*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.
On July 15th 1997, Gianni Versace was shot and killed outside of his Miami Beach mansion by spree killer Andrew Cunanan. It was unclear if Versace knew his attacker or what the motive was. Interestingly, a reporter for Vanity Fair named Maureen Orth had been following a string of murders and doing her own independent investigation into Andrew Cunanan when she got the news that Gianni Versace had been murdered, and the suspect was the very same person she had already been looking into.
So Maureen Orth put her research into a book called Vulgar Favors, which is my main source for this. Just so you know, there are *some* people who bash Maureen Orth and don’t believe her, but I will note that I found a pattern among the people who bash her; these people tend to be Woody Allen supporters. Maureen Orth also reported on Woody Allen and lots of people didn’t like the things she said.
It’s funny, Maureen and I have that in common. When people bash my podcast and accuse me of lying, it’s usually people defending Woody Allen or R Kelly.
With that said, *I* believe Maureen Orth is a valid and reputable reporter. Sorry if you don’t but in this case, I really think she’s the best person to ask.
Also, the Ryan Murphy show American Crime Story had a season called the Assassination of Gianni Versace and it was also based on Maureen’s book. I’ve mentioned the show American Crime Story before, when we talked about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. It’s really good, they do a great job telling the stories and the casting is always amazing.
Anyway it’s like a fictional re-telling of the details described in Maureen’s book. So if you’ve seen the show, you’re probably familiar with the story but I am going to go beyond that and share some details that weren’t really elaborated on and also fact check the information that was depicted.
Also, shout out to the podcast Killer Queens who did an amazing job telling this story.
First let me tell you a little bit about Gianni Versace.
Versace was an Italian fashion designer, socialite and businessman. He was the founder of Versace, an international luxury-fashion house that produces accessories, fragrances, make-up, home furnishings and clothes. He also designed costumes for theatre and films. As a friend of Eric Clapton, Princess Diana, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Madonna, Elton John, Tupac Shakur and many other celebrities, he was one of the first designers to link fashion to the music world.
Andrew Phillip Cunanan was born on August 31st, 1969 in National City California to parents Modesto “Pete” Dungao Cunanan, a Filipino-American, and Mary Anne Shillaci, an Italian-American.
Mary Anne was the child of immigrant parents. Her mother died when she was 19 and she moved to California to live with her brother, but she got the feeling that she wasn’t welcome there. Apparently they were really affectionate for a brother and sister and the wife became uncomfortable.
Pete was a Filipino immigrant who enlisted in the US Navy as soon as he got here. He was handsome and confident and walked with a swagger and had a booming voice. When Mary Anne saw him for the first time in a bar, her heart stopped and they danced the night away.
So they got married and had 4 children. The second child, a daughter named Elena, was blond and blue-eyed, and Pete suspected that she wasn’t his daughter. So Pete developed an attitude of total disgust towards Mary Anne and he became very abusive towards her. For sure he was verbally and emotionally abusive, and while he claims he never got physical, Mary Anne says that he has pulled her hair and struck her.
He also was a very strict disciplinarian. For example, if the kids were watching tv or playing and Pete walked in, they would automatically vacate the room so he could sit down and eat his dinner alone in front of the tv.
Mary Anne would become kind of fragile and dependent, she made sure the house was spotless per his orders, putting plastic liners on everything. She was also catholic and very strictly religious. It was said that she was kind of eccentric and would often say the first thing that popped into her head in a childlike voice.
At the same time she was kind of passive-aggressive and manipulative. Like for example, she would use sex to get Pete to buy her new furniture.
Money was a big source of tension between them. Pete seemed to find a lot of importance in social etiquette. He needed to hold a reputation as a classy, cultured, and wealthy man so he splurged on fancy things. Pete says that Mary Anne, who was a stay-at-home mom, was actually the one spending money like crazy. And she was but also, Pete had 3 bank accounts and Mary Anne only had access to one of them.
Despite their marital troubles, they had two more kids– Regina and Andrew. They purchased their first home in 1967 for $12,500 in a scruffy little town in National City.
Andrew was born in 1969 and his birth was really traumatic for Mary Anne. She lost a lot of blood and fell into a deep postpartum depression. She wasn’t able to take care of herself or the baby, so she ended up getting hospitalized for 3 months, leaving Pete to take care of newborn Andrew. Pete bonded a lot with this baby. From the beginning, he knew this baby was exceptional. Pete says that Andrew never cried, even one time when he stepped on a hot coal.
When Andrew was 3, Pete retired from the navy with a full pension and started pursuing his dream to become a stock broker. I mean his dream was really to be filthy fucking rich. He got a bachelors degree and then a masters for business administration. Around this time, Mary Anne inherited some money and considered using it to start a new life without Pete. Instead, she ended up using it to buy a bigger house with Pete cosigning. So they bought a 3 bedroom house in a nice, affluent neighborhood called La Jolla, for $96,000. This was a big step up for the family.
Mary Anne would say that Chris and Elena were different from Andrew and Gina, saying that Chris and Elena were “street kids”. They grew up differently in scruffy little National City, pinching pennies, and Andrew and Regina were born into the family when Pete was making money and now living in a nicer neighborhood, and they were given everything while Chris and Elena were not.
Still, they were not rich. But they made sure Andrew had everything the rich kids had.
Andrew was known to do really well academically. He read the bible and memorized the encyclopedia by age 10. Though he took an IQ test in 3rd grade and scored 147, his teachers didn’t think he was like spectacularly intelligent or anything. but his parents did and that was enough. He was a quiet, calm kid who would often retreat into books while the other kids played outside. A neighbor from Andrew’s childhood calls him the epitome of a mama’s boy, and recalls calling him outside to play once and when he came to the door, Mary Anne pulled him back and told him “you can’t do that”.
They had a close relationship but it was kind of odd. It was like Mary Anne and Pete were competing for Andrew’s attention. Mary Anne brags that she and Andrew were inseparable when he was a little boy, and this infuriated Pete. He would say “you cannot cling like that to your son.”
“She suffocated him by his necktie. She clung to his belt loop. It was that kind of relationship– mothering in a different way.”
Maureen Orth wrote that “[MaryAnn] was helping create a personality who began to see himself as superior, which his father encouraged.” Andrew and Pete’s relationship was odd too with “pet names” and using baby-talk well into Andrew’s teenage years.
And Pete treated Andrew like the golden child. Even his siblings would say he was the “little prince” of the family. When they moved into their 3 bedroom house, Pete actually gave Andrew the master bedroom, and made the 3 other kids share a room.
So Andrew was clearly treated superiorly to the other kids and this kind of cemented the idea in his mind that he was superior. "The one impression I got from Andrew back then is he knew something good would happen to him. He knew he would turn out better than his peers, than everyone around him," says Gary Bong, Andrew's junior-high classmate. "This sense of superiority was his defining characteristic."
Pete and Andrew had pet names for each other abd baby-talked with each other even after Andrew was well into high school.
His father also like trained him to become like cultured and eloquent and basically just know how to talk to rich people and fit in with them. He would take him out for ice cream and tutored him on labels and image. And he would offer to buy him all kinds of crap, like he would point out nice shoes or a blazer and be like “you like this? Lets get you this.” and Andrew learned quickly that his dad would buy him anything. It was like, the idea of having to “afford” something wasn’t a concept to him. He wasn’t really aware if there were any financial issues. He only knew instant gratification.
By the time Andrew was in 7th grade, he had already developed a taste for the finer things. Andrew attended a classmate’s 12th birthday party and was disappointed that there was only tap water and no Perrier. He started telling grandiose and highly embellished stories, something he also must’ve gotten from his father. Pete would often tell life stories about working for Merril Lynch in Manila, and owning a plantation, and just a lot of tall tales created to make him seem successful.
When he was 14 (a freshman in high school), he had to miss a field trip to see the opera Carmen because he was sick. He threw a tantrum so to make him feel better, Pete bought him a brand new sports car. Again, he was 14 so he didn’t have his license, and his older brother Christopher didn’t even have a car and he did have his license.
Andrew made friends with a pair of twins named Mathew and Rachel Rifat, who were intelligent and well-traveled, and he would spend many weekends at their house. He even let the Rifas meet his parents, although it was very staged. He’d greet his mom by throwing his arm up and saying “mama!” and blowing kisses. She says that he would brag about how she was better than the other mothers, who he called phonies. But nobody who knows Andrew actually believes that. “Andrew was not interested in sharing the limelight with anyone, and they [his parents] were not part of his world, really.” said Anne Rifat, the twins’ mother. “He’d come into the kitchen and talk to me. He treated MaryAnn like a child. ‘Little Mother’ he would call her.”
There was another friend Andrew had in school named Stacy Lopez, who he told about his family. He told her that his mother was “a mess” and he talked about his siblings being jealous of him. She says that he couldn’t bring himself to tell his parents that he was gay, even though he wanted the rest of the world to know it. He was known to love money and love having older men “take care of him” when he was just 16. She didn’t think he prostituted himself, but maybe just went out with guys who bought him stuff.
One time one of his sugar daddies bought him a bright red leather suit, and he flaunted it at school. It was the kind of thing nobody would dare do in that era.
He also started introducing an aspect of danger. He began bringing a gun to school, often keeping it in his car and taking it out to show people.
On his senior class ski trip, Andrew was accused of stealing money from a condo where his friends were staying. He denied it and nothing was ever proven, but people wondered.
He started regularly saying that his two favorite things were sex and taking a shit. His gestures and laughter were said to have become edgy, and his friend Mathew said that he would do things a little too aggressively, like slap him on the back or grab his arm in a way that was like jarring.
From Vulgar Favors:
Elizabeth Oglesby, a psychologist who lived next door to Andrew and befriended him, believes Andrew was a narcissist. “Narcissists look at people as objects they can consume or use. His parents were just there to serve, adore, or cater to him.” It is not unusual, according to psychotherapists who have studied narcissism, that in unhappy families the mother may choose a son to lavish her attention on and may use him almost as an emotional stand-in for the husband who has rejected her. While their loyalties are torn between their parents, they are taught that they are superior, little Prince Charmings. Yet they are not able to process such feelings of intimacy, so they end up pushing down their confused feelings of guilt, fear, or anger and eventually what’s left is a coldness and an idea that one’s image is more important than having feelings at all. The explosion comes later, when the child is unable to get his way; then the image crumbles and all the pent-up rage erupts.
By highschool, Andrew was a full on snob.
Pete, working as a stockbroker, wasn’t doing too great. He left one job after 2 years and was fired from the next after about a year, but he continued to blow through his money. He enrolled Andrew in the prestigious Bishop’s school, which was not cheap. At the time when Andrew attended Bishop’s, the annual tuition was $4,000-$6,200. Very few students received financial aid and the ones that did only got about $1,500. All this on Pete’s occasional income which never exceeded $50,000 annually. His siblings were not offered the same opportunity.
In school, Andrew liked to dress really formally. Like he would wear suits or preppy jackets/ He liked to be flashy and get noticed. He was known to speak in a loud, boisterous tone, which he probably a form of getting peoples’ attention that he learned from his father.
Andrew was a gay man and very flamboyant and fashionable at school. But he was very careful to keep his family life and his social life separate. He never invited friends over to his house and he never let his parents go to his school events. His father denies to this day that Andrew is homosexual.
He was popular because his stories were funny and colorful, and he liked to talk about fashion and celebrities so he was popular with girls. Even when his stories were clearly bullshit, he was entertaining. His classmates recalled that he was fun to watch, kind of like a disaster you can’t look away from. He was named “most likely to be remembered” in his yearbook, which is exactly what he wanted. He never really had any ambitions, he just wanted to be known for his personality and who he was rather than for… doing anything.
Anyway, he upheld this rich boy act that was so extra. Like, one time he made his mom bring lobster to his school so he could eat it for lunch (he told her it had to be there RIGHT on time, and it was). Which tells me that Andrew has also adopted a disturbing attitude towards her from Pete.
A classmate said that he stopped being friends with Andrew because he became obnoxious and materialistic and constantly put people down.
So Andrew’s keeping a lot of secrets. He’s trying to create the illusion that his life is perfect, but the reality was that he was hiding his sexuality at home, dealing with a dysfunctional family with an abusive father and unstable mother, and he’s got a ton of elaborate lies to keep up with. But his sense of superiority kept growing.
Despite the financial problems, Pete and MaryAnn mortgaged their house and rented it in order to buy a $189,000 house. It had 4 bedrooms and MaryAnn called it a mansion. Andrew was given the master bedroom, MaryAnn slept in the “maid’s room,” and Pete slept on the couch. Andrew was given his own credit card that he tapped out quickly.
By the time that Cunanan graduated high school, though, Pete was cycling through a series of jobs and reportedly shady deals to combat his growing debt. Pete was accused of embezzling money from his clients at the last job (including a 90-year-old woman) and cleaning them out. Essentially he was selling nonexistent stocks and pocketing the money. Explained American Crime Story writer Tom Rob Smith: “[Pete] committed what looked to be fraudulent trading activity. He moved down through various trading houses—smaller and smaller ones until he was finally caught. He had all of this fraud that was just circling him, and finally he runs to Manila.”
He just abandoned the family and fled. And then he sold the house they were living in without telling them. MaryAnn had nothing– she had like $700 to her name and $650 a month in Navy pension checks. He also got mad at her for keeping his navy pension money for her and the kids to survive, saying that it was supposed to go toward Andrew’s education. She’s got 2 kids in college who now had to drop out to deal with MaryAnn, whose mental health was deteriorating and was regularly threatening to commit suicide.
Afterward, Andrew flew to the Philippines and tracked down his father—where he found him living in squalor.
“When Andrew saw the crude poverty in which his father was living, a driving madness took over his mind,” one of Andrew’s teachers told Orth. He actually embellished his stories about his family in the Phillipines even more.
The experience shattered Andrew. His father had raised him to believe that status was everything, and now his father was living with nothing and left him with nothing. And Andrew’s self-worth, which is tied to his status, was obliterated.
Andrew’s friend, Liz Cote, offered to let him move in with her and her fiance in Berkley, which was basically next door to “the most liberated gay community in America,” the Castro district in San Fransisco, where he spent most of his time in gay bars. But interestingly, he wasn’t exactly “out” with Liz and her fiance, Phil. For some reason he kept his dating life private from them too.
Andrew continued continued making up elaborate stories about himself. He claimed his parents lived on 5th Avenue, and that he had been married and had a daughter (using a picture of Liz and her daughter) claiming his wife was a Jewish princess. He also used numerous aliases, like Andrew DeSilva.
He would also pretend to be jewish. One time his friend pulled out a $100 bill to pay a bartender, and Andrew snatched it out of his hand and said “this is my Chanukah present.”
In October 1990, Versace came to San Francisco with partner Antonio D’Amico to see the opera Capriccio, for which Versace had designed the costumes. The two of them were openly gay and enjoyed frequenting gay bars and hanging out with the gay community, and the whole town was abuzz when they heard they were in town. so they hit up a disco called Collosus, where Andrew Cunanan also happened to be. Maybe. Possibly. Idk, Andrew’s full of shit but some people attest that they were there so.. Hearsay.
So the *story goes* like this. Andrew had a friend named Eli who was given passes to the Collosus VIP room, and Eli invited Andrew. Andrew claimed that he had been to Italy a bunch of times and that he had actually met Versace before. This was untrue.
But then Gianni Versace saw Andrew, approached him, and said “I know you. Lago di Como, no?”
According to Maureen Orth, this was just a line that Versace used when he wanted to strike up a conversation with someone. But Andrew saw an opportunity and was like “that’s right. Thank you for remembering, Signor Versace.”
And then he told everyone the embellished story saying “and then i said, ‘if you’re gianni versace then i’m coco chanel!’”
His friend Liz and her fiance Phil also recall how Andrew jumped on their bed in the morning shouting “you’ll never believe who i went clubbing with last night!” and repeated the “coco chanel” joke.
Versace’s family denies they ever met.
In the summer of 1991, Liz and Phil decided to move to Sacramento, so Andrew had to go live with his mom again, in a 2-bedroom apartment in Rancho Bernardo and re-enrolled in the University of California San Diego. He had to get a job at a Thrifty’s drug store to make ends meet which was not something he was happy about. Living with his mom really got to him. She was pretty eccentric and she talked A LOT. She also smoked a lot and threatened suicide often. Neighbor Hal Melowitz, a psychiatric social worker who befriended Mary Ann, remembers that she was under a psychiatrist's care and had suffered several nervous breakdowns, the first at age 39, when Pete broke a chair over her.
Andrew seemed totally indifferent towards his mother. He would party for days at a time and then come home to crash, and he demanded that MaryAnn remain absolutely silent while he slept, no matter what time it was (and it was often well into the afternoon). He wouldn't allow her to go to the Thrifty Drug store where he worked, he would literally fly into a rage.
She would make him whatever he wanted to eat, even if she only had $15 and he wanted steak. He pretty much would come home, eat, do his personal stuff, go out and party. Which is sad, he's a lot like his father. He never sat down to talk to her or asked how she was feeling. And yet, whenever he would stop at home, she clung to him and would ask “well do you want to eat something? Well when are you coming back?”.
His neighbor, psychologist Elizabeth Ogelsby, says that he confided in her, although also made up a lot of stories. He didn’t tell the truth about his parents but he did tell her that he didn’t get along with his parents, and he basically rejected them.
One time in 1993, he lost his temper and slammed his mother against a wall, so hard that she fractured her shoulder and had to wear her arm in a sling. When she went to the emergency room, Andrew allegedly warned her that if she ever told anyone, he'd kill her.
Despite all the violence, MaryAnn clung to him. According to Melowitz (the neighbor), "you'd need a crowbar to pry her away from her son."
Andrew began befriending older men at the gay clubs and also reportedly making violent pornography. He was using drugs like crystal meth, and apparently crystal meth is big among the gay community, especially in San Diego in the 90’s. It was also popular among porn stars and from what I read, it can keep you thinking about sex all day long.
Andrew watched a lot of porn– but I guess this wasn’t unusual. He also tried to work as a porn star, as that was considered like an ultimate celebrity to him. In a way, it like proved that you’re attractive.
He became well-known in the gay nightlife and he basically lived off of selling drugs and letting older men take him out and spoil him. When he did have money, he would flash it and buy rounds for everyone. He was super show-offy. And he was also sooo classy and charming and educated and cultured, and attractive. So these older men just loved bringing him to events and showing him off. It was said that Andrew was also like a middle man, helping older closeted men hook up with younger men.
Among these men was Lincoln Aston who was a wealthy 60-year old architect who had once been married and had an attraction to younger men. Andrew and his friend Robbins started hanging out with a circle of prominent older gay men and going to cocktail parties and dinner with them, and some of them would catch on that Andrew couldn’t possibly have done all the things he claimed.. Like he literally couldn’t have been alive long enough to accomplish all he had claimed.
He befriended a young salesman who told Andrew where he could get a job as a male escort, so Andrew went to Florida and did just that.
Now this might be a coincidence, but this particular salesman had clients who were executives of the Home Shopping network, headquartered in St Petersburg, Florida. One of Andrew’s victims, Lee Miglin, had a wife named Marilyn who was associated with the Home Shopping Network and Lee helped her run her business in the early 90’s. It’s not known for sure if Andrew personally knew Lee Miglin or not.
MaryAnne found expensive clothes in Andrew’s closet with the tags still on and was baffled to see $700 suits and $300 shoes, when Andrew didn’t have a job. She found matchbooks from clubs and bars and she called them, and they told her straight up that they were gay clubs, but she was in absolute disbelief. And denial, she totally denies that her son was gay.
He did have legit friends though, like a little clique he hung out with. Because Andrew was the life of the party and he knew everyone. He was really popular and in any room he was in, he was the one people wanted to talk to. But those who knew him best knew that Andrew was pretty full of shit. They noticed that he was always driving around in other peoples cars, and staying in different peoples’ houses, but he never made any like friendly conversation about these people.
So like Andrew’s friends would just let him live in his fantasy world without challenging him because if they did, he would just become obnoxious and push and push with his storytelling and he would become pouty. So almost like giving him a pacifier they just let him go on because nobody wanted to see the life of the party get pouty.
In effect, this made every single person in Andrew’s life an enabler.
Around late 1992-early 1993, Andrew met a guy named Jeff Trail. Jeff was a former navy officer and had long been struggling with his homosexuality and his sense of identity. He grew up in an all-American kind of family and being gay in the military wasn’t easy in the days of “don’t ask don’t tell”.
So Jeff and Andrew met and they were both in awe of each other. Not in a sexual way, they were just friends. But Jeff was in awe of how flamboyant and carefree Andrew was. And Andrew really admired Jeff with his uniform and his classy upbringing. So Andrew would introduce Jeff to all kinds of cute boys, which was helpful considering Jeff was still pretty in the closet so his meeting with boys was very underground.
Then, Jeff started coming to terms with the fact that he was gay and he started pulling in guys from left and right. And its because he was a legitimately nice and charming man, he was such a gentleman that so many people were attracted to him.
Jeff’s career interest was drifting more in the direction of law enforcement so he bought himself a gun and he and Andrew, who had a fascination with guns, would go target shooting together. But there was one thing that Jeff didn’t tolerate and that was drugs. And everybody knew that Andrew sold drugs and that’s literally how he gets all this money, and they tried to tell Jeff but Jeff always backed Andrew up because Andrew would lie to him about where his money came from and claim it was from his parents or something. And the more people tried to warn Jeff, he would be like “look, I know. But I can’t just leave him out in the cold, he looks up to me.” He would tell people that Andrew was somebody that like, you might not like him all the time but you’re always going to stand by him, kind of like how you would with family. Jeff was a ride or die.
What people didn’t know at first was that Andrew was also using drugs. He was a habitual user of crystal meth, as well as marijuana, cocaine, and prescription downers like vicodin, xanax, or valium. He kept this very private, but those who hung out with him a lot did notice that he was really hyper a lot of times.
A little bit ago I mentioned that Andrew hung out with an older gentleman named Lincoln Aston. Idk if they ever hooked up (they were both pretty private about that) but they did hang out in the night scene for sure. While hanging out with Lincoln Aston, Andrew was introduced to a man named Norman Blanchard and they begin a “relationship” in 1994 he begins a relationship with a man named Norman Blanchord who basically was his sugar daddy but didn’t seem to get much sugar. Norman was 58 years old, soft-spoken, conservative, and very, very rich. Norman lived in Phoenix but he had a condo in La Jolla and would go often.
Norman had just recently lost his partner of 26 years to AIDS.
Andrew’s friends say that he thoroughly researched Norman and his sources of money. Norman was cautious with his money by nature, which was frustrating to Andrew..
He let him move in with him and spoiled him with an allowance, fancy vacations, lavish gifts, anything he wanted, ensuring that Andrew can live the lifestyle he wants. Unfortunately, Andrew was entitled af and started demanding things like his own place. And realistically, Andrew wasn’t offering much to the relationship. They slept in separate beds so they didn’t have sex, Andrew was pretty much just a pretty guy on his sleeve. But he was fun for Norman to have around; they would go to places like France and Italy, and Andrew would be like the tour guide. He would look up all the hottest places to go out and all the right museums, and he was super cultured about art and history and architecture.
Still, Andrew would complain to his friends that Norman was cheap. I mean he basically let Andrew decorate their home and tell him what to buy all the time, but Norman wasn’t as frivolous as Andrew. He actually wanted to pay for Andrew’s education or career. He gladly would’ve paid for Andrew to put his brain power and talent to work, but Andrew was not interested. Andrew wasn’t just greedy, he was also lazy.
In early 1995, their mutual older friend, Lincoln Aston, seemed to be becoming skeptical about Andrew. He was heard saying “he’d have to be at least ten years older than he says he is in order to do all the things he says he’s done” and was also warning people to avoid Andrew.
In May 1995, Lincoln Aston was murdered. The official story is that he was murdered by a male hustler. But there are a few people who believe that Andrew may have been involved with it. Later on, Andrew got Norman to buy him his own place. This new place happened to belong to Lincoln Aston.
Andrew moved into Norman’s condo in July 1995, leaving his mother high and dry. That November, Pete suddenly stopped having his pension checks sent to her, saying that they were intended for Andrew’s schooling. MaryAnn moved back to Illinois where her older children lived in 1995 and later went on public assistance.
While being kept by Norman, Andrew would still go out with his younger crowd and try to hook up. He would leave town to go to San Diego or something and tell Norman that he had to go visit his “ex wife and young daughter” (he would show people pictures of Liz and her daughter and claim they were his ex wife and daughter). Many of his friends didn’t even know about Norman. One weekend in November 1995, Andrew was having dinner with friends at a restaurant in San Francisco when he noticed a cute, preppy blonde guy– David Madson.
David was so charismatic, it seemed to blow people away. He was from Minneapolis in town on business (he was an architect). David also liked to live a certain type of lifestyle, but unlike Andrew, David worked hard for it. He was very driven and dedicated and earned everything he had. He was an aerobics, ski, and swimming instructor (his father said he taught half the kids in their hometown how to swim).
But he was very attracted to Andrew’s flashiness.
David, like Andrew, liked to be the center of attention. But as a peacemaker (unlike Andrew). He had a thing for the underdog and he was always trying to help people or uplift people. He was kind of drawn to people who needed him.
Before meeting Andrew, David had kind of a traumatic relationship with a guy named Greg Nelson who would end up stalking David. He spread false rumors that David had given him HIV, and he would call David as many as 120 times a day. He gave David’s phone number to sex-phone lines so people looking for action would call him. He sent pornographic literature along with a nude picture of David to David’s job at a lawfirm (sent to the senior partners), saying “do you know what your employees do?” He was finally jailed after repeatedly violating a court order to stay away from David.
This went on for over 2 years. David was afraid to open his door and he had to change his phone number numerous times. He never knew when he was going to find his car scratched up or something.
And he hated violence; His father recalled taking him duck hunting once and when they shot this duck he cried and cried so badly that his father had to try to hide the duck and give it to a neighbor.
There was also an incident when David was a dorm advisor, an angry student mistook him for someone else and pushed him through a pane of glass. He was not injured, but of course really shaken up.
Those seem like good reasons to not be a big fan of violence to me.
David also struggled with his sexuality. His family was religious it was hard for them to grasp. But even so.. When David came out to his father, his father was basically like “I can’t say I understand because I don’t believe in that, but I don’t love David any less or view him any differently.” David tried to date girls and even fell in love with one. He teeter tottered on whether he was straight or gay or bisexual.
So David and Andrew started a long distance relationship. He had to keep David a secret from Norman, and Norman a secret from David. Because of this, Andrew could never leave David a number where he could call him, so he had to wait around for Andrew to call. Andrew would send him cute letters and postcards from different places, but David could only write back to a post office box (that andrew rarely checked). He told David that his family had to keep a low profile because they were potential kidnap victims.
Andrew and David would see each other every two or three weeks or so, but Andrew would start hanging out at gay bathhouses where drugs were prevalent.
Andrew started to explore S&M and planned to get David into it, however, he would tell all his friends that David was actually the one to introduce him to it.
But before long it became “David won’t let me do everything I want to do.”
There was a dungeon master (like the sexy kind) who recall Andrew flirting with the idea of S&M and coming to him with questions about bondage and where to buy restraints and stuff. He even called him up and asked him about mixing semen with blood, like making a small incision into the chest or arm and then ejaculating into the blood and mixing it.. Even the dungeon master said “it’s very strange. It’s one way HIV spreads.”
A friend named John Semerau claimed that on more than one occasion, he had dinner with Andrew and David and they both wanted him to engage in a threesome with them, which he never did.
It seems like David was a consenting participant to these things, at least to an extent. He would go to these themed leather nights and stuff, but it DID get to a point where he said that sex with Andrew was uncomfortable and not enjoyable, and that Andrew kept trying to do things he did not want to do. When David said no, Andrew stormed out of the hotel room, down to a restaurant. He threw a little tantrum.
Another friend who talked to David said “i know on two occasions david talked to me about experiences with bondage, and it really wasn’t his thing. On a personal level, david was submissive in bed, and he’d rather be manhandled than stroked. I’m a teddy bear at home, and David would ask me to be more aggressive.”
Andrew had a friend named Doug Stubblefield, who had done his college thesis on a homosexual philosopher who articulated “going beyond the boundaries of normality”, and Andrew went to him for advice on S&M videos to rent. Doug became concerned that Andrew was violating a fundamental tenet of the pain-and-pleasure principle– that it has to be equal and balanced. He felt that Andrew was having trouble drawing that line and that he was trying to dominate David too much.
One guy said that when Andrew went on and on about how David is the man of his dreams, this guy asked him “why?” Andrew stopped and let out a maniacal laugh before saying “because he lets me do anything I want to him!”
A friend said “Andrew treated David like a slave. He would give David the car key and bark ‘here, go get the car’.”
With David having such a hard time maintaining contact with Andrew, he started to suspect that Andrew was seeing other people. Andrew was like “well I never said I’d be exclusive, when we’ve only gone out on a few dates.” David was like.. Ok, that’s fair.
But David started to feel the lack of being pursued. It’s like he was always chasing Andrew down.
One night, Andrew went to visit David and they ran into an old crush of Andrew’s. He and David took a little walk together and he warned David “Andrew is a pathological liar. It’s crazy, you don’t know who he is. Don’t put anything you’re not prepared to lose in that basket.”
He said that David listened, but it seemed he wasn’t ready to let Andrew go. “He was very commitment oriented– very Minnesota, very trustworthy and reliable.”
In July of 1996, Norman took Andrew to France, and Andrew of course blew through his allowance and then some. He decided that he should have a new Mercedes SL 600 convertible that cost $125,895, and he gave Norman an ultimatum saying that if he doesn’t get him the car, he would leave. Norman said “sorryyyyy” and Andrew packed his bags and left a note saying “I’ve moved on.” but then he called and left Norman a voicemail with his new cell number, and fully expected him to call. He really thought Norman would crumble without him. He did not, and Andrew was forced to move into a weekly studio apartment rental.
By now, Andrew had been promising David for months that they would spend the 4th of July together. But then he would send David a postcard saying “I may not be able to come home in July.” He implied his family was involved in sinister activity. Anyway the 4th came and Andrew didn’t come through, and David finally had had it, and he cut Andrew off.
Andrew was left with nobody. He wrote Norman a letter saying “I’ll let you decide how much palimony you want to give me to compensate for my year of service.” Noran gave him $15,000 and took off to Europe with new friends he had met through Andrew. When Andrew tried to deposit this money, he tried to convince the teller not to report it to the IRS, which is a requirement for any check over $10,000. The teller refused.
So now that Andrew lost Norman, he was desperate to get David back. But David was starting to get real shady vibes. Andrew had once told him “there’s someone in prison right now who got my friends in trouble, and I’ve arranged to have him killed.”
Andrew started to realize that he had lost both David and Norman, so he decided to set his sights on the one person he still had– Jeff Trail.
Andrew told Jeff he was coming to visit him for a few days, but that visit stretched into two weeks. Andrew went and got his hair cropped to look just like Jeff’s. He spent the day with Jeff’s boyfriend, Daniel, and went on and on about how David is the love of his life, the man he wants to marry. Daniel got the impression that he and David were a loving, long-term couple. He also kept getting Daniel drinks and brought him home drunk, which made Jeff pissed. He was getting fed up with Andrew and he actually called up Daniel’s mother and told her to do anything she can to keep Daniel from getting mixed up with Andrew.
Andrew was really feeling a sense of rejection now. He falls deeper into a crystal meth addiction and his appearance starts to suffer. His sense of self-worth was directly tied to the things he had and the people he knew and the things people would do for him. If he wasn’t accepted by wealthy people and high society, he didn’t know who he was. He was lost.
Jeff Trail ended up finding a job in Minneapolis and Andrew saw this as an opportunity to call up David and ask for his help to show Jeff around.
But like Jeff also didn’t ask for this, Andrew would just barge in unannounced like “ok im here to show you around town!” and then like always, the trip would extend to like two weeks and Jeff was starting to get fed the fuck up. He finally told him “dude, either go check into a hotel or go home now.”
David wasn’t prepared to have Andrew around either, and was also super uncomfortable to have Andrew barging in on his life. By now, David had a new boyfriend named Robbie, who was a tall handsome black man. Andrew knew all about Robbie, but he still told David “I’ve changed, I’m becoming a better person and I have YOU to thank for that.” This was totally taking advantage of David’s need to help the underdog. He couldn’t not help somebody so wounded.
Andrew returned to Minneapolis in mid-November and attended a party that David and Robbie were throwing. The night before the party, Jeff and Andrew went to a bar where Andrew started talking to a guy named Joe. Andrew begged Joe to let him come home with him because he didn’t have any place to stay. So they went to bed together but immediately had an argument about who would be on top and who would be on bottom. Both of them were like “I am not a bottom.”
Apparently, Andrew spent the next two hours all over him, affectionately smothering him. But when Joe would try to touch him back, he’d freak out and say “no, don’t touch me!” so they never had sex.
But, the next morning Joe remembers waking up having to fight Andrew off of him, and he had numerous hickeys on his neck. Andrew had also bitten him on the chest and leftugly bruises.
Joe couldn’t wait to get him out of his house, so he drove him to Jeff’s house. Andrew said he was cold and borrowed a $1,200 jacket from Joe. Joe saw him wearing it out later in the week but was like “fuck it, I’ll take the loss.”
The night of the party, people noticed that Andrew’s appearance had changed. He was wearing a nice suit that didn’t quite fit him anymore. He was plump and looked tired and worn. Plus, his behavior was downright bizarre.
First, he loaded a plate with hors d’oeurves and fed them to the dog, after Rob had explicitly told everyone not to feed him anything. The dog promptly threw up.
Then Andrew picked up a picture of Rob and David together and said “this looks interesting.” he was trying to get a reaction, but nobody reacted. Then he walked over to the food table that had a couple of candles on it, and he nudged a paper plate toward the flame. A friend of Jeff and David’s named Rick pulled the plate away. Undeterred, Andrew then put some napkins on the plate and shoved it into the candle flame. Then he dropped the flaming plate on the table and walked away as the smoke alarm went off.
Rob (David’s bf) grabbed it and held it under the faucet.
Then, Andrew went and started rubbing up against David and whispering in his ear, and Rob pulled him into a corner and slammed him up against the wall and said “excuse me, I understand you’re excessive. I’m not gonna have you pressing up against my man. While I am here, you respect my presence or you won’t be here.” Andrew backed off saying “alright man, it was a whim.”
David was like “omg THANK YOU” to Rob.
After the party in an elevator, somebody actually said to Andrew “you are SUCH an asshole.” He was unaffected, like it wasn’t the first time he’d heard that.
Andrew started frequenting a bathhouse called The Mustang Spa, which was open 24 hours. He started like, living there. The owners said he didn’t think Andrew was going in there to have sex, but rather just walking around annoying people, telling them his outlandish stories. He was also looking for clients to sell drugs to. He was often hanging out with a couple of junkies who were clearly using him for his drugs.
Kaufman, the owner, says
“People start living at the baths because they don’t want to focus on what’s going on in their lives. They go into the bars til they close, then the baths til they close, so they’re never alone and don’t have to think about anything. Cocooning. They get very into themselves, very weird. You have to put them out.” He kept a close eye on Andrew and kicked him out when he became too much.
Andrew was delving more and more into violent sexual fantasies. He would see a cute boy walking down the street and say something like “oh, I’d like to electrocute him.”
Around February 1997, 2 separate bartenders noted independently that whenever anyone complained about somebody’s behavior, Andrew would say “well, we’ll just have to kill him.”
David and Rob broke up and David would soon get a new boyfriend named Cedric Rucker. He would kind of try to avoid hanging out with Andrew, but Andrew was always insisting or offering some amazing trip or something, or offering to pay for his friend’s wedding, and David was indeed kind of dazzled so he would keep taking expensive presents from him, while still telling him he didn’t want to be anything more than friends.
They went on a trip to LA with a couple of friends and Andrew again, tried to get David into bed with him. But David didn’t let up. He was in control now, and Andrew’s rage was building.
Andrew went back to San Francisco. One night, he met a 26 year old man named Tim Schwager at a dance club. Andrew took him back to a fancy hotel. Tim says his memories about that night are hazy, assuming he might have drank too much or possibly may have been drugged.
Like Joe, Tim had memory flashbacks of trying to fight Andrew off during the night, and then woke up with three hickeys. He remembered going to sleep wearing underwear but woke up totally nude.
Before Andrew returned to Minneapolis for the final time, he stayed in San Francisco, clearly on drugs. He went out for the night and ran into friends and was weirdly aggressive. Like, his friends said he would come up behind them and pick them up and spin them around, or he would playfully put them into a chokehold that was wayyy too tight. Like his friends were straight up like “dude you’re hurting me!” or “you’re embarrassing me.” because he would do that thing where he’d pick somebody up and kind of jump them up and down and it looks like you’re humping them. it was over the top and weird af.
Andrew hung out with his old friend Steven and talked about them like they were in love and made no mention of the fact that David had rejected him. He said things like “he’s the man for me.” Steven asked “why do you say that?” Andrew’s face contorted and he let out a loud, manic laugh and said “well he lets me do anything I want to him!” and just started cracking up.
So Steven was like “.... like what?” Andrew was like “ohh you know, cages, harnesses around the genitals, latex masks..” Steven was kind of freaked out by this.
Then Andrew invited him back to his hotel, kind of implying they were going to try some of those things.
Steven was like “Andrew, we’ve been friends for 8 years. Don’t you think this is a bit silly?”
Andrew was like “yea, maybe you’re right.”
Steven picked up on the fact that he was seeing a different side of Andrew than he was used to. He was no longer upbeat and happy, he now seemed unfulfilled and troubled.
By April 1997, Andrew had racked up over $40,000 on two credit cards and was totally broke. He had filed for bankruptcy and got American Express to purchase a ticket to Minneapolis. Nobody knew at the time that this was a one-way ticket. He began giving away his possessions, and told friends he had unfinished business with Jeff Trail.
And that’s where we’re going to leave off for Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2!