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L.A. punks rally for Go Betty Go in guitarist’s fight against cancer at weekend benefit show

Four women stand in front of buildings.
Go Betty Go.
(Rudi Tcruz)

It’s been 20 years since the L.A-based band Go Betty Go hit the music scene hard with its unique brand of Chicana pop punk.

The acclaimed female group has toured North America and Europe, appeared on several Warped Tours, released the 2005 album “Nothing Is More” and the 2015 EP “Reboot” and inspired younger women to pick up instruments and start bands.

Now, the bedrock of the group, guitarist and songwriter Betty Cisneros, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

“It was around April, when she went to the doctor and got diagnosed,” said the band’s drummer, Aixa Vilar. “Obviously for Betty, her family and all of us in Go Betty Go, it was just devastating to hear. We all knew that she hadn’t been feeling herself for a few months, and we all know Betty is a bit stubborn but strong as hell.”

Vilar said family and friends insisted that Cisneros go to a doctor and get checked out. “It was definitely a shock to learn how advanced it was, but these days, cancer is not a death sentence,” Vilar said. “And, at least we know what it is, and she’s getting the best treatment, so we’re all being optimistic. She’s doing what she needs to do to get better and that’s our main focus.”

To help Cisneros focus on her recovery, her bandmates — Vilar, vocalist Niclolette Vilar and bassist Michelle Rangel — have set up a GoFundMe, which has raised more than $44,000 toward her medical bills.

They’ve also planned a benefit show — Fight Betty Fight — at the Paramount in L.A. on July 3. The show will feature Go Betty Go, with Two Tens guitarist Adam Bones filling in for Cisneros, along with Johnny Madcap and the Distractions, and a special acoustic set by Linh Le and Jennie Cotterill of Bad Cop/Bad Cop, as well as special guest Emily Valentine. One of Go Betty Go’s early contemporaries, the Dollyrots, will also take the stage.

“I’m so happy all of our friends will be playing this benefit with us. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to help Betty’s medical costs,” Aixa Vilar said. “The event will also be streamed live on YouTube for those who can’t attend, along with a link to the GoFundMe.”

Vilar said that before Cisneros was diagnosed, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Go Betty Go was working on new music.

“With the pandemic and now these health issues, it put new music on the back burner, but we did have a new EP we were working on, and while we were in the studio is when Betty got diagnosed,” Vilar said. “It all depends when Betty’s well enough, when we will continue. The difficult thing about Betty’s chemo is that it makes it difficult to play guitar, since one of the side effects is her fingertips become painful and numb.”

As bandmates, family, friends and musicians all offer well wishes and prayers for her recovery, Cisneros knows how much love and support she’s getting, Vilar said, adding that it makes a difference.

“All the love and messages we’ve gotten for Betty has been amazing. Betty might not respond to all the messages, posts and emails, but she reads them all; it brings her spirit up and makes her happy,” Vilar said. “She told us that it gives her positivity, optimism and hope and brightens her days. Especially when she has bad days, it’s crucial.”

Vilar said that although Betty is struggling, she’s a fighter, and she wants to let people know there is hope. “All the fans, friends, bands and family supporting her make a difference. She knows she’s not alone,” Vilar said.

Despite the difficult road ahead for Cisneros, the band has been there for her and each other. “We’ve all been extremely bonded and united, it’s a sisterhood,” Vilar said.


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