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note: In the fall of 1991, shortly before they launched a
tour to support Break Like the Wind, Spinal Tap named 28-year-old
Bonnie Rose as president of its official fan club. Tap's manager,
Harriet Sternberg, asked Bonnie to create a club newsletter called
Painful Procedure. The first
issue appeared in May 1992, but Tap let the club die a quiet
death and Bonnie sank into obscurity. SpinalTapFan.com tracked
How did you hook up with Tap?
I have been a Tap fanatic ever since I first saw the documentary
You mean rockumentary.
Right. When they had auditions for a drummer on Halloween
1991 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, I went with a friend to glimpse
the legends in person. There were 20 spectators in that yawning
span of 90,000+ empty seats. As we looked down on the three rock
gods holding auditions, something inside me stirred. You'll see,
I quietly told them, someday I will be part of your world. Fortunately
I had a connection: my earlier work with a Monkees fanzine called
Monkees West had led to a friendship with rock photographer
I called and asked if he knew anyone associated with Tap. He
said he knew their manager, Harriet Sternberg, and that she had
just hired him to be Tap's official photographer!
So you called Harriet?
I asked if there would be an official fan club. She said
yes, so I ran home and put together a mockup of the newsletter
and wrote her this drippy letter. About a week later she asked
me to come into the office. Her office would have boring
except for the Tap crap all over the place. They were sending
out the promo material for the album, and I saw a stack of Break
Like the Wind 8-tracks. The label on one of them was peeling
off and I could see it was in fact an early Olivia Newton-John
tape. I guess they knew no one would listen to it, so why make
Did you discuss the fan club?
Harriet mostly gushed on about the exciting plans the band
had for its return. At the end of the conversation she said "Well,
I guess we have a new club president." I waited until I
was back on the freeway before I screamed my head off.
When did you first meet the boys?
Harriet invited me to a sound stage where the band was filming
the video for Bitch School. The first thing I saw
were video sluts. Henry was there, and Harriet greeted me cheerfully.
Suddenly David St. Hubbins walked by. Harriet grabbed him and
said, "David, you walked by the most important person here!
This is Bonnie Rose, the president of your fan club." David
smiled and grasped my hand and says, "Oh, I'm so glad to
meet you," It was surreal. I never in my life expected to
meet David St. Hubbins. It was like meeting Bugs Bunny or James
What happened next?
Derek came by wearing a leather jacket that had black-velvet-painting-quality
naked ladies on it. He said it was an honor to meet me! Then
he slipped off to the can. Finally, Harriet introduced me to
Nigel. He looked into my eyes, slowly shook my hand and said,
"Bonnie Rose." Nigel is overwhelmingly scary. He never
smiles, he just chews that gum and stares at you and you can
feel your soul undergoing subtle yet unhealthy change.
It was the first and last time the band seemed
to take any interest in the fan club. Later, when I was putting
together the newsletter, Harriet wouldn't let me talk to them
about anything. It was baffling.
They're rock stars. Busy.
That's how I tried to justify it, but it was frustrating.
Whenever I had a question, I would call Harriet and then she
would call the boys and get an answer. I filled in a lot of holes
in their history that way.
Where else did you get material?
Harriet had boxes of Tap stuff. Her Xerox machine became
my best friend.
Were you paid for your work?
No, but I did steal a lot of Tap picture discs, publicity
items, sensitive personal documents, that sort of thing.
How many copies of the newsletter were distributed?
I'm not sure. It was printed and sent out by a hack fan club
processing company. I sent my finished product to Harriet but
then never heard anything back. Her assistant later told me that
Harriet hadn't made any changes. She said that was the highest
compliment Harriet could have given me.
The newsletter is brilliant. It captures Tap in the moment.
Thank you! I worked hard on it.
Did you have any other duties as fan club president?
No, but I did get to go to concerts for free and be a wallflower
at the backstage parties.
Did you know you are listed in the credits of The Return of Spinal
I didn't! That's cool. I'm also in the liner notes of Break
Like the Wind. When I saw that I wept.
Had you started putting issue 2 together?
I was going to publish six a year. When I told them the second
one was almost done, Harriet said they didn't want to do it anymore.
Do you still still have that issue?
It's in pieces in a box somewhere. I can probably find it.
[She did! Here's a selection, and
Had you ever met any members of Tap before becoming the
When I was a teenager I hung out with members of Sanctuary,
the L.A. church for heavy-metal Jesus freaks. We went to this
gig by a Christian metal band called Lambsblood. I thought the
bassist looked familiar. Later I realized it was Derek Smalls.
Someone's home video of that concert appears on The Return of
Spinal Tap. If you look closely you can almost see me raising
my arms to Derek and saying "Thank you Jesus!"
What are your general impressions now of Tap?
At first I was bitter. Now I realize that I was to them what
the guy picking up trash on the side of the freeway is to me:
I never say to him, "Thank you for making our freeways litter-free,
let's go down to the pub and engage in warm fellowship!"
Still, that guy can toss off his orange vest at the end of the
day knowing that he made a difference. I tossed off my presidential
robes knowing that for a few glorious months, I helped keep Tap
litter-free. It's a good feeling.