Market (bottom left); Yasmine, a chongalike Bratz doll

The women wore tiny shorts, half-shirts, and, in most cases, four-inch heels. The boldest among them had donned T-shirts with provocative sayings. Among them: "Who needs tits when I've got an ass like this?" One, who appeared to be about 35 years old, was decked out in a black "Hustler" tank top, a rhinestone belt that also said "Hustler," and a pair of jean shorts. Nothing says Mother's Day quite like a gal in "Hustler" apparel.

The competition began with the women dunking their heads in tin buckets filled with water. They tried to grab floating pickles with their teeth. The D4 song "Shake That Laffy Taffy" played in the background.

During all of this chaos -- it was about 2:00 in the afternoon -- Laura, Mimi, and their entourage walked into the bar. The girls had been invited by Power 96 to perform their song; their entourage consisted of their moms, Laura's little brother Adrian, Mimi's grandma, and a half-dozen friends from school.

The girls' moms -- beautiful, dignified middle-age women with short hair and sensible shoes -- seemed a little stunned by the scene. The moms had previously, and privately, expressed concern about their daughters dressing too sexy in their chonga roles. Today they seemed overwhelmed at how everyone fawned over their children.

"It's really hard to believe how all this happened," said Judith Quintero, Laura's mother. She shook her head as she watched her daughter pose with a young man and his baby boy.

The "Chongalicious" girls flitted about the room, signing autographs, apparently oblivious to the madness around them. Mimi wore a sleeveless denim jumpsuit, and Laura had on low-rise jeans and a tight black T-shirt with a motorcyle and the words "Baby Rider." Laura also sported the biggest gold earrings I'd ever seen; if they were real solid gold, they would surely be too heavy to wear. Every ten minutes, the girls whipped out lip liner pencils and enlisted each other to reapply the color. The moms repeated that they didn't want their daughters to look provocative, which prompted Mimi, who was walking by, to whisper, "Our parents, they don't really get it."

DJ Laz, the one who first started playing "Chongalicious," introduced the girls to the crowd during a break in the MILF action. "These two have basically created chaos all over the damn city," he said. "These girls are probably the most creative young girls I've ever seen." The proud moms looked like they were going to cry.

Everyone crowded around the girls and cheered. That's when I realized Mimi and Laura's brilliance: They were acting like chongas in a room filled with the real thing. The song began, and the pair shook their butts, just like they did in the video. One of Laura's big earrings flew off, and Mimi's fake nails came unglued while the girls wriggled around the dance floor, but they kept on going without missing a beat. Back on Main Street in Miami Lakes, Mimi and Laura were cornered everywhere they went -- in Johnny Rockets, at the movie theater, walking to Mimi's mom's sedan. They posed for photos with babies, dogs, older men, and, of course, teenage girls. Being around Mimi and Laura is kind of like tagging along with actor Sacha Baron Cohen on a Borat film shoot. It's difficult to know what will happen next, or how other kids will perceive them. When the girls go out in their chonga clothes, they might as well be from Hialeah, not drama students living in the tony suburb of Aventura. In character, they are brash, sexy, bold creatures. They seem self-assured rather than the moody, curious girls they really are. They flirt and squeal and act dumb. It is perhaps better in person than in the video.

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