Right now entertainer Chingo Bling has more than a million fans on his social media accounts. What he doesn't have is a major record deal. Or a big-studio film in production. He doesn't have any endorsement deals, no Hollywood agent. Why not? Hollywood hasn't been able to figure out what to do with the multi-talented rapper/actor/director/comedian/author/fashion designer/astronaut.
No, wait, he dropped out of that astronaut thing.
But even without flying into space, Bling, headlining a comedy tour now that includes two shows at the Houston Improv on October 15, has a lot to offer the entertainment industry. At least his million-plus fans think so.
While Hollywood bemoans its inability to reach a significant Hispanic audience, Bling keeps amassing fans. What's the industry missing?
"They're missing me," he says. "Everybody wants the bicultural, bilingual, Mexican-American millennials. That's what's hot right now, Latino millennials, right? That's me!
"So some guy will tell me, 'Oh, we think you're a perfect fit for this or that.' But then nothing ever happens. They come back and say, 'Ah, what song do you have on the radio right now?' Man, I don't have anything on the radio. Don't worry about that, I've got an audience. Then they come back and say, 'Well, my boss doesn't really get your kind of humor. We're not really sure what to do with you.'
"I tell them, 'Hey, you don't have to put me in the project. I can give you promotional ideas, I can give you whatever you need. Let's figure this out.' But naw, they don't get it. I think I'm going to be old and bald by the time somebody figures it out. Somebody's gonna say, 'Oh, hey, we think you can help translate this to the Latino audience!' I'm gonna be, 'Naw, man, I'm too old now. You missed it.'"
While Hollywood figures out what it needs to attract Latino millennials, Bling mounts his own projects. Along with the current comedy tour, he's got a web-based sitcom and a start-up film company, Aguila Films. He's also working on a soon-to-be-launched podcast and in his spare time, he hawks an horchata-flavored energy drink at fitness cons.
Oh, and he's got one super-secret project under wraps. Normally Bling and his team document everything – shows, rehearsals, traveling, all of it – and keep fans up to date with what they're doing. Not on this project.
“We're taking the mixtape approach. Like Beyoncé will just drop a tape with no real build-up and still it's successful. I think that's the nature of today's audience. They're like, 'We don't want to hear about something for two weeks before it comes out. By the time it comes out, it's old, I'm already tired of it. Catch me when I'm really excited about it; don't just tease me.'"
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Houston comedian Blame the Comic and Dallas funny man Midnite join Bling onstage at the Improv. While Bling admits much of his work has a DIY feel, the stand-up tour is different.
"A lot of my stuff is pretty crude. A lot of my production values are pretty raw. I know that," he says. "But this is a professional show. It's not like an open-mike or a talent show. We're real. I can't take people's time, people's money and then not give them a good show. There are lots of choices for people. They can go have a steak somewhere; they can watch a billion-dollar movie with CGI everything. There's a lot of competition out there."
The first of the two scheduled shows is already sold out. Bling finds that encouraging. “Houston's got my back. I'm from here and I've been around for a minute. It feels good to do good here in my own backyard."
See Chingo Bling at 8 and 10 p.m. on October 15. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713-333-8800 or visit improvhouston.com. $20 to $30.