Grab your lipliner and hoop earrings. The Chonga Girls are back and they’re coming to a city near you. After going viral 15 years ago, best friends and collaborators Mimi Davila and Laura Di Lorenzo are reuniting to bring their 305 swagger on the road with “2nite with The Chonga Girls,” their new late-night talk show. Remezcla caught up with the Latine comedians to talk about the journey leading up to the show, what it means to be a chonga today, and more.
You might remember The Chonga Girls from their infamous “Chongalicious” video, a parody of Fergie’s hit, “Fergalicious.” The clip became one of YouTube’s first viral videos in 2007 and turned the then teenagers from Miami into overnight sensations. Davila and Di Lorenzo both recognize how much the world has changed since they first achieved internet fame, particularly how social attitudes towards chongas have evolved. “There was a negative stigma attached to [the word ‘chonga’],” laments Davila, who now compares the term to an emblem of pride. “It was associated with being chusma. For us, those girls were the popular girls in school. We were more on the nerdy side.”
“It’s also a way for us to embrace our Latina culture living in the United States of America,” says Di Lorenzo. “Sometimes I never felt like I was Latina enough, or I was never American enough. But this Chonga culture? I could be both, and I love that.”
Di Lorenzo confesses The Chonga Girls never set out to become influencers themselves, and that has informed the direction of the work that they’ve created since. The duo went to theater schools and set their sights on becoming actresses. They eventually moved to Los Angeles from Miami in pursuit of those dreams. “The auditions were very few, so we were like, ‘We have to create our own content,’” says Di Lorenzo, citing the influx of videos by other Latine creators and Issa Rae’s successful “Awkward Black Girl” web series.
After one season of their “Chonga Diaries” series, the duo switched gears to write pilots and other creative projects. Suddenly, they had a lightbulb realization: they excel with live performances and there’s not a single Latina on a late-night show. “What if we made the most American, white, cis male thing and make it ours?” recalls Di Lorenzo with a laugh. “It’s like a mix of Sabado Gigante with Jimmy Fallon and a shit ton of pettiness and attitude!” The result is “2nite with The Chonga Girls,” which made its debut in New York City on Oct. 12.
Their alt-comedy show is described as a sassy and fun culmination of their beautiful but flawed friendship. It also represents much more than a viral moment from their teenage years. “You can see the evolution of our writing and how grounded it is,” says Davila. “We’ve been on this journey to infiltrate our culture into mainstream comedy.” “This is a thing that could be on TV [and] in the movies. That’s what we want to do with it,” says Di Lorenzo as she admits that a TV show is their end goal. “It’s for people to see they need us, they need to watch us in their homes,” says Di Lorenzo.
Despite the chonga culture’s deep ties to Miami and Latinidad, Davila wants audiences to know that “2nite” is for everyone and their mission is to transcend identities. “How do we take our story and make it universal?” she muses. “We happen to be Latina, but it doesn’t mean that it’s just for [us].” “To be honest, I think everyone should be a chonga girl. That means white girls, Asians, Russians,” says Di Lorenzo as she shares that many non-Latinas at her middle school also emulated the style back then. “So for me, I’m like, ‘Sure, the more the merrier.’” However, both women agree that this is only permissible if respect is paid and acknowledgements are made.
The second New York City show, which is scheduled for Nov. 10, is part of the New York Comedy Festival and will feature special guests La Goony Chonga (who brought out The Chonga Girls as a surprise guest during her III Points Festival set) and drag duo The Dragon Sisters.
The “2nite” tour will continue with a string of shows in Los Angeles through the end of the year. As for next year and beyond, Di Lorenzo laughs and simply says she hopes they’re successful. “We’re gonna do a show in Miami [next year], potentially more than one,” she continues. “We love our Miami audience. We’re practically Miami’s mascots at this point.”