Crash Crash Craft: An interview with Bonnie Rue of “Model Citizen”

Crafts for Drummers, Drummers for Crafts. Crash Crash Craft is a new series in Tom Tom Magazine that features spectacular crafts made by, for, and/or about female drummers. Enjoy!

Full name: Bonnie Ruth McManners
Nickname/pseudonym: Bonnie Rue
Where were you born: Dallas, TX
Where do you live now: Austin, TX
Musical instrument?: guitar, tambourine, ukulele, anything you can beat on
Day job: Booking Agent for local bands
Crafts: screen printing, knitting, jewelry making, stitching & sometimes sculpting

Bonnie Rue makes me aspire to be a model citizen. No, I don’t mean she makes me want to stop partying and take up ringing bells on street corners.  This 26 year old, Austin, TX based pop artist, band manager and booker runs Model Citizen Clothing, a line of T-shirts, dresses, hoodies, yoga wear, jewelry, accessories and more emblazoned with edgy, punk-y, empowering, and delightfully brash designs all inspired by her friends who actually are Model Citizens, claims Bonnie. “Tough, talented and ready to take on the world, they are a seriously love-able bunch. ” They must also be seriously awesome to inspire looks like these!

Tom Tom Magazine: So, who is the tough and talented lady behind the Beauty and the Beat shirt?

Bonnie Rue: This particular design was inspired by a lot of different things & not a particular person… starting with being the only girl in my 6th grade band class who played drums… to the Christmas that I asked for a drum set and got a white fender stratocaster instead… to watching The Muppets and wishing like hell that Animal had been a girl! The real inspiration is that I just don’t see THAT MANY female drummers. Which is why I’m head over heels for Tom Tom Magazine & crazy flattered to be interviewed by you!

Tom Tom Magazine: The pleasure is mine! Who are some of your other most inspiring friends, and in what way have they inspired your designs?

Bonnie Rue: My best friend Kym inspired the Scoot! T-shirt. From the moment I met her she wanted a scooter & now she has 2! Kym is so dedicated, riding in the rain & the snow – braver than I. She’s like the United states postal service!  She often scoots over to my place bringing me cookies & rad crafty gifts. She’s the best.

BR: The Bake & Destroy T-shirt came into reality when I got to know Mrs. Natalie Slater & her amazing baking blog Bake & Destroy. This is one of my favorite T’s and it’s in it’s last printing right now – a major bonus to this shirt is that it comes with a one of a kind cupcake recipe dreamed up by Natalie. It’s a Nacho Cupcake & it’s delicious – you just can’t get that everywhere.

TTM: Can you tell us more about your life in music?

BR: During the day I work with two dudes in a small office space booking bands all over the country – at clubs, festivals & private events like weddings and mile marker birthday parties. It’s a challenge and I like a challenge. I recently picked up a new band at work called The Jungle Rockers. If you are a fan of the Clash or Buddy Holly or even The Cramps then you would like this band. The music doesn’t stop there though. At home my boyfriend records out of our house & tours a lot with his band LIONS. No, I don’t book their band, but I lend a helping hand whenever possible. I’ve managed the Baptist Generals for a few years now – who I LOVE – They’ll be putting out their second album on SubPop this year. I’m pretty sad to say that I’ve never worked with a girl band… I think it may be a sign that I need to start one!

TTM: Do it! What came first for you? Art or music?

BR: This is a case of ‘everything hits at once’. Growing up my Dad worked for MCA Records doing Radio promotion AND he was also a bad ass drummer. He traveled all over the place with bands like The Who, The Ramones, Tom Petty.. and even pop sensations like Tiffany (who was actually my babysitter at one point). So the house was filled with music. At school I was that kid that skipped all her other classes to hang out in the art room with a purse full of mix tapes to keep me inspired.

TTM: Whoa. Tiffany was your babysitter?!! Before or after “I think we’re alone now?”

BR: Just before she stuck it big and hit the road for her mall tours (laughing).

TTM: What’s your favorite thing about living in Austin?

BR: I could never have a favorite thing. It’s awesome on so many levels. If you find yourself feeling bored in Austin TX that means you are simply not trying. Every night of the week there’s a ton of bands playing or a dance party or an art opening. Then when I start to feel like a vampire from hanging out in clubs & bars all the time I can go swimming in Barton Springs, which is a natural public pool – 3 acres in size, fed by an underground spring. It makes summers here not only bearable, but bad ass! On top of that – you could live solely on breakfast tacos here and that could never be a bad thing.

TTM: I’ve never had a breakfast taco! My life feels slightly incomplete now.  Are you originally from this magical land of breakfast tacos?

BR: I’m originally from Dallas. Land of big hair & concrete. I moved to Austin when I was 18 after a short stint living in Olympia WA where I worked as a phone psychic and met the love of my life. We moved to Austin for the music and to be close to our families. It’s served us well for 10 years now.

TTM: Did you meet the love of your life on the phone, while reading his future? Were you like, (insert spooky gypsy fortune-teller voice) “Yooou’ll meet the loooove of yooour life…on the phone! Hey, wanna go out?”

BR: We did not meet on the phone – I am proud to say that I never had a serious relationship with anyone who ever turned up on the other end of the phone line. Austin (my manfriend) actually trained me when I was hired. I sat down next to him, strapped on my headset & it was love at first sight!

TTM: Wow, that is a lot of “Austin” love you’ve got! Speaking of  love, you seem to have a lot of love for the tigers too. What’s the deal?

BR: Tigers are one of the fiercest and most lovely predators the world has to offer AND they are close to extinction. So with Model Citizen I’m trying to keep their tiger style alive and roaring.

TTM: Do you have any favorite lady drummers?

BR: I do I do! I gotta represent Austin right? So my local pick is Erica Barton from the Faceless Werewolves. Outside of this little bubble I also love Kristin Gundred from Grand Ole Party – she can sing while never missing a beat & I think her choices on the drums are really interesting. On top of that I’m a huge fan of Lindy McIntyre from The Trucks Stephanie Luke of The Coathangers fame. (Read Tom Tom Magazine’s exclusive interview with Stephanie here)

TTM: If you were exiled to a desert island and could only take one band and 3 items, which band (living, done or dead) and what items?

BR: Whoa! This is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked in an interview! I’m not going to over think it. Off the top of my head, I’ll go with Blondie. That band covered so many styles including reggae which would be nice on an island.. 1st item… My favorite soup pot for cooking – because I LOVE to cook. 2nd… A big floppy hat because I can get a crispy sun burn faster than you can say ‘tom tom’ and 3rd… a boat! I’d hate to be trapped anywhere – even with Debbie Harry!

TTM: Ha! Well I’m so happy that I checked out your blog, Good Girls and Geeks, for your Butternut Squash & Cinnamon Muffins with Bananas AND Zucchini recipe, and getting introduced to Miss Muffy & The Muff Mob. Which Muff Mob member do you relate to most, and why?

BR: (laughing) I’m so glad you enjoyed that post. I hadn’t been planning on blogging about muffins since I don’t really write about food all that often. Geez, which of the Muff Mob am I?… Ya know – I’d have to say Miss Muffy herself. It seems to me that she’s always wrangling the other girls together and trying to keep the peace (while droppin some fat rhymes and dope beats) and I feel like I do a lot of that in my life… or maybe I’m just bossy!

TTM: Ok, up on that soapbox bossypants! Why should Tom Tom readers come to your site to buy your creations?

BR: Simply put – Model Citizen is made for girls like you! Ladies who dare to be different, give a damn about each other, want to make a splash, a difference & have ALL of the fun while they do it!

TTM: Awesome, thanks Bonnie!

Yo listen up! Tom Tom readers get a 15% discount off Model Citizen gear! Just enter TOMTOM in the “notes to seller” section when you check out here:

Interview by: Leslie Henkel. Leslie curates the “Crash-Crash-Craft!” series, mostly because she is nosy and likes crafts/crafty people.  This is also why she is a member of “Bags For The People,” a rad non-profit that hosts bag-sewing workshops all over New York City (and now in Jamaica!), hates Garbage Island, reads your diary when you’re away, and sometimes sews drumstick bags at Tom Tom events just for fun. Leslie also writes the Tight Pantsy Drew Mysteries, serialized cozy mystery zine set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, starring hipsters, anarchist freegans, “Chad P.”, and super-sleuth Tight Pantsy Drew–who also editorializes over at A Mutual!

Photos: courtesy of Bonnie Rue

Psst! Are you Crash-Craft-Crafty? Submit an image/description of your work, plus a bio to, and you might be featured…possibly famous. Who knows?

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  1. Great interview! Ms. Bonnie always has interesting stuff to say. I have many t-shirts and jewelry designed by her and trust me, they are even more awesome looking in person!

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