Michelle Cruz Gonzales played drums and wrote lyrics in the influential 1990s female hardcore band Spitboy, and now she’s written a book—a punk rock herstory. Though not a riot grrl band, Spitboy blazed trails for women musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, but it wasn’t easy. Misogyny, sexism, abusive fans, class and color blindness, and all-out racism were foes, especially for Gonzales, a Xicana and the only person of color in the band.
Unlike touring rock bands before them, the unapologetically feminist Spitboy preferred Scrabble games between shows rather than sex and drugs, and they were not the angry manhaters that many expected them to be. Serious about women’s issues and being the band that they themselves wanted to hear, a band that rocked as hard as men but sounded like women, Spitboy released several records and toured internationally. The memoir details these travels while chronicling Spitboy’s successes and failures, and for Gonzales, discovering her own identity along the way.
Fully illustrated with rare photos and flyers from the punk rock underground, this fast-paced, first-person recollection is populated by scenesters and musical allies from the time including Econochrist, Paxston Quiggly, Neurosis, Los Crudos, Aaron Cometbus, Pete the Roadie, Green Day, Fugazi, and Kamala and the Karnivores.
“The Spitboy Rule is a compelling and insightful journey into the world of ’90s punk as seen through the eyes of a Xicana drummer who goes by the nickname Todd. Todd stirs the pot by insisting that she plays hardcore punk, not Riot Grrrl music, and inviting males to share the dance floor with women in a respectful way. This drummer never misses a beat. Read it!”
—Alice Bag, singer for the Bags, author of Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story
“Best punk memoir that I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. In a punk scene dominated by middle-class, white males, you can’t forget Spitboy, four brave women playing music with the intensity of an out-of-control forest fire. Gonzales’s involvement and presence in the punk scene, in particular, was significant because she represented a radical, feminist person of color, and she reflected a positive change in the scene for the Bay Area. Her memoir, chronicling her unique experience and perspective, occupies an important moment in the punk saga. This is a must-read for anyone still dedicated to social justice and change.”
—Wendy-O Matik, author of Redefining Our Relationships: Guidelines for Responsible Open Relationships
“Incisive and inspiring, Michelle Cruz Gonzales’s The Spitboy Rule brings the ’90s punk world to life with equal parts heart and realism. Her story becomes a voyage of self-discovery, and Gonzales is the perfect guide—as she writes in rapidfire drum beats about epic road tours, female camaraderie, sexist fans, and getting accused of appropriating her own culture.”
—Ariel Gore, Hip Mama
“Michelle Gonzales’s punk rock account is inspiring on many levels. For outsider artists, women musicians, or anybody who has ever felt the desire to forge an identity in uncharted territory, this book is detailed, heartfelt, and historically important. Briskly told in clean, conversational prose, The Spitboy Rule is an entertaining read and functions as an important historical, critical, and sociopolitical document of pre-internet DIY music.”
—Jesse Michaels, vocalist for Operation Ivy and author of Whispering Bodies
About the Authors:
Michelle Cruz Gonzales played drums and wrote lyrics for three bands during the 1980s and 1990s: Bitch Fight, Spitboy, and Instant Girl. Her writing has been published in anthologies, literary journals, and Hip Mama magazine. Michelle teaches English and creative writing at Las Positas College, and lives with her husband, son, and their three Mexican dogs in Oakland, California.
Martín Sorrondeguy was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, raised in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, and has called San Francisco home for the last ten years. The core of Sorrondeguy’s work is about addressing inequities through the creation of physical and artistic space—first as the singer of the internationally renowned politically charged punk en Español hardcore band Los Crudos. For the last fifteen years, Sorrondeguy has been the singer of the openly queer punk band Limp Wrist. He recently completed his third photography book, En Busca De Algo Mas(Ugly Records, Buenos Aires).
Mimi Thi Nguyen is associate professor of gender and women’s studies and Asian American studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is the author of The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages (Duke University Press, 2012) and has also published in Signs, Camera Obscura, Women & Performance, positions, and Radical History Review. Nguyen has made zines since 1991, including Slander and Race Riot. She is a former Punk Planet columnist and Maximumrocknroll volunteer. She toured with other zine makers of color in 2012 and 2013, and continues to organize events and shows with and for POC punks.