Our Lady of Japanese Fashion

I’ve made no secret of my love and fascination with Chicano culture in Japan. I am obsessed with how urban Chicano visual aesthetics and slang have been interpreted through a uniquely Japanese lens. I’ve written before about Japanese takes on Cholo fashion and I’m back with a themed look at how the Virgin of Guadalupe has been used in said fashion.

EYEDY(アイディー)ZIPフーディジャケット/民族柄調

Finding these clothes took no special Japanese language skills or inside cultural information, I simply looked up Japanese online stores (primarily Rakuten) and performed searches on them for the word Guadalupe. Below are some of my favorite findings. Clicking on the images will take you to their sale listing if you actually want to purchase what you see. Happy shopping!

SUBCIETY/ サブサエティ / assistant Sae tea /Guadalupe ZIP PARKA/ parka /SBP6111

Strike rollers [What’s New] [STROLLERZ] T-shirt 23#GUADALUPE/BLACK, WHITE [ST-086-BLACK]

【2012A/Wコレクション】GUADALUPE  Tシャツ 長袖(B42024)【BLACKFLAME(ブラックフレイム)】

【楽天ランキング入賞】【2012A/Wコレクション】BF GUADALUPE スタジャン(B49015)【BLACKFLAME(ブラックフレイム)】【送料無料】【代引き手数料無料】

PHYNAM(ファイナム) S/S POLO SHIRTS -GUADALUPE- (ブラック)

CRIMIE(クライミー)GUADALUPECRIMIE(クライミー)GUADALUPE(2カラー)【メンズ 半袖 TEE Tシャツ 復刻 グアダルーペ 】【送料無料】【メンズカジュアル 男性 ストリート 着こなし 】【あす楽_土曜営業】【あす楽_日曜営業】

eyedy(アイディ)SERAPE GUADALUPE VEST

【2012A/Wコレクション】FAITH GUADALUPE パーカー 長袖(B42008)【BLACKFLAME(ブラックフレイム)】

Subciety Guadalupe.A R-7/S BKWH

【BLACK FLAME】BF GUADALUPE 刺繍&プリント入りワークシャツ (B31034)

Finally, in the Chicano spirit, I’ll leave you with this bonus: A Chicano Spirits shirt. Enjoy!

PRO CLUB ヘビーウェイト プリントロンT -Chicano Spirits- 【全2色】

Peace,

Rio

Concept Art and the Adventures of Chicana Amy Pond

Good news! I’ll be hosting and DJing another 2 hour block this Friday on Radio Valencia (radiovalencia.fm). I’ll be joined by a co-host Katynka Martinez as we banter and kick out the jams across the airwaves and internet streams.

I’m in the process of designing a promotional artwork for the show that is based on the current image used to promote Doctor Who Season 5. Instead of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as The Doctor and Amy Pond, it’s me and Katynka flying through the space time continuum. Yeah I know, it’s hella nerdy. What can I say? I’m totally on that Doctor Who tip these days. Above is my “in progress” of Katynka as the Chicana Amy Pond. I hope you can dig it. Stay tuned for the final piece!

Above are two portraits of my creative collaborator Mayra Ramirez. They’re concept art that helped me to work out some ideas and aesthetic curiosities for our 3D comic art project.  Ultimately we decided to go with different looks that I’m really excited to work with but I though I’d share these two sketches.

We had a great meeting today planning out the last details of our collaboration. We go full on into production next week and I can’t wait to see what develops. The deadline for MACLA’s Latino comic art show is soon approaching so this will be my primary creative project for December and early January.

Speaking of meeting up with homies, I want to tip my hat to my good friend Stan Heller. We spent Sunday afternoon exploring the many recent murals up along Lilac alley in the Mission. I’ll leave you with this animated gif that I shot during our adventure.

Peace,

Rio

Behind the Scenes and Mischief in the Mission

This past Sunday I got together with the infamous Mayra Ramirez for another session of Homegirl Purikura. For this special session we were joined by guest artist and chola Evil Rose. Mayra and I met Evil Rose in Japantown and together we ventured into Pikapika to take some photos.

During our first session of Homegirl Purikura Mayra turned all sorts of heads in Japantown while she was decked out in her chola gear and persona. With Evil Rose in the mix we were a walking spectacle. Tourists who were in the area for the Nihonmachi Street Fair didn’t know what to make of us. Our presence was unavoidable.

Evil Rose was a natural Purikura artist, Mayra and I showed her the basics and she just took off with it.  Mayra also continued her unique and intense approach to her Purikura practice. I decorated a couple of images but for the most part I stood back as a facilitator for this session. It was a thrill to see this powerful pair of cholas team up and work as artists together.

Lastly, I finally got to try out The Cube, the newest Purikura booth at Pikapika. I can’t wait to share the images that came from it. It was definitely the most sophisticated and technically advanced Purikura booth I’ve ever been in.

Following our Purikura adventure we all decided to head to the Mission District for a shoot in Balmy Alley. Evil Rose is not only a model/performer but a professional photographer herself. We turned our cameras on Mayra who lived up to her reputation as the ultimate Chola muse. Below are some photos, to see the full gallery of images check out my flickr page.

I also managed to record a little behind the scenes video while we were shooting. Here’s two videos of Mayra playing around. When she focuses on her chola persona she disappears into it but when she breaks character she’s equally charismatic. Check it out!

Peace,

Rio

Slangy: Japanese Cholo Fashion

I think my mind has been officially blown. It all started when I read THIS POST by Patrick Macias about Japanese fashion line Slangy. In his post he shows images from the line (taken from the website of Shibuya-based shop Accel Spunky) that use the word Fuck in funny and nonsensical ways. I followed the links in his post and discovered not one but many clothing lines by Slangy that emulate Cholo style and fashion. Below are some highlights taken from THIS PAGE.

SLANGY MEXICAN SUMMER(ブラック)

SLANGY MEXICAN SUMMER(ブラック)

SLANGY MEXICAN SUMMER(ブラック)

SLANGY Pistol cracker(グレー)

SLANGY GANG OF COLOERS(レッド)

SLANGY GANG OF COLOERS(レッド)

SLANGY GANG OF COLOERS(レッド)

SLANGY Backdoor Dealings(グレー)

SLANGY Backdoor Dealings(グレー)

SLANGY Gang scouts(ブラック(ホワイト))

SLANGY Gang scouts(ブラック(ホワイト))

SLANGY Gang scouts(ブラック(ホワイト))

SLANGY Van Dammeタンクトップ(ホワイト)

SLANGY BACK SIDE FLIP(ネイビー)

DEADLY JESTER シャーリングエルボーチェックシャツ(レッド)

SLANGY FRONT SIDE FLIP(ブラック)

SLANGY Slush fund(グリーン)

More to come as it is discovered. What does everyone think?

Peace,

Rio

State of Affairs

MOVIES

It’s a sad state of affairs for Raza in film these days. Shit is bleak y’all. I went to the Blockbuster on 16th street after work to rent some Blu-Rays but instead was tempted by two movies on DVD starring my people. I’ve got a soft spot for films in the probably fucked up direct to DVD movies starring Latinos genre. It took all the willpower I had not to rent the copy of Hoodrats 2 staring at me.

Hoochie Mamma Drama
The first movie up is Hoochie Mamma Drama. The story centers around Guera, a sharpied chola who tries to maintain her relationship with two-timin’ Lazy, the local cholo drug dealer. Of all the things done wrong in the movie the scenario is pretty realistic: two homegirls battling it out with each other for the same man without even questioning his responsibility in sleeping with both of them. If there’s anything to really be offended about  it’s that it actually reinforces this logic instead of subverting it.  One of the last lines of dialogue spoken by one of the cholas is “This is stupid, we’re not getting anywhere” and that sums Hoochie Mamma Drama up perfectly.

The most ridiculous part of Hoochie Mamma Drama is gay rapper turned actor Deadlee. I know it’s hard out there for LGBT performers but this is the worst straight-for-pay acting job I’ve ever seen. The only time I actually laughed during Hoochie Mamma Drama was when he busted out with gay porno moves during the first sex scene. Even worse, despite the fact that one of the lead actors is gay the film is stacked with homophobic caricatures and language.

There’s no doubt that Hoochie Mamma Drama is a chola coon show but there’s something almost endearing about its reckless hyperbole. My hat goes off to actress Monique La Barr who stars as Guera. Her performance is so over the top and energetic she’s like a Latina Bruce Campbell (circa the Evil Dead films).

The Cell 2

Next up is The Cell 2. The sequel to the Jennifer Lopez film, The Cell 2 follows psychic investigator Maya Casteneda (Tessie Santiago) as she tracks a serial killer named the Cusp. The killer is infamous for killing his victims and resurrecting them until they can’t stand it any more and beg for a final death. There’s nothing scary or suspenseful about The Cell 2, just the horror of the Cusp’s victims being tortured with misogynistic glee. Watching The Cell 2 is torture in and of itself, you’ll be asking for a mercy killing after a few minutes it. As  Bruce Campbell once said, “You didn’t just commit a crime against me, which was pretty frickin’ huge, you committed a crime against art itself.”

The only real connection this bullshit flick has to the original Cell is that they star Latinas who are tracking down serial killers. The film tries to establish continuity with the first film by starting out with footage from it. This is the biggest mistake The Cell 2 makes, the contrast between the movies is so huge that it sticks with you the whole time you watch it. Being reminded of how slick the first one looks while watching the broke-ass second just makes you want to see Jennifer Lopez do her thing.

There’s just no imagination in the design of The Cell 2. Even on a small budget the visuals are just terrible. Check out this comparison of what it looks like inside the mind of the killer in the first and second films. The backgrounds used in The Cell 2 look like they’re almost all static Photoshop compositions so there’s no excuse for not making it more engaging.

The saddest part of The Cell 2 is that it’s a star vehicle for Tessie Santiago. During the turn of the century Santiago was one of my favorite actresses. She was the star of Queen of Swords, a syndicated television show that was in the spirit of Xena: Warrior Princess. She played, essentially, a female version of Zorro. I always thought it was subversive that a Latina was playing a Spaniard and not the other way around. Alas when the show was canceled her career stalled, The Cell 2 is her first starring roll since Queen of Swords. Sadly she’s not even imitating J-Lo here, Santiago acts and is made to look  like a bootleg Eva Longoria. I just felt sorry for her, she goes through the whole film looking tired and bored. Heartbreaking.

MUSIC

On her twitter feed Julieta Venegas posted a photo of herself with Mala Rodriguez and Nelly Furtado in a studio. According to her tweets, this holy trifecta is making a song for Furtado’s forthcoming Spanish language album.

14156008

This better be one of the best songs of all time or I’m going to be hella disappointed.

On the free download tip is the latest and greatest mixtape from electro hip-hop band Hyper Crush. I’ve written about Hyper Crush and their Latin American singer Holly Valentine before . This new mixtape is a free download so check it out! Click on the image below and “save link as”.

TOYS

Culture Clash’s Herbert Siguenza recently sent me an image of a toy with his likeness that will be coming out to coincide with the movie Ben 10: Alien Swarm. I can’t think of another Latino who’s had an action figure created in their likeness and even though he’s a sneering villain I think it’s a huge step forward. Orale Herbert!

herbert

You can see Herbert in Ben 10: Alien Swarm airing on the Cartoon Network in November of 2009.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My favorite performance artist Ask a Chola has posted a series of photographs from a recent trip to Disneyland. Check out her subversive shenanigans here.

Peace,

Rio

The Unbearable Silence of Sabrina Perez

sccchola01

My most recent Blu-Ray purchase has been the first season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I’ve been really digging the series and I think Summer Glau is a brilliant actress in it. As much as I like the series it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the monolithic portrayal of Latinos throughout the first season. Every single Latino male has been shown to be a lying, backstabbing cholo. I mean that literally, our ONLY onscreen depictions are as ruthless cholos in the show. The message of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is clear: Latino men are good resources for illicit goods and contraband but can’t be trusted. Even worse, all but one of them ends up killed by the end of the season. There’s only one Latina in the first season and her role in the show is just as simple but her context is a lot more complex.

The most fascinating aspect of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the presence of Chola; a (what else) chola who comes to the aid of Sarah Connor on multiple occasions throughout the first season. Chola is no ordinary chola though, in the first season she is totally silent and easily the most mysterious figure in the first season. There have been a lot of discussions online speculating that Chola’s stoic silence means she’s a terminator. In the commentary track of the season finale the episode’s Director implies that Chola is not a terminator by stating her motivation is simply to “avenge her homies.” Ultimately her silence serves to exoticize her. A silent, nameless Chola is more mysterious than Sad Girl talking about what nail salon she got her ghetto claws done at. Chola is the twisted, idealized antithesis to the portyals of Latinas and Black Women on reality television shows: silent, friendly, and doesn’t react to or question the violence around her. It’s different, I’ll give the series that much, but just as harmful and stigmatizing.

Chola is played by actress Sabrina Perez. Looking at Sabrina Perez’ IMDB page reveals that she’s been cast in five roles thus far in her career. Three of those five roles don’t even give her a name and simply refer to her as the archetype she portrays; they speak for themselves: Chola, Gang Girl, and Assassin.

sccchola02

The question is: Are Latino and Latina performers who continually play these roles victims or villains? Is Sabrina Perez simply paying her dues while following her dreams to be a successful actress or is she a “Good German” not willing to question the implications of the roles she takes? At what point do we hold performers accountable for taking the meager roles that are offered to them by the mainstream entertainment industry?

The only other critical writing I’ve been able to find on Chola is this insightful post by a writer that goes by FengLiAn. I really am enjoying Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and I do hope Sabrina Perez can break through the glass ceiling she is being crushed against, for the sake of everyone stigmatized by her roles if not her. Keep ya head up Ms. Perez.

sccchola03

Peace,

Rio

Radio Chola

I spent the other night listening to my favorite performance artist Ask a Chola on her brand new radio show. Between the gully banter and crazy music I loved every second of it. I wanted to do what I could to support Chola’s new endeavor so I thought I’d create a new portrait to help get the word out.

My first portrait of Ask a Chola, circa March 2007, is a good marker for how far my technical skills in illustration have evolved. I wonder sometimes if I’ve gotten too far away from my original style but I’m really happy with the direction the tablet has taken me in. There’s even a noticeable difference from my first couple of piece with it. Things are looking up!

Alas, I’m triste because I’ll be in LA next Wednesday and will be away from a computer to listen to the show with. Someone will need to fill me in on the jams Chola throws and if there are any more breathless phone calls from the mysterious Anonima. Radio Chola airs Wednesdays from 7:30pm to 10:00pm at Kill Radio.

Peace,

Rio