Since they became famous ten years ago, Mimi and Laura have gotten nonstop questions about where they went. After Laura got caught up in a Midwestern cult with her ex John Marco, the two girls moved to L.A. to follow their dreams. They're dropping a mixtape and filming the making of it for their reality show, which is lovingly watched by devoted fans on YouTube.
"The Chonga Girls live in an alternate reality where they're still famous," Mimi Davila explains. She is, in fact, in L.A., where she lives with Laura Di Lorenzo. But Laura was not in a cave cult.
"I went to New World [School of Arts] and graduated with a BFA in theater performance," Di Lorenzo clarifies. She was the second of the pair to move to L.A. after Davila relocated there from Texas, where she attended Southern Methodist University.
"We remained friends, and we always kind of wanted to work together," Di Lorenzo explains. "My mom was like, 'Why don't you bring the Chonga Girls back?' We started feeling angsty because we thought it was over and no one cared about it anymore."
But someone did. The video made a resurgence on Facebook and went viral — again. Jenny Lorenzo, AKA Abuela on the media site Mitú, saw the video and heard the pair was in L.A.
"We actually saw Abuela posting videos," Di Lorenzo says excitedly, "and we were like, 'Oh my God, what are we doing? Why are we not doing our Chonga Girls?'"
Between the comeback on social media and the contact from Lorenzo, the two felt pumped about returning to their high-school project with new energy and ideas. Their YouTube series follows Laura and Mimi as they try — and repeatedly fail — to get into the studio to record a mixtape. Ultimately, they will capitalize on their three hits; they just need time, and to find their manager, and to deal with a jealous roommate, and to get jobs.
"We do everything to not do the mixtape because we're scared," Davila says of the Chongas. "We get very easily distracted in the process."
In real life, Davila and Di Lorenzo are far from unfocused. Di Lorenzo writes, produces, acts, directs, and edits videos for Mitú, where she arguably makes a better Abuela than Jenny Lorenzo. Davila freelances on Mitú and other shows outside of managing the Chonga Girls' YouTube channel.
"I put a lot of my energy into the Chonga Girls," she adds. "It's like a little mini-empire."
Both women are dedicated to the project not only for the nostalgia of the characters but also to bring more Latina comedy into the mainstream. They look up to Insecure's Issa Rae and Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer for creating web platforms that launched their careers. The goal is to get their own network TV show. In the meantime, they regularly update their YouTube channel with gems such as "ASMR Tarot Reading" ("que sooting-ca," they whisper into their Slurpee microphones) and "Chonga Makeup Tutorial."
"One of the biggest things about chonga culture is the bravado," Davila says. "In a social media time, everything is doing that. So we take that aspect and amplify it to make a statement about the internet in general." Hence the Chonga Mannequin Challenge, tutorials, and movie reviews. "Everyone is lying about themselves; that's not just a chonga thing. Chongas just do it really well."
After bringing the Chonga Girls into the modern age, Davila and Di Lorenzo's show is gaining popularity, and largely among viewers outside Miami. What began as a caricature of a highly specific subculture has become something almost universal. Di Lorenzo and Davila have a few theories about that fact, from the Chonga Girls' unwavering confidence to the comediennes' dynamic. But to be honest, the reason is probably love.
"We realized, both us us, that [the Chonga Girls] are us," Di Lorenzo says. "They become more complex and layered as we bring more of ourselves into them."
"I think great comedy comes from a place of love," Davila says. "Yeah, we're cheesing, but these characters are our alter-egos. It's me and Laura making fun of ourselves. We both love the fact that we're from Miami."
Adds Laura: "There's a lot of pride."
Recently signed to 3 Arts Entertainment — the group that produces Broad City and Insecure — the Chonga Girls are gearing up for the future. But before they fulfill their real-life dreams, they want to bring it full circle. They'll perform a show with Abuela at Magic City Casino this Friday.
Davila's voice gets almost dreamy. "We want it to be a magical party," she says. "It's a big homecoming, a big celebration of 305."
Chonga Girls World Tour Featuring Abuela. Presented by Have-Nots Comedy. 9 p.m. Friday, October 6, at Stage 305, Magic City Casino, 450 NW 37th Ave., Miami; 305-649-3000; magiccitycasino.com. Tickets cost $20 to $40 via eventbrite.com.