In Miami, chonga is more than just an aesthetic, it’s a way of life.
Chongas are young, working-class women, traditionally of Latin descent, who are sexually expressive and decorate their bodies with loud, flashy and often cheap clothing. Kasey Avalos, known to the world as La Goony Chonga, was introduced to the chonga lifestyle at an early age and before long, it became a large part of her identity. Today, she’s embraced being a chonga in full force and for Avalos, chonga goes deeper than a stage name or an in-your-face attitude. “Being chonga keeps me humble,” Avalos says. “It reminds me to always work with what I’ve got and that it’s not about how much your clothes cost, but how confident you feel in yourself. It’s about being able to look like a million dollars in an inexpensive outfit. As long as I’m chonga, I’m reminded of who I am and what I came from.”
Avalos began embracing the chonga lifestyle as a teenager, accessorizing her school uniform with Chinese slippers, gelled hair and large hoop earrings. As she got older, her style evolved and she experimented with gothic chonga, dominatrix chonga—the list goes on. She’s even incorporated the chonga aesthetic into her tattoo collection. “My most chonga tattoo is probably my tramp stamp,” Avalos shares. “Then there’s the one that my nail artist did for me on the side of my ankle that has these little sparkles in it. She also did a tattoo on my leg that says ‘Es la chongitona que tu conoces,’ which means ‘she is the chongitona that you know.’ It’s a lyric from my song ‘Vicio.’”
Avalos would eventually pay homage to her chonga roots through her musical moniker, after initially going as her Tumblr username—Twiggy Rasta Masta. She began releasing music under this name for her first few years in the business, but the name just wasn’t the right fit. “I’d made a song called ‘Goony Chonga Barbie’ and I just loved the song,” Avalos says. “I was like, ‘You know what, I’d love to call myself a goony chonga.’ I didn’t want to use the word Barbie because that’s Nicki Minaj’s thing and I didn’t want to be a Barbie type of girl. So I made my name La Goony Chonga, which is The Goony Chonga in Spanish.”
The chonga way of life wasn’t the only thing Avalos absorbed from her Miami upbringing, she also was inspired by the music that is the lifeblood of the city—reggaeton. Growing up listening to Daddy Yankee and her idol Ivy Queen, Avalos always aspired to have a career in music. She thought performing in English would be her ticket to stardom. “I was actually super nervous to put out a song in Spanish,” Avalos admits. “I was afraid my fanbase would be confused or just not fuck with it, but the opposite actually happened. I had a lot of people telling me there weren’t other girls who sounded like me in the Latin industry.
“That motivated me because I was like, ‘Wow, people love this and I’m getting way more listeners from overseas,’” she continues. “Once I heard myself on the track in Spanish, I was addicted. Spanish is my first language and I love trying to find new ways to incorporate other genres into my music.”
Although Avalos has gone global, she continues to celebrate and share Miami’s vibrant culture with the masses. During the beginning of her career, she worked as an exotic dancer in some of Miami’s most popular clubs and this had a profound influence on her trap-focused sound. “My intention for dancing was so that I could invest in my career,” Avalos says. “If you listen to my first album, ‘Free Bankroll Chonga,’ that was the time where I was a stripper and I would talk about dancing, being in the club and making money. But not only did being a dancer influence me, so did being in Miami and being Cuban. A lot of the slang I use in my lyrics comes from being Cuban. Growing up and having that culture around me, it was inevitable for me to incorporate it into my music.”
Not long after quitting her job at the club and putting her entire focus on making music full time, Avalos’ career hit new heights. She released her first full-length album, “Dimen5ión,” in 2019, which included some of her biggest breakout hits—“Duro 2005,” “No Quieres Lio” and “Que Te Gusta.” In 2020, she began working on what would become “Descontrol,” her latest EP; however, this project was put on pause due to the pandemic. Without shows to promote music, Avalos sought other means of entertaining an audience.
“In 2017, I linked up with The Chonga Girls and they’d gone viral on Myspace with a parody video called ‘Chongalicious,’” Avalos says. “I thought it would be cool if we gave people chonga makeovers on YouTube, but it never ended up happening with them. Then during quarantine, my manager, who used to be my DJ, was like, ‘Oh my God, what if we do the chonga makeover on me?’ Since I didn’t have any shows and the whole world kind of stopped, ‘Chongafied’ was a cool project for me to take on during quarantine. I started asking all of my influencer friends and I was surprised everybody was down to be on my show and let me do it.”
In her first season of “Chongafied,” Avalos has transformed the likes of Kreayshawn and Luna Lovebad into certified chonga baddies. Through this series, we’ve been able to not only learn more about the chonga subculture, but have been able to appreciate Avalos’ personality in a new way. “I love doing makeovers and seeing how people feel themselves,” Avalos says. “Just seeing their reaction and how confident they feel after—I think that’s my favorite part, honestly.”
Avalos plans to finish out season one of “Chongafied” with a giveaway offering one lucky fan the opportunity to be made over by the queen herself. Now that the world is opening back up, she’s shifted her focus back to music, having released her latest EP in July 2021 and is already preparing some new music for the near future. “I’ve been working on this new single that I’m dropping, it’s called ‘No Quieres Lio 2,’” Avalos says. “When I made the song, I didn’t intend it to become the sequel to ‘No Quieres Lio.’ It’s on a drill beat and when I heard the beat I was like, ‘There are no girls rapping in Spanish over a beat like this.’ Then I ended up making a song that has the same energy as ‘No Quieres Lio’—a ‘do not fuck with me’ type of song.”
La Goony Chonga thrives while drawing outside the lines. Whether it’s her music, her YouTube series or her tattoos, she proves time and time again that she’s one of a kind. There’s only one La Goony Chonga, and the world better be ready.