Where is This Foo Going? Behind the Foo Phenomenon of @FoosGoneWild
2:18 PM PDT on July 11, 2019
[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hat exactly is a foo? According to the founder of the social media sensation known as Foos Gone Wild, the ‘hood-brilliant Instagram and Twitter account @foosgonewild, “a foo is a foo, you just know one when you see one.”
By far, FGW’s most popular skit series and what made them rise to the top ahead of the rest of the foo-centered accounts on Instagram are their “Foo Files.” A video of a classic foo specimen that is walking, riding a bicycle, or doing another foo-related activity. It is dubbed to “The X-Files” T.V. show theme song, alien-like sound effects, and the admin foo roasting the fictionalized character in a high-pitched voice.
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This hyper-niche form of barrio-rooted comedy represents a flowering of ‘cholo-adjacent’ pop culture in a period where violence related to Latino street gangs has been on the decline, yet cholo-based fashions are celebrated in Vogue and standup comedians tour the country with entire cholo slang-based monologues. This account is just the latest iteration.
It is a portal that instantly transports its followers to a nostalgic, barrio-heavy Los Angeles where low riders still cruise the boulevards bumping oldies, backyard kickbacks are cracking every weekend, and party lines were still the main way to hook up.
It’s a living ode to a Califas way of life that is becoming extinct in an age of large-scale gentrification and the development of previously rough barrios across California. It is a portal that instantly transports its followers to a nostalgic, barrio-heavy Los Angeles where low riders still cruise the boulevards bumping oldies, backyard kickbacks are cracking every weekend, and party lines were still the main way to hook up. A version of L.A. made famous in iconic Mexican-American movies like Blood In, Blood Out that only a few proud Angelenos can fully identify with. You’ll see this in some of the comments from transplanted followers who pour their heart out admitting how much they love the page for reminding them of home.
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It’s rare to hear from Foos Gone Wild offline. The admin which I shall refer to as King Foo has met up for lunch at his favorite taco in the city to try to get to the bottom of this age-old question.
Foos Gone Wild is an Instagram account that takes user submitted photos and videos and adds insanely witty captions or voice-overs. There are also original animations. It’s easy to dismiss the account as yet another meme or skit account on Instagram but to its loyal fans, it’s more than that.
I want to know everything there is to know about the bonafide urban social media phenomenon that many have called “the next WorldStar,” like the inspiration behind his viral “Foo Files” videos, his original foo-themed satire rap tracks, his upcoming collaboration with Cuco, and finally answer the question of the century: Where is this foo going? He chooses to meet at Mariscos Jalisco since it is about a mile away from his FGW headquarters office in a warehouse. He shows up with one of those jumbo michelada mix Styrofoam cups and a tallboy in a paper bag. He is tall, clean-cut, is wearing a nice watch, and is wearing a black t-shirt that reads Suavecito in Old English font.
"It’s cholo folk art."
He has asked to remain anonymous and has only one condition in order for this first-ever interview to take place. Firstly, to disclose that “Foos Gone Wild is not ran by a white foo,” contrary to what his haters and trolls say in the comment section. He chuckles after telling me this request, but the scar on his lower right chest after surviving being stabbed in a bar fight proves that he is indeed a veterano of foo culture and not someone who is doing it out of exploitation reasons. He would also like to share that “FGW is a collective of foos from Tijuana, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oxnard.” He is referring to all of his followers who submit dozens of videos and photos of foos to him on a daily basis.
“It’s sad that foos don’t think a Mexican foo can take it this far this quick.” In just a year, he has turned the parody account into a full-time business by selling clever t-shirts that appeal to fellow foos and foo fans. He made enough money to quit his 9 to 5 job as a painter late last year.
Why Foos Love FGW
"It’s cholo folk art” says local DJ Diego Guerrero, “Or, I guess you can call it “foo-lk art.” He is alluding to the unique genre of street culture made famous in Southern California centered on baggy jeans, oversized white t-shirts, and knee-high tube socks. He is a fan of the FGW’s original hip hop music that they release in both limited vinyl and online form, and the original music videos by animator, Mike Meds, who works closely with FGW on their videos.
“It’s the kind of stuff that appeals to you if you grew up in the ‘hood, because if you weren’t a cholo, you were always ‘cholo adjacent.’”
Joaquin Valdovinos, the West Coast brand ambassador of Ilegal Mezcal who never fails to tag me on their latest video, summed it up best: “It’s the kind of stuff that appeals to you if you grew up in the ‘hood, because if you weren’t a cholo, you were always ‘cholo adjacent.’”
Like many of his followers who have regularly found themselves chuckling loudly for minutes at a time while rewatching videos over and over or reading the comments, I share them with fellow homies who were also proudly raised in the streets. I try to share this weird sense of joy with my wife from Mexico and explain to her, but she doesn’t get it. The reality is that it’s just a hyper-niche style of humor that appeals to you if you are lucky enough to make it out of whatever lifestyle made you take shelter in the streets to begin with. In other words, you either get it or you don’t.
“I selfishly love it because, in a dark way, it helps me reconcile the bad experiences I had with foos as a kid.”
“I can relate to the comedy, the people, and skits they post. They are of the type of people that I’ve seen growing up in the greater East L.A. area,” says Pico Rivera native Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos, who also regularly tags his friends in posts.
“I’ve gotten some real heartfelt comments and DMs,” King Foo tells me over mouthfuls of shrimp. Things like, “Foos Gone Wild cured my depression.” While that may seem like an overstatement, it captures the general sentiment of why I think people like myself and their followers keep returning to see the latest post.
Anyone can be a foo. “There are Asian foos, white foos, and all kinds of foos.”
For Ernesto Yerena, a local artist who goes way back with King Foo, the reflection gets deep. “I selfishly love it because, in a dark way, it helps me reconcile the bad experiences I had with foos as a kid.” He grew up in El Centro, California, a city full of foos if there ever was one. “At the end of the day, if you’re from El Centro or any other urban city filled with working-class Raza neighborhoods, you will always have a little foo in you no matter what.”
So What Exactly Is a Foo?
For King Foo, the answer to this complex question is simple but it’s a controversial topic that causes arguments in the comment section all the time. However, King Foo would like to get one thing straight: Anyone can be a foo. “There are Asian foos, white foos, and all kinds of foos.” However, except in New York, in which King Foo says, “foos are nonexistent out there. I get DMs all the time telling me how there are no foos in Jersey.”
He does offer some clear foo indicators: “Shaka [Wear] shants (a unique shorts-pant hybrid), bald heads, dirty Cortez sneakers, and smell of Adidas cologne.”
To make it easy on you, just remember: All cholos are foos but not all foos are cholos.
In my experience as a “rocker foo,” which is the term for the subcategory of a foo in the barrio if you had long hair and wore black clothing, the only criteria that I look for is a degree of knuckleheaded-ness in the individual. The kind of roughness that one can only acquire after being raised in an environment where gunshots in the distance become the norm and your friends become your family.
In Español, the closest word that can be translated to foo is charolastra, made famous in Cuaron’s movie, “Y Tu Mamá Tambien.” It means a good friend, or brother, but in a gang sense as well. Last but not least, the widely accepted female conjugation of a foo is foolette.
The first viral Foo Files video that he posted featured a foo slumped over another foo’s shoulder that said, “This is what happens when your homie says ‘you’re not down, foo.’” It turns out that the inspiration behind the Foo Files came from one day him being “high as fuck one day, but not on broken windows.”
Despite the account relying on the use of words like “broken windows” and “skante” for a lot of its humor and its catchphrase being “saca la bolsita,” both slang terms associated with the use of crystal meth. The admin periodically posts disclaimers stating “Foos Gone Wild does not condone the use of drugs” and “smoke weed, not skante.” When I press him on the claims that the account exploits drug abuse in Latino communities, King Foo uses the same defense as Dave Chappelle did in his depiction of his tweaker character “Tyrone Biggums.”
“It’s a comedy page, bro. It’s not to be taken serious. I grew up in a neighborhood where meth was huge and twacked-out people are some of the funniest people. Though, I never fucked with it in my life.”
He has big dreams of making his unique comedy style into an animated series for Netflix or Adult Swim.
Last year, the Vice network’s music site Noisey shouted out FGW on its Instagram, one of the earliest incursions for the brand on more mainstream platforms. “I didn’t know what ‘Saca La Bolsita’ or ‘Broken Windows’ were at first but the shit still made me laugh because the delivery is so good,” says Noisey’s publisher, Trevor Silmser, an early fan of the account.
Where Is This Foo Going?
For starters, Foos Gone Wild is making a significant cameo in Cuco’s first full-length album under Interscope. “That foo is a big supporter of the page.” He hopes to also collaborate with actor Mario Lopez, who follows the page and comments on every other post. He has big dreams of making his unique comedy style into an animated series for Netflix or Adult Swim. “I am going to have the first raw Mexican cartoon. I’m working on it right now.”
As we finish up our lunch, he invites me back to his office to see a day in the life of work with him. He buys a couple more cold tallboys and fires up his Street Fighter 2 arcade cabinet he has on the corner of his spacious office. It’s a Thursday afternoon and we play a few rounds and drink a few beers.
“This is my creative process,” he says. He goes up to his whiteboard and shows me a few skit concepts he will be publishing soon, including one titled “America’s Funniest Foos” that he will be designing in a contest format. He goes live on Instagram for a few minutes and invites his followers to go live with him. In just one minute, he gets 12k viewers. He puts on a hockey mask and sunglasses and makes his voice sound a little higher pitch while inviting people. His viewers who accept the challenge go live with him and act nervous and starstruck when they see themselves splitting screens on their phones with the anonymous admin behind their favorite account.
“I’m not stopping until Foos Gone Wild takes over the world.”
Editor for James Beard Award-winning L.A. TACO. Associate Producer for JBA-winning Las Crónicas Del Taco. Former restaurant scout for Jonathan Gold. Co-Author of "Oaxaca: Home Cooking From the Heart of Mexico (2019, Abrams) and "Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling" (2023, Abrams).
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