RUBEN “RUFFI” RANGEL GONZALES, 28
Vice: So you’re like a total skinhead there. How long have you been in the boots and braces?
Ruffi: Since 1999. The first time I saw a skinhead was when I was 15 years old. I went to Monterrey to see the Argentinian band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and there were like 15 skinheads on the stage. They were older, maybe 26 or 27. The bass player and the lead singer of the band had brought them onstage while they were playing the Clash’s “Guns of Brixton.” I was shocked by the way they looked.
And that got you wanting to be one of them?
Yeah. The aesthetics and the aggressiveness, all linked up to ska music, which I liked so much since I was a kid, made me start to do research on my own until I became one.
Are you racist?
Not even a little bit?
Not even a little bit.
Are skinheads violent?
Violence is just something that is part of being a teenager. In high school, when you are part of a big group, you can lose your individuality and this makes you do…
Not stupid things… It’s a way to have fun. For the skinhead, violence is a way to have fun.
What sort of skin do you consider yourself?
We are “traditionals.” We focus on reggae and soul music, and we like to get together with our friends and drink beer. And yes, we get in some fights, but it doesn’t have anything to do with fighting hippies, homosexuals, or any other social group.
Well, like, why fight at all, man?
We just get excited very easily, and we are not the kind of people that run from a fight. We celebrate it, and fight with whoever we have to fight.
Do you have a skinhead code of ethics that you have to obey or something? A lot of skins that we’ve known have more rules than the army.
I don’t have an ideology. Some people relate the scene with the right or left wing, but the essence of the movement is nonpolitical. The most important things are love for music, friendship, respect, and honesty. Those are our principal values. It doesn’t have anything to do with politics.
That isn’t the way it is for skinheads in the rest of the world at all, really, both for good and for bad, but OK. If you just want to be about the music, go for it. But what about your personal politics. Got any?
I consider myself a leftist, but not a communist or an anarchist. There are skinhead groups in Mexico that are very involved in politics like the SHARPs [Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice] and RASH [Red & Anarchist Skinheads]. There are also ultraright groups, but we don’t consider them skins.
Do you personally have enemies?
I have had problems with some other skins because I don’t participate in politics. Some collectives in Guadalajara and Jalisco say that if you aren’t a communist, then you may as well be a Nazi. And then all the Nazis say that I am a communist.
But I’m still a skinhead after nine years because of the music. Reggae, rocksteady, northern soul… I’m so passionate about it all that I have been publishing a fanzine for ten years now. I started before I was a skin. I also play in a band that does music for skinheads, I have done radio programs about skin themes, and I throw a big party every year, for six years now, called Put on Your Dancing Shoes, where we play old records. Skins come from all over the country.
What’s the difference between a Mexican skinhead and skins from other countries?
The main characteristic of a Mexican skinhead is his lack of money. If you want to dress in Ben Sherman, Fred Perry, and Dr. Martens even if your salary won’t let you—or if you want to buy expensive music from Trojan Records—you have to make a real effort to do it.
Oh, and here the girls are not as beautiful as in Europe, but they still dress like skinhead girls.
Come on, the girls look cute to us.
ESTEFANIA “FANNY” HERNANDEZ ESTRADA, 18
Vice: Why did you become a skinhead?
Fanny: Because of the music. I was introduced to ska fusion by my cousins, starting with Mexican bands like Salon Victoria and Sekta Core. After that I started listening to the Skatalites and my whole world changed.
Are skinheads racists?
A lot of people think we are Nazis, but that’s a total contradiction. We like black music. How can we be Nazis? I even had a problem in my school because two kids from my class asked me if I hated black people or homosexuals.
JOHANNA CABAÑAS, 22
Vice: Why did you become a skinhead?
Johanna: Six years ago, when I was 16, I met my first skin friend. This was in Guadalajara. There, being a skinhead is more focused on politics. I joined RASH and I started listening to Jamaican music.
Do you like to get into a bit of a scrap now and then?
Being violent is part of being a skinhead. I don’t like fighting that much, but I’ll face people down when there are rumors going around or something. I’m hardcore. I cut my hair with a razor blade, I don’t do any variations on the clothing, and I have skinhead tattoos.
OK, OK. Geez.
ARACELI GALICIA MORALES, 22
Vice: What kind of skinhead are you?
Araceli: Reggae 69!
Ah, traditional all the way. And why did you become a skinhead?
I used to be a rudegirl. I first heard ska because of my older brother. But then I felt a closer connection with the skinheads because they were from the working class—and of course because of the music, the clothing, and the style!
CHEMA SKANDAL, 27
Vice: How did you become a skin?
Chema: It was because of a fanzine from Madrid. At first I didn’t know about the relationship between skins and reggae and ska, so I started to learn more by sending letters to people involved in the movement around the world.
Was there one particular song that made you want to be a skin?
“Ghost Town” by the Specials. It talks about Coventry and how there are no jobs, the youth are fighting, and their only choice is to remember the good times.
So why did you become a skinhead? Just because you liked ska?
Mainly because of the fashion and the music. But also because I identified with the the lyrics—the desire to have a future.
And was it also about being against racism?
This is interesting. We are in a country where racism is very different from racism in the Europe or the US. When you don’t have black or white, it’s more about classism than racism.
But every time I ask a skinhead here who their enemies are, they say it’s the Nazis. How can a Nazi be Mexican? There is zero logic to that.
I know! Nevertheless, Mexican Nazis exist. We call them morenazis! [A pun on the word moreno, which means “brown-skinned person.”]
And what the hell do they fight against?
Against the rich kids who believe that they are descended from the Spaniards—from Franco.
Wait, morenazis believe in Aztec supremacy?
Yes! They worship the flag. They think they are indigenous people.