Growing up in a barrio in Santa Ana my dad worked to keep me and my brother out of the criminal element. I wasn't allowed to wear wino shoes and dress as the other kids did. When your surrounded by chicanos designer is a no go. My mother always thought it was just unfashionable and not a good look for her kids. Today.. it's a different story. Some how the chola is just as mystical a creature to style as Charo crossed with Dolly Parton. The higher the hair the closer to godliness. The eyebrows painstakingly executed. To some the cholo is a figure of heightened masculinity, maybe a sexual fantasy. The chola a form of kabuki and drag with a quete in her purse. Cholos and Cholas would walk in a full unison side by side to make others walk in the street whom were not from there barrio/street. Now I see that the cholo style has become, dare I type it "IN".
The most high profile style vampire of this sub culture is Gwen Stefani. Be it she too is from Orange County and no stranger to chicano chic. But I have to admit.. it all started with the Pachucco's of the thirties and forties.. The Zoot. Pressed and starched and out cruising. Not in the gay sense of lurking in the fucking bushes of Hampstead Heath. My cousins on my dad's side would iron and starch their plain white tee's and stay impeccably white. Keeping their jeans prison blue. My dad would tell me how he maintained his clothes while locked up in jail.
The thing that has always impressed me about the chicano culture is that they showed a great pride in actually dressing. Be it you didn't need a lot of money and it was a look that was cheap and affordable, but took time to groom and get ready. I still dry clean my 501 and people always ask how I keep them so deep true blue. It's amazing that the Barrio has become a style that the Japanese kids inhabit. The gangster script seems to be a favorite with some of our shop customers. Yet most of them have never even seen a drive by let alone ever been jumped.
As for the Chola.... My tia Stella son had a girlfriend whom was your typical chola. That bitch would paint her face down. The eyebrows were arched to make any drag queen sigh in envy. Lashes double stacked and gravity defying hair. As a kid I saw her apply her make up for a full hour. If you ever watch a woman do her make up it is quite a erotic to sit and watch such a ritual. So now tagging/graffiti is hung on Gallery walls and kids at malls want to buy the latest
pair of Dickies. The cholo styling has come along way, but the one thing that always mak me chuckle with laughter is the GAY CHOLO/CHOLA. You can normally spot them, their easy to identifu cause the both pluck their eyebrows.