Since springing up in the Mexican-American communities of East L.A., cholo subculture has continued on an eastward trajectory no one could have anticipated. As in, all the way to the Far East. (Assuming we’re operating on that whole Asia is in the east because Europe is at the center of the whole world premise… which we probably shouldn’t be).
I wrote about this phenomenon a couple of years ago, when I learned there was a bourgeoning scene in Japan that, for reasons that are unclear, began emulating the signifiers of cholo culture in the early aughts. We’re talking the lowriders, the Chicano rap, the pencilled in eyebrows and baggy pants, etc.
Japanese cholos. Or as I like to call them, Jolos.
Apparently, the Japanese aren’t the only ones who feel an affinity toward this Mexican-American cultural expression. In Bangkok, young Thai men have also taken to dressing up like “Mexican Gangsters,” a style most of them became acquainted with through watching YouTube videos. Coconuts TV has made a short documentary on the subject, following three “gangs” who associate themselves with this lifestyle. It’s filled with amazing quotes about why the cholo aesthetic/lifestyle speaks to them (some reasons given include: “I thought it was simple and fits the weather here”); their interpretation of the terms “gang” and “gangster” (for them gangs are peaceful social clubs rather than organized groups of criminals); and their day jobs (“By day I’m a government bureaucrat. By night, I’m a tattoo artist and gangster”).
Check out the video below: