Issue No.4 November 29, 2000

IGNITE ~ The Boriqua in Me
HOT GIRLZ ~ Vinia Mojica
ISM ~ Ihlo
CHICA TO CHICA ~ Life After Incarceration


intro and overview

Thanks to Elaine Hernandez, Naomi Rivera, Berta Colon and Cynthia Serrano, I grew up with an in depth understanding and appreciation for Puerto Rican culture. Actually I more than understood it, I fully embraced it and incorporated it into my life. When I was twelve the two biggest heartthrobs in my life were Michael Jackson and Miguel Cancel of Menudo. I knew all of Michael’s moves to “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” and could sing all of the words to Miguel’s “Quiero Rock.” I would eat pasteles at Cynthia’s house and she would have sweet potato pie at mine. Growing up in the Bronx, somewhere between the emergence of hip hop, Adobo seasoning, cherry flavored lip gloss and Gun Hill Road, boriquenas and nubian princesses were homegirls running in the same crew. Not even my mom said anything to me or thought that my love for Menudo or the telenovela, “Juanma y WeWe,” was insane. She knew that me and my girls were far from having an identity crisis. We all knew that the roots of our heritage could be traced back to Africa. As a matter of fact, most morenas I knew looked more like Lauryn Hill than they did Jennifer Lopez. Hopefully mainstream media will get a clue and feature a broader representation of all Latinas. This is why I just could not let Puerto Rican Heritage Month go by without featuring a couple of Hot Girlz that are representing for Boriqua.

Nicole Moore, Editor


inspired, creative and groundbreaking


Vinia Mojica

“She is a constant in a cultural form where disposability is a hallmark,” reads a line from Vinia Mojica’s bio. Vinia, who has probably been featured on more records than Wyclef and Queen Latifah combined, is just now realizing what true staying power entails. The New York City native, who now resides in Long Island City, Queens, has appeared on over twenty-five albums with the likes of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, The Jungle Brothers, Mos Def, Common, Eagle Eye Cherry, Arto Lindsay, Youssou N’Dour and most recently on Talib Kweli and Hi Tek’s, “The Blast” from their album Reflection Eternal. Getting her big break in 1988, Vinia, 30, emerged singing for Al B. Sure on the New Edition Heartbreak Tour. Fast forward twelve years and Al B. has vanished off the face of the earth and New Edition is an enigma to most girls under 21, but Vinia is still ripping mics with her gentle, almost anti-calibrated flow. She’s endured the unraveling of her Warner Bros. Records deal and has learned to resonate and thrive outside of the infamous Native Tongues cipher. Taking a break from the recording of her solo album, this olive complexioned boriqueña talks to theHotness about sustenance and substance.

theHotness: How did you end-up touring around the world with Al B. Sure at the age of 18?

Vinia: I went to Brooklyn College and made friends with a girl whose brother, Gene Lake (drummer who presently plays with Me'Shell NdegeOcello), was playing with a band called Surface and was about to start drumming for Al. His sister, my friend, wanted to sing background so she asked me to go with her to the audition. I also tried out with no expectations and ended up getting it and she didn’t which was really traumatic for me. On top of that, I had to deal with promoters telling me to lose 15 pounds in two weeks.

tH: What was it like in NYC when you returned from the tour?

V: Hiphop was on the verge of some shit. I wasn’t aware of it then but we were on the underground set. We were the underground set. We hung out at Milky Way and Hotel Amazon. I saw Latifah’s performance at Hotel Amazon and that same night De La and Tribe performed together for the first time. That was the beginnings of what would become Native Tongues.

tH: What’s your process for writing songs?

V: I think every song is a love song, whether it’s political or not. I think I write about observations about myself. I don’t think that it’s fair to separate myself from the world. Everything is a reflection.

tH: Does the business of making music hinder your creative flow?

V: Well that’s exactly why I don’t read Billboard (magazine). I don’t need that stress. I have enough stress without checking how many units I’ve sold and who is number one this week.

tH: After appearing on so many records, have you felt pressured to record your own album?

V: Honestly I didn’t even think about it until six years ago and I think that that freaks people out. I never even had a demo when Warner Bros. offered me my deal. I got that on the strength of the other work I had done. It’s funny because a few people wanted to sign me, but it just didn’t feel right. Heavy (D) and Andre (Harrell) offered me a deal but everyone had their image of what I’m supposed to be. They were like “you are the Ghetto Sade.” And I didn’t know about all that so I passed and went to Warner Bros. Now that I’m released from Warner’s deal, I’m on the verge of what’s for me and it’s comfortable for me. I mean how many “Behind The Music’s” do you watch and the motherfucker is like “I wish I would have known who I was.” Fuck that shit! I know who I am. I just had this revelation recently and realized just how ungrateful I’ve been. Everyone was coming at me asking me when am I going to do my thing and “get out there.” And I sat there one day at home and wrote down every song I’ve recorded and realized that I am on twenty-six records. The fact that I hadn’t kept track of my recordings and didn’t realize the amount of work I had accomplished made me so upset. I just sat there and cried because I know how many people dream about doing one song or one record, and here I was with twenty-six and not satisfied. Immediately it was clear that this was my thing. And I knew then I was fulfilled. And God said to me: “Enough is enough. Twenty-six records are more than enough of an achievement.” Then I knew it was all meant to b

~ N. Moore




music, books, film, tv and websites



Last year Sandra Lugo, 32, bought a leather bustier and immediately it was love at first sight. She even goes so far as to admit that she would often sleep in the brown cowhide. This may sound strange, but to the clothing designer and former model it was just a natural attraction based on her love of beautiful, sensual garments.

In May, Sandra took her passion for leather and suede and her several years of design experience at major fashion houses like Romeo Gigli and Christian Lacroix and literally hit the skins to create Ihlo. Ihlo which is a play on the Spanish word “hilo” meaning “thread” is a new ready-to-wear line that features backless anaconda evening dresses and tie-dyed lamb suede skirts. Together with her long time friend and roommate, Midgi Lee Lamboy, 27, Sandra removed the carpeting in the livingroom and set-up shop in their Brooklyn apartment. What makes Ihlo such an interesting venture is the evolutionist philosophy rooted in the fundamentals of the company’s creation.

“Unlike man-made fabrics, God gave us leather. It’s natural and acts as a second skin for our bodies. Polyester and spandex do not break down in the environment. When leather is used up, it disintegrates back to the earth and something will (eventually) grow from it. Besides if you came face to face with an anaconda, do you think it would not kill you out of some consideration for your skin? It’s really a matter of ‘survival of the fittest,’” explains Sandra while pouring a glass of coquito.

Indeed her natural selection perspective is almost enough to leave the most outspoken animal rights activist rethinking their politics. By taking out the glitz and haughtiness often associated with leather (and those that wear it), Sandra and Midgi have given their crocheted halters an organic appeal that doesn’t deny the value of the life of the animal, but rather it puts it in a biological, wholistic perspective. Sandra emphasizes: “The weight of leather on the body, particularly on the female body, is extraordinary. When you wear leather you feel it warm your skin naturally and it feels good. It’s a gift from nature and I like that connection.” Surely Sandra and Midgi, who both hail from Puerto Rico, are not the only ones who like the connection. In the last year their collection has gone from Park Slope to Park Avenue and can also be found in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Presently the designing duo is gearing up for their next showing. As they continue to develop and distinguish their aesthetic by combining the Gothic lines and shapes of old school England with the colors and textures of Puerto Rico, Sandra and Midgi strive to keep their unique spirit of environmentally sensual craftsmanship fresh. It seems that the one thread that binds this operation together is their desire to reinvent how women look at “sexy” clothing and in turn, how they look in sexy clothes. Midgi says: “The collection is always (going to be) about complimenting and adding to a woman’s intellectual sexuality. The challenge is to revamp traditional styles, but not alter the natural character of the fabric and still capture the timelessness and sophistication of both the woman and the skin.”

~ N. Moore




expressing ourselves


Life After Incarceration:
Freedom for A Former Political Prisoner
by Dylcia Pagán

I am a former Puerto Rican political prisoner who was released from prison by a presidential pardon on September 10,1999 after having served almost 20 years for fighting for the independence of my homeland, Puerto Rico.

I must say that this has been the most incredible time in my life. My exuberance comes from this truly historical moment for Puerto Rico. During my incarceration I was always aware of the political developments on the island. I spent many hours writing letters of solidarity for numerous activities, as well as on the phone talking with organizations and community supporters so that I could feel a part of our movement. Now I am able to witness for myself all that is happening around the issue of Vieques.

I have met women who, prior to the creation of the campamentos in Vieques, were housewives and teachers that were not involved. There is no question that everyday my people are becoming more and more aware of the political reality of colonization. The unity that has developed in all sectors of the Puerto Rican populace is growing rapidly.

During my many years of incarceration, I never lost hope in my people or my struggle. As I speak with so many different people, I see the love and respect they have for my fellow comrades and myself. All of these testimonies of love and support reinforce what I tell folks so often -- that I have no regrets. You are probably wondering what am I doing with my life? I have spoken at many universities and have also shown the nationally aired PBS special, “The Double Life of Ernesto Gomez.” This is a one-hour documentary about the year my son, Guillermo, and I met after 10 years of separation.

I have many projects in mind for the future: a book about my experiences in prison, a healing center for men and women to provide a holistic approach to empowerment, and a variety of documentaries. It may seem that I have very ambitious goals, but the reality is that there is so much of our history and culture that needs to be made available to our youth as well as the Diaspora at large. A continuing process of organizing and creating consciousness will determine what the future holds for Puerto Rico and Her people.

After almost 20 years of incarceration, today I find myself living in freedom— enjoying the sunshine, the beaches, all of the beautiful fauna and flora of my homeland. But at times, a certain sadness enters my being because I realize that as I am enjoying all of this freedom, I have left behind six of my Puerto Rican comrades, several North American political prisoners, numerous new African political prisoners and that Mumia Abu Jamal’s life is still threatened.

One does not know what the future holds for us, but I have learned to live in the moment, and in doing so I know many blessings will come. MARINA FUERA DE VIEQUES!

~ Dylcia Pagán is presently working in Puerto Rico at Paradiso Films, while trying to obtain funding for her documentary "999 LIBRE,” a video journal about her re-entry to society and her personal healing process. You can send all comments and notes to Dylcia at the following e-mail address:






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© theHotness 2002