Meet Rachel Figueroa-Levin, the Soap-Making, Jewryican Stay-at-Home Mom Behind Twitter’s ElBloombito

 Meet Rachel Figueroa Levin, the Soap Making, Jewryican Stay at Home Mom Behind Twitters ElBloombito

Hola Newo Yorko! El stormo grande is mucho dangeroso!

A few thousand people on Twitter can’t be wrong: The best thing about Hurricane Irene was the appearance among them of @ElBloombito, a sardonic, Spanglish-speaking caricature of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his earnest attempts at becoming fluent in Spanish. (This is actually a typical occurrence at pretty much every press conference, but how many people watch mayoral press conferences on a regular basis?)

The Observer reached out to Rachel Figueroa-Levin, the 25-year-old native New Yorker behind the Twitter feed—she put her main feed in El Bloombito’s bio, never expecting either would become viral smashes—to find out who she was where she got this crazy idea.

Update I: Mayor Bloomberg Responds to El Bloombito >>

Update II: Rachel Figueroa-Levin Responds to Mayor Bloomberg Responding to El Bloombito >>

Like most things on Twitter, it started out as a joke. In an email, she told us, “I live in Inwood with my husband and nine-and-a-half-month-old daughter. I’m a stay-at-home mom and soap maker. We are in the process of buying a co-op in Inwood. (We close early September!) Soap making started as a hobby and turned into a mini business.” What follows is an interview conducted this evening on GChat. (What, you thought we would do a phone interview with an Internet star?)

The Observer: Evening

Rachel: Hi!

The Observer: Where to begin. Are you dry? Is the baby O.K.?

Rachel: We are dry and the baby is doing well. Our dog probably suffered the most because his walk schedule is all messed up. The baby actually stood up for the first time yesterday!

The Observer: Wow. Mazel tov. Think it was weather related?

Rachel: Perhaps. My husband and I were spending so much time trying to prepare for the hurricane that maybe she stood up to get some attention.

The Observer: So, tell your probably well-into-five-figures-by-Monday-morning fans how El Bloombito came about.

Rachel: It started late last night as a joke between my Twitter friends and I. After his unfortunate Spanish attempt at that press briefing I started calling him “El Bloombito.” The twitter account was me trying to take that joke a little farther.

I didn’t think it would take off the way it did!

Clear Skies for 9/11 Memorial: Hurricane Irene Actually Helped Ground Zero >>

The Observer: Why do you think that is? As my editor put it, you’re way better than “the incredibly un-funny @hurricaneirene twitter.”

Rachel: Am I? I don’t follow that twitter so I don’t know. I’m still in shock that so many people are following an account I created to entertain maybe 15 people.

The Observer: Do you think you touched a nerve? There seems to be a certain amount of ambivalence toward the administration’s response—sure, nobody died, but was it overblown?—or is there something else going on here?

Rachel: I think the Bloomberg administration handled everything very well. It’s much better to prepare too much than to not prepare enough. My grandmother lives in an assisted living home in Sheepshead Bay. She was evacuated and is staying with my mother until the flood waters recede. What if she wasn’t evacuated? She would be in a terrible situation.

All of the city agencies responded amazingly. My dad is the director of the NYPD Photo Unit (Hi, dad!) and has been at headquarters since last night—and won’t be returning home until tomorrow night. The dedication and work ethic of everyone involved is inspiring.

I think El Bloombito struck a nerve because Mayor Bloomberg’s Spanish is… well… laughable. I think that if he really wanted to get a message across to the Latino community he should have stepped aside and had someone who speaks Spanish fluently deliver the message.

The Observer: But isn’t that the thing. Most mayors would never go this far out of their way, would they? I believe the mayor is fairly proud of his Spanish, in fact. To wit: Is it better to have misspoken than to never have spoken at all?

Rachel: I think it’s great that he wants to speak Spanish. I also think that in a situation like this, he perhaps should have let someone else do the talking. His Spanish is funny. It gave me a laugh—which I needed being stuck in an apartment with a fussy baby.

The Observer: So where does El Bloombito come from?

Rachel: The name just sort of popped into my head. I’m a huge NY1 junkie and I’m a big fan of Inside CIty Hall. I sort of pictured Gerson Borrero saying “El Bloombito” the way he calls Mayor Bloomberg “Miguelito”

On Wettest Night of the Year, at Least One Spot Parties On >>

The Observer: Are there other inspirations?

Rachel: There are probably tons of other inspirations in my subconscience that I’m not aware of. I was picturing Adam Sandler’s Operaman when I tweeted “No looto el bodega. Esta es Nuevo Yorko!” I was singing it in my head.

The Observer: Yes! That was my boss’ favorite! I think mine was “Los cans del treasho por favor to turn them back overo. Gracias.” Because that was such a funny detail, I remember him telling everyone not to yesterday, and now it’s O.K. Like they really thought of everything this time.

Rachel: And I turned the corner trash can back over.


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  2. J Thiem says:

    Hay que aprender español – si latinoamericanos y otros  hispanohablantes puedan aprender como hablar inglés con fluedez, el alcante pueda aprender como articular las palabras correctamente. !Enseñlale! Todo el mundo pueda aprender lenguas segundas – incluso el angloparlante.

    He needs to speak Spanish. If Latin Americans and other Spanish-speaking individuals can learn to speak English fluently, the mayor can learn how to articulate the words correctly. Teach him! Everyone can learn to speak a second language, including English speakers.

    Jan Thiem

    1. josedelnose says:

      Your Spanish is horrible. 

    2. Sam says:

      Why would he “need” to speak spanish in America?  Why not also speak Arabic, Indian, Korean, German, etc…

      We don’t go into other people’s countries demanding to speak the English language.  If you want spanish speaking people, go South America, Mexico or Puerto Rico.  There’s plenty spanish speakers there.

      1. Ralwa99 says:

        Indian isn’t a language.

      2. ric says:

        actually americans do go to other countries and expect everyone to know english..Where do you think the term “ugly American” came from..

  3. Cas_eindhoven says:

    Do people not write English anymore?  This WebSpelling and WebGrammar is really the pits.

  4. Annalinneas says:

    Ok, his accent is appalling but at least he is making an effort and can laugh at himself. I wish my (British) compatriots living in Spain would exert themselves half as much as he does – only being able to say ‘hola’ and ‘una cerveza’ after years living in the country simply isn’t good enough. 

    Anyway, El Bloombito has certainly dado me a bueno laugho….hugabrazos desde the Unitedo Kingdomo :)

  5. Lnf11 says:

    Bloomberg’s pronunciation wasn’t very good, but I think he got the message across, and he deserves some credit for the effort.
    Where does the “Jew” part become relevant? I wonder whether some New York Jews who bring things like that up can pronounce, much less speak, Hebrew or Yiddish or Ladino properly.

  6. Drumhead36 says:

    Well at least he tried.
    When are the Spanish people going to try to speak English?

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think the point is he is trying to learn. This Rachel person and people like her are the reason other Mayors don’t learn Spanish because jerkoffs like her will make fun of it. I think she should be ashamed of herself. That’s terible behavior to teach children and I hope her child doesn’t grow up to be so ungrateful. This person’s grandmother was evacuated safely and all se can do is make fun of someone?  Sure it’s humorous, but it’s also mean spirited and pointless. I’ll bet this person has NEVER volunteered to teach English or Spanish to anyone that needs it. Just a person who complains and makes fun – but adds no value herself.

    1. La Coquito says:

      Have you EVER volunteered to teach English or Spanish? If anything she praised Mayor Bloomberg’s effort to keep us New Yorkers safe.  However, it is true what she mentioned that at a critical time he should had someone fluent in Spanish or any other language that he is not fluent do the translation so that his instructions are completely understood.  Besides, it was just for fun between her and her friends.  You need to lighten up a little my fedup friend. Mentioning her child from your part goes a little too far.  Besides my friend, what value do you add to yourself acting so uptight?

      1. Anonymous says:

        You must be a friend of hers. What she did was just make fun of someone for no reason. The Mayor got his message across. If she would have preferred a more professional Spanish speaker, She should have written the Mayors office instead of starting a ridiculous Twitter account. She is just a complainer, not someone that actually did anything to make a difference. She probably did it to sell more soap.  If she had wanted to keep it private, she could have had her posts protected on Twitter. I think she is a self-serving person who is mean spirited, and no I don’t think those are good qualities to pass on. 

        I do volunteer extensively in my community with at risk kids and kids with disabilities. I would not start a Twitter account to make fun of the Mayor’s policies in those areas. I believe in taking action and not just talking about something. And certainly not just tweeting about it. If you aren’t part of the solution – you are part of the problem.

      2. La Coquito says:

        That is so great that you volunteer extensively in your community!!! Its great to know that there is people out there that really cares for others and their community.  That said, I still feel that YOU should lighten up a little my friend.  As you said you help children; therefore, your attitude should be a happy one no matter what… because happiness is what these children that you say you volunteer to help need.  People needs these kind of stuff sometimes to laugh and forget about their problems and conditions. Yet, you are right about making fun of people is not right; however, I still think that “soap maker’s” intentions was not to ridicule Mayor Bloomberg but to try to make people feel a little less nervous in a funny way. Besides am sure that if there is a next time in which translation is necessary Mayor Bloomberg will definitely get a real translator or really work hard to get the message across the right way. So critic is not bad at all, from it we all learn and win.  Live, Laugh and Love and you will definitely transmit that energy to others, only then you can say that you did your volunteer job the right way because that positive attitude is what you would transmit to others.  The name you use is fedup, great name for someone that wants to make a difference.  The name alone transmits anger and negative energy. See, even the Mayor had a kick out of all this, he laughed and joked about it, that is one of the reasons I would had voted for him  if he had the chance to run another term because that is the attitude we all should learn from and he is in deed a great Mayor if not the best one. 

  8. erinnyc says:

    Rachel left her last apartment in such a state of filth that the landlord wretched upon entering.  She is an inconsiderate, sue happy, ho bag. And she will gladly eat bacon while not in the company of her observant buddies.