Photos: The vida loca of East L.A. teen gang culture in the 90s
Rian Dundon

Great photo essay.

Part of my childhood and adulthood was spent in Highland Parque. I wasn’t a gangster, but I knew guys that were, guys with whom I went to elementary school. I had a love/hate relationship relationship with the cholos, a fascination/fear of their culture. Any one of those guys were buddies one on one, but they scared the shit out of me in a group. You could get beat if a vato thought you looked at him wrong, and your best friend in first grade would stand there or join in. They were a pack of wolves when they got together and it was a bad idea to forget you were a comparative lamb.

So anyway.

There was this magazine, Teen Angel. Mostly it was made up from contributions from gangsters from all around California. I used to buy it at the tienda on Ave. 50 and El Paso Drive. I think it was Ray’s Market, but it could have been Happy’s Market across the street.

It was filled with photos of cholos and cholas, taken by themselves. Poems, drawings, other writing, stuff like that.

Mi varrio was ruled by the Avenues

Also worth mentioning is the work of Jaime Hernandez, who collaborated on the comic book Love & Rockets. Many of his stories were set in the intersection of gang culture and punk culture.

First frame of Jaime Hernandez’s story Vida Loca: The Death of Speedy Ortiz
The tía mentioned is a luchadora, of course.
Set in the mythical Varrio Hoppers, it sure likes like East Los to me.

Since I’m using images from something still in print without permission, allow me to make up for it by linking to the graphic novel reprint. The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Marcos_El_Malo’s story.