reasons to love new york

These Skater Girls Are Too Cool for the Boys

The Brujas.
The Brujas. Photo: Stephanie Griffin

It was in a small skate park on 157th and River Avenue where Sheyla Grullon, 24, and Arianna Maya Gil, 22, forged a connection three years ago over being the only girl skaters in their Bronx neighborhood. They began throwing parties together, branding themselves the Brujas — the witches. Before long, they’d formed a loose collective of young, mostly Latinas with a set of common interests: skateboarding, gender and race politics, New York City, anti-imperialism, partying, inclusivity. The stuff of Larry Clark’s dreams, if Larry Clark cared about millennial activism.

On a mild late-fall afternoon, Gil (second from left), the Brujas’ de facto mouthpiece, met up with Grullon and a third member named Nesa. They were the only girls in the crowded park, but they didn’t stand out unless you looked closely at Gil’s baggy sweatshirt. ­Covered in yellow cursive lettering, it read: PROTECT YA PUSS.

Grullon, who studies photography at La Guardia Community College in Queens, noticed the slogan for the first time. “Where’d you get that shirt?” she asked.

Gil glanced down and straightened the fabric to show off the full text. “It’s made by this ill underwear company that fucks with us,” she explained. “They came to our party.” (The Brujas occasionally host parties called Sucia, which roughly translates to “dirty girl.”)

Now that the word is getting out about the Brujas, the girls are trying to figure out a way to earn money from the project.

“It’s increasingly hard to say what Brujas is, but a lot of women identify with it,” Gil said. “I want it to keep being furthered as an art concept, for sure.”

“We’re trying to get merch,” Grullon added. “Brujas shirts and stuff like that, so we can sell it.”

“One thing I was thinking — we should sell a weed line,” Gil suggested. “That’s, like, mad profitable.”

Gil touched the front of her PROTECT YA PUSS sweatshirt. “This lady wanted to collab with us. I don’t know, maybe we could have our own underwear with them,” she said, her voice blooming with enthusiasm. “That would be fuego.

*This article appears in the December 14, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.