In the world of "Ask a..." Internet phenomenons, Ask a Chola ranks somewhere between Ask a Korean and Ask a Ninja: a woman bedecked in a bandanna, saucer eyes and pasty skin visible, offering absurdist "comedy" by pretending to be a chola. I have to admit: I liked it better when Gwen Stefani did the gabacha gangsta schtick--at least she gave a shout-out to a chola at Loara High as inspiration for her look. I've only seen some of Ask a Chola's YouTube episodes and mildly laughed maybe twice. I much prefer her doctored pictures placing her face in different scenarios--with E.T., for instance, or other random shit. Anyhoo, there was a nasty 'Net battle involving her last week that outed her real identity to the world and involves our fair naranja.
Ask a Chola (which describes herself on her Twitter account as "a new media artist/cultural critic/anarchist/killer/blogger/chola. My reality is an experiment in web 2.0. Tweeting en Espanglish") has its fans, but also furious detractors that have long obsessed over her real identity and insist she makes a mockery out of Mexican women. Last week, someone set up a mock Ask a Chola page on Facebook and outed Chola for the world to see: her real name is Chloe Michalopolous, and she's a SanTana loft dweller.
Damn, that's thug life there!
"I'm a 36-year-old white woman named Chloe. I have repeatedly claimed that 'I am Aztlan,' that 'I am Mexican', and that 'I am a Chola," the mock page's "About Me" read. "However, none of this is true. I am simply a wealthy white girl who lives in a gentrified portion of Orange County known as Santa Ana. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans used to live there before until white people like me made sure to build lofts they couldn't afford to live in anymore."
The fake Ask a Chola Facebook page went on to show damning proof that Michalopolous and Ask a Chola were one and the same, most damning being two pictures that showed a smiling Michalopolous wearing a long-sleeved top with an alligator print, and the next one showing the same woman now donning the Chola green bandanna, the same saucer eyes, the same hair--one and the same. But I speak in the past tense because Facebook took down the mock Ask a Chola page and the real Ask a Chola page due to a blistering battle between Michalopolous' detractors (mostly of the Chicano Studies ilk) who reported the real page as offensive to Mexis; and her defenders, mostly of the type who thought the Taco Bell Chihuahua was funny, and why do people get upset about racial stereotypes--get over it!--who reported the fake page as mockery. Not only that, but the fake Ask a Chola page had a YouTube clip of the real Michalopolous pretending to be a ditzy Orange County girl going to an anti-war rally--that mock video was taken down by YouTube after Ask a Chola's fans complained it wasn't authorized by the real Ask a Chola. Headache yet?
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Somewhere in the middle was Wendy Carrillo, who hosts the popular Knowledge is Power program on KPWR-FM 105.9 every Sunday morning at 6 a.m. She calls herself an Ask a Chola fan and took issue with the idea that only Mexicans can mock Mexicans. "So, who gets to decide who can be a chola artist exploring identity?" she wrote on her blog. "And if we are so caught up in negative portrayals of our community, do actual cholos and cholas see themselves as negative aspects of our communities? are cholas gangmembers or is it a style? and where are their viewpoints on this conversation?"
Why Michalopolous doesn't want anyone to know that she does Ask a Chola, or that she's not from LA like she claims she is (Ask a Chola previously claimed to be "Soledad," from East Los Angeles), is beyond me. But the woman is zealous about making sure no one learns she lives in Orange County: about a year ago, someone told me that someone was leaving fliers plugging Ask a Chola at Mother's Market in SanTana. The person told me because they thought Ask a Chola was ripping me off; I explained the schtick to the person, and they understood. I left a comment on Ask a Chola's Facebook page asking what she was doing in SanTana, as I always assumed she was an LA product and thought it was cool she was actually from OC. She cracked some joke about needing probiotic food, but then went around, according to my original, demanding to know who told me that she lived in SanTana.
Touchy touchy...in the meanwhile, here's an Ask a Chola video for folks to decide or deride...