Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Cunanan: After Me, Disaster

Andrew's World

"Nothing is more hopeless than a scheme of merriment."

Samuel Johnson

According to his biographers, Andrew Cunanan experienced his first homosexual encounter when he was in his early teens. He liked it; his libido liked it; in fact, he found it more tantalizing than the few times he petted some young female behind the Bonita bleachers. Strangely, he advertised his new-found passion by describing every last-nights sex to the other boys in class who at first thought he was putting them on. He described his feelings so openly that after a while it became a standing joke among the Bonita males to "watch out for" that Cunanan kid in the shower room after gym classes. He boasted his trysts with the same braggadocio as the other boys did their conquests of Jeannie and Donna in the back seat of their car.

High school yearbook photo captioned 'most likely to be remembered'
High school yearbook
photo captioned 'most
likely to be remembered'

Because he made no pretense of his sexual leanings, the kids at Bonita who otherwise picked on other effeminates left Andrew alone. When he crossed their paths they regarded him as a likable curiosity. Everyone was happy to tolerate Andrew because he was a bit like the court jester, a friend recalls. He was so unashamedly gay that it prevented anyone from taking offense. What you saw was what you got.

Andrew the jester (Gamma Liason)
Andrew the jester (Gamma Liason)

By age 15, Andrew had grown huskier than most boys his age and had acquired a mien of experience far beyond his peerage. With his dark good looks and manner, he found it possible to hang out and drink unquestioned at San Diegos more popular gay establishments.

Still, there was a lot of surface masquerade going on. There was a lot of Andrew Cunanan that Andrew Cunanan did not like. He began to, using author Clarksons word, "reinvent" himself almost as a cause celebre. Glamour became the keyword; he wanted to be glamorous. Firstly, he did not like being Filipino, so he suddenly became Latino and acted out the part with the verve of an Antonio Banderas. At the bars he was known as either Andrew DaSilva or David Morales. A chameleon, he changed faces and figures with a pair of stylish glasses or a trim of his sideburns, or through the transformation from a suited Clark Kent to a T-shirt wearing Superman. Even though he was Personality A on Friday night, he could be Personality B at the same spot on Saturday and get away with it. Those who spent hours with him at the bar one night would not recognize him the next.

Graduating from Bishops, Andrew enrolled in the University of California to study history, but late-hour games of hopscotch from one gay bar to another detracted from his schoolwork. College was his parents wish, not his, and the only direction he preferred was into a bed of some stud pick up.

But, even the muscular biceps and dimpled smiles of the "cute boys" eventually became secondary to the strategic tools of success that Andrew began eyeing and employing. Listening to and watching the maneuverability of the more popular homosexuals his age, he soon realized that the more sought-after members of the gay community well, the smarter ones anyway were able to peddle their bodies to the older, more mature, bankrolled men who frequented the cafes. Most of these men led secret lives unbeknownst to a wife and children at home or to business partners at work. These were the guys who paid well for services well done; these were the money men, the corporate executives, the architects and the lawyers, the realtors and the politicians.

"Pillars of the community" with cash, they doled out unceasingly to handsome specimens like Andrew Cunanan who satisfied their deepest, most twisted erotica.

Very few questions were asked by these men nor did they offer much information about their personal lives. Andrew was a male prostitute; they recognized it and he recognized it. And because he was in demand he knew that too his price was high. Andrew didnt seek one-night-stands from these wealthier types; that was something for the brawny construction workers, policemen and weight lifters who wanted a fling. Milk money. The price asked of the older fellows was cream.

Andrew frequented the clubs with several particular elder lovers. From them he got things; from one a $30,000 automobile, from others credit cards to use at will. He enjoyed the fine life, the parties and their hideaway uptown apartments they kept him in, their exclusive wanton secret; their beef stock. They would take him to society functions, usually as their "secretary" or "associate". Andrew met the city leaders, the celebrities. He learned the talk, the walk, the styles. And he learned how to keep secrets.

Modesto and Mary Anne Cunanan, in the meantime, had no idea of their sons homosexuality. His mother would have been especially horrified. That they were suspicious as to where he was getting his new clothes, his expensive watches and an overall obvious source of income (Andrew never held a job) and where he was spending his evenings is no understatement. When they asked, he either lied or ignored them.

Mary Anne might have worried more had it not been for other, more pressing family problems. Modesto had failed miserably in his new profession as stockbroker and was growing more despondent. Having been fired from several agencies over the last couple of years, his last termination brought with it not only the scar of his inability to perform but charges of embezzlement. He was accused of taking $106,000 from the business. It wasnt long before he disappeared from Bonita, escaping to his native Philippines.

His desertion left Mary Anne without income. She was forced to sell their home and move into a smaller place in the lower side of town. Her children helped where they could. Andrew found his visits to her unpleasant, for she had begun hearing the rumors about Andrews gay lifestyle and, she finally admitted, had spotted him several months back kissing another man in San Diegos business district. Heated words were exchanged. Losing control, Andrew shoved her against the house wall so hard that she dislocated a shoulder. He did feel genuine guilt and tried to apologize, but his apologies seemed to fall on deaf ears. As if in spite, Andrew quit college and left for the islands to spend some time with Modesto.

That visit was short and disastrous. Andrew was horrified to find his father living in a shack in squalor: unpaved, unsewered, garbage-laden streets, fowl roaming at will, rot and decay in the climate. Striving to spend as much time away from that scene as possible, he wandered the streets of the red-light district for money to get the hell back to the States. He sought out company of his own. He sold himself nightly; no matter that the boys were dirty and hadnt bathed for days; sometimes they wanted him to dress like a woman for added kicks. He did that, too anything for the peso. Finally, enough money earned for a one-way air trip, he flew back to San Francisco. It is doubtful he said goodbye to his father.

San Franciscos high life provided the mouthwash he needed to cleanse the taste of the Philippines from his palate. There, in the City by the Bay, he played throughout the infamous Castro District, a small-time Las Vegas for gays. Its varied assortment of cafes, nightclubs, bistros, bars and spas catered to all tastes of homosexual life. Hangouts included The Badlands, San Marcus and the Midnight Star. Under the guise of a number of new personae, Andrews most popular alias was the young, suave and sophisticated Navy Lieutenant Drew Cummings.

Of the many characters he portrayed, albeit successfully, there was one distinguishing trait that he could not hide. If one looked close enough it would have been obvious. Says Wensley Clarkson in Death at Every Stop, "The one giveaway might have been his eyes dark and moody."