This story is part of Prism’s series, Sex Positivity and the Arts. Read the rest of the series here.
While Twitter tends to be a dumpster fire for women of color, 2013 was an interesting time to be on the site. People like Feminista Jones had emerged to the masses as Black feminist luminaries, influencing young women like Diosa Femme and Mala Muñoz, college students living on opposite ends of the country who were engaging in the online discourse. Mala and Diosa started following each other, spurring what they call their “millennial love story”—a powerful friendship that would form the basis of their creative work together.
Not long after the two connected online, Mala graduated from college and returned to Los Angeles where she met Diosa for the first time in 2016. It was an event in downtown Los Angeles they both saw promoted on Facebook. The Latina Rebels network was co-hosting a meetup with Chingona Fire, a Latina feminist poetry collective founded by Angela Aguirre and Yesika Salgado. A sisterhood was formed seemingly overnight. The new crew of creatives jokingly dubbed themselves the “Mamí Collective,” and each would go on to carve out their own creative space in Los Angeles: Aguirre wrote a poetry book and launched the Millennial Mija Podcast; Salgado became an award-winning poet, publishing three books in rapid succession; and Diosa and Mala created Locatora Radio, part “radiophonic novela,” part multimedia production company committed to archiving and celebrating women of color through podcasting, filmmaking, educational workshops, and live events.
If there were ever a podcast capable of having an aesthetic, it would be Locatora Radio. The imagery associated with “Las Mamis of Myth and Bullshit,” as Mala and Diosa are known, screams femme supremacy: pink roses, red acrylics, winged eyeliner, and gold jewelry galore. To know Locatora Radio is to be invited into a universe of Latina excellence. A perfect illustration was last year’s sci-fi short film created as part of the duo’s annual podcasting party in Los Angeles. The theme? A gender-tech dystopia where an underground femme resistance gains strength against the patriarchy. Thankfully Mala and Diosa were equipped to lead the revolution because of their pirate radio station Radio LOQA, the “femme technology” for which was housed inside the fictitious Comadre Nails Salon.
The glitz and camp are simply fun extras. Locatora Radio regularly features filmmakers, journalists, writers, educators, politicos, podcasters, entrepreneurs, and other Latino experts, mediamakers, and headline-grabbers ignored or outright erased by the mainstream media. But there are also the hosts themselves, who are regularly slept on despite having broad backgrounds in sex education, organizing, advocacy, self-defense, and disability justice that contribute to their totally one-of-a-kind feminist podcast. Mala and Diosa are unapologetically sex positive, often using their platform to delve into the nuances of complicated issues like consent, pleasure, and play and workplace harassment.
“We’re very happy and willing and wanting to open up the dialogue so people can talk about sex and sexuality, but the caveat is that we have those conversations because of both positive and negative experience,” Mala told Prism. “We are very survivor-centered, so a lot of times we’re talking about sex, but it’s not always because of pleasure or joy. Sometimes it’s about trauma.”
As an example, Locatora Radio did a two-part series called Femme to Femme, the first episode of which focused on the origins of self-defense for women of color. In the follow-up episode called “Don’t Leak My Nudes,” the women delved into protective measures that femmes can take when sharing nudes with a partner.
Diosa relishes diving into subjects usually considered taboo. Whether it’s religion, sexuality, or being “the other woman,” the podcasters aim to shine a light on what’s swept under the rug. This urge began for Diosa and Mala when they were young. Both identify as “recovering Catholics.” It was actually their respective experiences in Catholic school that helped shape their feminism and created the desire to address patriarchy and machismo in their communities.
Diosa told Prism that her time in Catholic school was her earliest experience with the kind of policing that femmes experience.
“The school policed what we could wear, if we could wear makeup, and how we could act; they policed our creativity. I didn’t have the language at the time to articulate this kind of policing of femmes and our bodies; the way they try to stifle our self-expression,” Diosa said. “So everything you see related to our podcast—how femme we are, how pink our promotional materials are, it’s not just intended to be cutesy; it’s not frivolous. We are intentionally claiming our space and taking up space in podcasting, which is still dominated by white men.”
While the pandemic has disrupted some of their plans, Mala and Diosa have used the time to cast their net wider. The duo have always considered themselves a production company because they produce all of their own audio content, live events, short films, and much of their visual content. Recently Mala quit her job to pursue pitching documentary and podcast ideas full-time. Now that we’re all stuck at home, the duo is also developing webinars.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, Mala and Diosa took episodes of their podcast and turned them into workshops for women of color, mostly related to sex, sexuality, and consent. The response to these university events illustrated how desperately they were needed. At one university, the turnout for the duo’s Multidimensional Heaux workshop was sparse because the Latino sorority on campus dissuaded women from attending and learning about “ho shit.” At another university, their workshop “Sex While Latinx” received an overwhelming response. It was a packed house, Mala said, and so many students simply wanted to share stories about what it was like to grow up in a “culture of silence.”
“It was so clear the shame kids were carrying and the ways their parents used scare tactics because of their own fears. Parents from our communities want to keep their kids safe, especially their girls, but there can be so little cultural awareness of violence against women and how that gets perpetuated,” Mala said. “The adaptive responses to rape culture from many Latinx households is to attempt to control daughters, and that has long-term effects on our sex and sexuality. Making these connections clear is a really big part of our work.”
Diosa told Prism she knows the work Locatora Radio does is important, but she also knows the reason their pitches have been overlooked and shot down is because they are Latina femmes whose work speaks directly to their communities. Companies have passed on the duo because they said they already had “a Latino show.” That’s right, a single show featuring Latino people.
“They want us to feel like there’s only room for one Latinx show in a network, like there’s only room for one show to be produced by a person of color,” Diosa said. “But our stories and experiences are diverse. The Latinx community is not a monolith. If we were white guys, what we are pitching would have been snatched up already. But we’re not, so we’re just going to keep doing our thing and pushing forward.”