When mami needed to decompress from a grueling day of work and childcare, she tuned into her favorite pastime: telenovelas. For the modern-day Latina, busting our ass in school, hustlin’ to make our dreams come true and creating change in our communities, we need our escape, too. Enter Locatora Radio, a radiophonic novela.
Like traditional novelas, the podcast creates community. Home girls get together and tune in for brown girl hour. But the white-passing characters are replaced with golden hosts Mala Muñoz and Diosa Femme, who ditch sexist plotlines for discussions on mental health, trauma, race, sexuality and gender expression – still as glamorous as your favorite show villain, however.
“It’s a moment in time made by brown girls, for brown girls,” say the locatoras, friends from Los Angeles who share an equal passion for feminism as they do femme-ness.
Through the podcast, the women celebrate and explore the brilliance, creativity and legacies of femmes of color – a group that isn’t always recognized for its skill and intelligence.
One way they counter this is by bigging up femme tech, the science, for instance, behind beauty and hair products, in one of their capitulos. “It’s us reimagining what STEM looks like and honoring the genius of women and femme people of color,” Diosa, 23, said.
In another episode, the hosts talk with Afro-Peruvian choreographer Nadia Calmet to show how dance, often considered nothing more than an entertaining hobby, has been used as a form of resistance against white supremacy.
The podcast alone is an example of femme brilliance: two brown college-educated Latinas breaking down queer and feminist theories and concepts in accessible language that’s relatable to the everyday, around-the-way girl and her hermanxs all while maintaining a hyper-feminine and hyper-visible presentation.
“We didn’t see really girly, super femme folks doing academic analysis,” Mala, 25, said, explaining why the pair created Locatora Radio in 2016.
One of the hosts’ biggest goals is to deconstruct, decolonize and destigmatize what it means to be a loca, a crazy woman. The podcast’s name replaces the “u” in locutor, a radio DJ, with an “a” in an effort to capture the mujeres’ politics of reimagining what a loca is and reclaiming its narrative.
For instance, in the podcast’s first capitulo, “Loca Epistemologies,” the hosts discuss how gendered and raced trauma are used in the construction of crazy-making.
“In Latino folklore, we have these figures, for example, for Chicanos, there’s La Llorona and La Malinche, women who have been pathologized, considered negative,” Diosa, a queer part-mexicana, part-peruana community organizer, said. “But in our first capitulo, we broke that down and said this is probably a survivor narrative. These are colonized women dealing with racial and gender hierarchies. Women have to respond to a lot of violence, so that’s an example of how we take a narrative and flip it.”
For Mala, a third-generation Chicana with Puerto Rican heritage, this is essential. As a survivor advocate and crisis counselor, it’s crucial for her that women deemed locas today don’t let the word, often hurled to discredit them, make them lose sight of their worth and power.
“We like the word loca from a survivor standpoint. There are so many survivors and women who are called ‘crazy.’ So, from a survivor mental health standpoint, we say, ‘yes, we are crazy, but we are still going to talk and you will listen to us,’” she said.
These self-affirmations are what drive the podcast. For instance, when asked why Locatora Radio is essential, Mala responds: “It’s necessary because we said so. We decided that it was.”
The women aren’t waiting around for permission or recognition from the white, male gatekeepers of mainstream media. They’re taking up space on iTunes and SoundCloud. They’re bringing their sexy, their roar and their street and school intelligence where’s it’s unwelcome, and yelling, "y que” from their perfectly matted lips.
But, as both Mala and Diosa acknowledge, they’re not the first to do it. Latina writers, particularly Sandra Cisneros, paved the way for their unapologetic confidence.
“We want to recognize the ones that did it before us and gave us our sense of self and ways, and she was the cornerstone,” Mala says of the Chicana feminist writer, whose line, "I am the woman of myth and bullshit” from the poem “Loose Women” was the inspiration behind the locatoras’ tagline, “Mamis of Myth and Bullshit.”
“We are authoring our own bullshit. It might be bullshit, but it’s ours. We are creating our own narrative,” Mala added.
And that self-described BS is inspiring its thousands of listeners from across the country and world, who often leave comments that the podcast, and the women behind it, is “affirming, needed, necessary, validating and positive.”
“Our goal is to empower and unite women and femmes of color across the globe,” Diosa said – and the duo is doing just that, one capitulo at a time.