With the new mini-series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” being broadcast in heavy rotation this month, let’s take a look at Andrew Cunanan & His Gay Bathhouse History
From the book “Vulgar Favors: The Hunt for Andrew Cunanan, the Man Who Killed Gianni Versace” by Maureen Orth
The Mustang Spa, open twenty-four hours, caters to closeted bisexuals and an admiral or two. “On the weekends I get the gays,” says owner Todd Kaufman. The Mustang is in North Park, a blue-collar area; not gentrified the way Hillcrest is, it is an easier place to hide. Early in 1996, Andrew started popping into the Mustang for quick sex. By the fall he was staying longer, sometimes for more than twenty-four hours. “I don’t think he was having sex at all,” says Kaufman. “I think he was annoying people.” Andrew was wandering around without sleep and looking the worse for wear. Kaufman had seen the syndrome before. “People start acting like they live here. I got the feeling he had lost his job and was on the skids. His stories were out of this world.” In his previous visits, Andrew had kept to himself and given the impression he was slumming. No longer.
“You pigeonhole people,” Kaufman continues. “He went from being one type, dressed in nice clothes, to another – jeans, T-shirts, leather, bummy, sloppy. 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 till they close, then the baths till they close, so they’re never alone and don’t have to think about anything.” Kaufman calls this “cocooning.” They get very into themselves, very weird.
You have to put them out. Andrew would come in at 2 A.M. on Saturday, after the bars closed, and would still be at the Mustang late the next day. Eating out of the candy machine or getting an hour pass to go outside and buy something at the taco shop down the street. “Roseanne was on at five P.M. He’d sit and watch that.
Around this time Robbins was in Mexico, attempting t o get involved in the production of Titanic, hoping to help build sets for the epic film which was shooting there, but he wound up doing stunt work instead. Andrew, oblivious to the ridiculous impression he was making, would go around the Mustang bragging that he was building sets for Titanic and name-dropping about his Hollywood connections. “He got so desperate when he was trying to tell me these stories—he had to justify his worth,” Todd says. What Andrew was really doing was dealing drugs. “He was hanging out with three leather druggie types. He came off like a Catholic schoolboy, in over his head. He gave the impression he was trying to act as tough as they were, and he wasn’t. They tolerated him because he was supplying. Two of them are in jail now.”
Kaufman started keeping a sharp eye on Andrew, who he thought was on ecstasy or cocaine. “I got the impression people were using him. He was trying to buy people’s attention, and he was selling a lot, too,” Kaufman explains. “He got on my and my workers’ nerves, and I can put up with a lot or I wouldn’t be in this business.” Kaufman finally decided he had had enough. “When he got too involved in dealing, I had to eighty-six him from the club. He made a bunch of threats when I kicked him out: ‘I’m going to tell my friends not to come in here.’ “ Kaufman never considered Andrew violent; he was as he says, “controllable. It was very easy to throw him out – that’s not always the case.”
Kaufman concluded that Andrew was suffering from depression and “very low self-esteem. He was leading several lives at once. He came across as someone drowning.”
The Mustang Spa has since closed over ten years ago.