Juleisy and Karla: Hialeah's Finest Drag Chonga Chefs on Home Cooking and the Hialeah Lifestyle
Juleisy y Karla.
Courtesy of William Gonzalez
The first dose of cultural reflection Miamians enjoyed en masse was the video Shit Miami Girls Say. It was one of the best imitations of the stereotypical Miami we know and love. Deep down inside, we could all relate to it in some way. But last week, Hialeah's Finest Kitchen With Juleisy y Karla debuted on YouTube. This video is not one of the best imitations we've seen. No, no.
It's the best.
What's more, anyone who grew up in Miami-Dade has known a Juleisy or Karla of their own -- and that's what makes the film's references spot on, all without fail.
Before you view this shit show of hilarity, read what the boys have to say about it.
Cooking in Hialeah's finest kitchen.
"I grew up really poor in Hialeah," says Josue Garcia, who plays the role of Karla. "My mother always had a way of reinventing a dish so that we didn't have to eat the same thing over and over again. It gets so boring!"
Garcia recently earned a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales (not "Le Con Con Bleu en Miramar," mami). He then teamed up with his longtime friend Gio Profera (who's not new to our sister blog, Cultist, by the way).
Profera is a stylist and often performs in shows at clubs from South Beach to West Palm Beach. "Being a chonga is a lifestyle," he says about playing the role of Juleisy. "We're hood but classy." That explains why their makeup is on point, chicas.
"These are the people we grew up with," he says. "The people we see on the bus, in the grocery store, at school."
And then came videographer William Gonzalez, who tied it all together in a 12-minute cooking demonstration for Garcia's pulled-pork wonton recipe.
"Are you Hispanic?" Profera asks during our interview.
Yes, we reply.
"So how many times have you left a birthday or a quince or a baby shower with the family's abuelita telling you to take a plate home?"
He makes a great point. If you grew up in the Hispanic community, the answer would be, "Every time." Pero, like, claro que si.
"We were in the stages of figuring out what the public was going to like," Gonzalez says. "Another Shit [insert stereotype here] Say would've been boring. So we figured something like a work-out video or some kind of tutorial would work well."
A cooking show seemed befitting to them. But why was Juleisy naked?
"I always go commando," Profera says.
"I don't like to wear socks or underwear -- it's too much laundry." Sin pena, mi gente.
The trio of hilarity set the stage at Profera's grandmother's house, whose kitchen has not been renovated since 1960.
Clearly, authenticity and the Hialeah vibe were crucial.
Speaking of authenticity, Garcia mentions the connections between growing up in a poor Hialeah kitchen to working in the professional food industry today. "People don't realize how ghetto these things can be," he says.
"We really do scrape the bottom of the tub and add water to make the sauces yield more. Because at the end of the day, it's all about food costs. Best of all, the things I did in the video were actual things I grew up doing.
"I mean, what else are you gonna do with leftover lechón?" (Say it with us now: leh-sh-own.)
You'll have to watch the video before understanding our next point:
We had to ask, what exactly is "Wasasa?"
"Wasasa is a gnat in Cuban Spanish. Hay una wasasa en la casa," Profera says. Ah, bueno.
One last, important thing: Is Garcia's undeniable body hair ever a problem in the kitchen?
"I sprayed nonflammable spray on my back before we started filming [Laughs]. Just kidding."
Follow Alex on Twitter @ARodWrites.
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