‘Bean & Chisme’ web show tells it like it is, San Antonio style
Two savvy media professionals in San Antonio have built the perfect platform for entertaining and educating fellow Latinos about their culture. All it took was unleashing their inner hoodrat.
That platform is “Bean & Chisme,” a live web show by Nina Duran, former publisher of the bilingual newspaper La Prensa, and Samantha Najera, CEO of the creative marketing firm HeartFire Media. It features raucous sketch comedy and unfiltered talk about all things Latino.
As for the so-called hoodrats, meet Lil’ Frijolita and Lil’ Chismosa, Duran and Najera’s alter-egos. They embody chola subculture from their bold black eyebrows to their long white tube socks, with the attitude and street-smarts to match.
The “Bean & Chisme” mission: Spoof and spotlight the topics Latinos relate to no matter how taboo. Or as Lil’ Chismosa and Lil’ Frijolita put it, they “call you out on your (expletive) and enjoy teaching la raza a thing or two about life.”
“The whole goal of ‘Bean & Chisme’ was to not just draw attention to the Latino culture but to the San Antonio South Texas vibe, living as a Mexican American. All of that,” Najera said. “We want to celebrate that and bring attention to it.”
So far “Bean & Chisme” has captured the attention of more than 90,000 followers on their Facebook page (@beanchisme). And a handful of original videos by the duo have racked up more than half a million views.
Now after a pandemic-forced hiatus from their live online shows, the self-described “two chismosas doing hoodrat things” are back with “Hoodrat Cumbia,” a nalga-shaking new song and music video to mark their return and the return of Fiesta.
“Hoodrat Cumbia” drops Thursday on iTunes, Spotify, Tik Tok and other music streaming and social media platforms, just in time for the first day of Fiesta.
Duran and Najera credit their growing audience to their “crazy chemistry to play verbal ping-pong” and their willingness to take on any topic Latinos can relate to, no matter how taboo.
“We talk about everything from finances to why do you line up for Selena bags but you don’t vote,” Najera said. “How come tios and tias die with no money and we have to have plate sales at the funeral?”
Najera and Duran launched “Bean & Chisme” in October 2017, at first just to have fun with live streaming.
“People kept telling us, ‘You guys are hilarious together,’” Najera said. “And Nina would say, ‘Oh, if only there was a fly on the wall.’”
So the longtime friends decided to share the kinds of conversations out loud that most people wouldn’t dare have in public. But that blunt talk didn’t really take off until a few months later, when Lil’ Frijollita and Lil’ Chismosa came along.
In April 2018, Duran and Najera unveiled the characters at the old Image Shots photo studio in Ingram Park Mall, where they rocked their finest Claire’s dark lipstick and gaudy earrings as a jokey throwback to when they wore such so-called chola gear in the 1990s.
When they posted the photo online, “it went ridiculously viral,” Duran said. “And just like that, in the bathroom of Ingram Park Mall in April of 2018, the hoodrats were born.”
The likes and looks really blew up when the duo started appearing in “Bean & Chisme” spinoff videos, such as “Hoodrats at Fiesta” and “The Real Hoodrats of San Antonio.”
On Facebook alone, “Hoodrats at Fiesta” has more than 367,000 views, while “Real Hoodrats of San Antonio” has 184,000.
Some of the duo’s edgier satirical clips really raise eyebrows and view counts.
“Interview with The Cucuy: Episode 3, Yolanda Saldivar,” a 2019 mock sitdown with the convicted killer of Tejano star Selena, remains “Bean & Chisme’s” top YouTube video with more than 200,000 views. The faux “Frost/Nixon” has Lil’ Chismosa grilling the Saldivar stand-in (San Antonio comedian Joanna Estrada) until Lil’ Frijolita rips off her curly wig and fights her.
Then there’s their 2019 “Frozen” parody, “Do You Wanna Make Tamales?” More than 67,000 have seen the decidedly not-for-children video on Facebook, which stars Duran as a pot-smoking version of Elsa who spikes the tamales for her kid sis and family.
“We want to be like Cheech & Chong,” Najera said, “or like (the Spanish-language entertainment show) ‘El Gordo y La Flaca.’ Maybe if Cheech & Chong and Selena had a baby?”
“Bean & Chisme” may be about two crazy Latinas, Najera said, but their hoodrat humor can shed light on real topics, which can lead to frank conversations that influence change.
“We’re just embracing who we are,” Duran said. “We can embrace and educate our Latino population with a little humor.”
“And we’re educating people just by being ourselves,” Najera said. “Not everybody is just one thing. We’re also business owners and single moms.”
All jokes aside, Duran and Najeda pack some serious media credentials.
Before launching her San Antonio-based marketing and public relations firm in November 2012, Najera spent about a dozen years on both sides of the television camera. While earning her communications degree from the University of the Incarnate Word, she interned at Turner Studios in Atlanta as a production assistant on series such as TBS’s “Movie and a Makeover” and “Dinner & A Movie.” She parlayed that experience into production assistant work at KSAT-TV news and then reported the news for the ABC affiliate in College Station.
Duran’s own behind-the-camera work includes associate producer work at the KENS-TV morning show “Great Day SA.” She later worked her way up from sales to managing partner and then publisher of La Prensa, which her father Florentino “Tino” Duran founded in 1989 as a sort of relaunch of the original La Prensa, which dates back to 1913. Duran closed La Prensa in 2018, about a year after her father’s death.
Much as Najera and Duran enjoy channeling their inner cholas, they said a lot of hard work goes into making their on-screen personas look so easygoing.
“We wrote it, we did everything from the ground up,” Duran said. “We’ve done a good job at parodying, but I hope this also helps people see us as artists.”
Duran and Najera are working on new online shows and skits, and they hope to take their humor to the comedy club now that Fiesta and other large social gatherings are coming back.
In the meantime, the duo hopes that “Hoodrat Cumbia” helps score their San Antonio-based web show a larger national audience. They already have a #HoodratCumbiaChallenge planned for Tik Tok to really get the kids and cool abuelitas shaking and sharing what their mamas gave them.
And there’s nothing like a citywide celebration to get that party started.
“We wanted people to be able to play it wherever. And what better time to do that than Fiesta?” Duran said. “Yeah, our eyebrows are going to be melting this year.”
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