Were Andrew Cunanan & Ronnie Friends? 'Vulgar Favors' Discusses Their Relationship
As The Assassination of Gianni Versace continues to explore Andrew Cunanan's life in Miami before and after his murder of Gianni Versace, it will introduce viewers to the people he met along the way. That includes South Beach resident Ronnie, played by Max Greenfield. But how did Ronnie fit into Andrew's life? Were Andrew Cunanan and Ronnie friends? Ronnie appears to be the closest Andrew got to a friend at that time in his life, but the relationship was motivated by necessity.
This season of American Crime Story is based on the book Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth, considered by many to be the definitive story of Andrew Cunanan's life and crimes. She spoke to the real life Ronnie Holston in the course of her research, and he relayed to her how he met Cunanan, as well as what their relationship was like. "Andrew was a hustler. I knew that from the moment I saw him," Ronnie told Orth. "He was on the take. I set him up. He was very, very generous."
Cunanan was said to have killed his first four victims (Jeff Trail, David Madson, Lee Miglin, and William Reese) in just under two weeks, then fled with Reese's car to Miami. He remained there for two months before shooting Gianni Versace and during that period, he stayed at the Normandy Plaza Hotel. That was where Cunanan first crossed paths with Ronnie.
According to Ronnie, he saw Cunanan going in and out of the hotel a lot. "This guy comes out every day in his baseball cap and sunglasses, at all hours," Ronnie said. "I would always speak: 'Hey, how are you?' He finally came up and said, 'Where can I get some rock [crack cocaine]?'" Ronnie said he could show Cunanan where, and would often retrieve drugs for him in exchange for some money. In Vulgar Favors, Orth discussed rumors that Cunanan had been secretly addicted to crystal meth while living in San Diego before his murder spree.
In addition to aiding Cunanan's possible drug habit, Ronnie claims he helped him make money by engaging in sex work. "He never said where he was from," Ronnie explained to Orth. "I set him up with a few old men, old rich guys around here. They would use my room. I got money that way." Many wealthy people lived in Miami and Ronnie claimed he knew at least one man who was "older than God, worth ninety-three million" whom he introduced to Cunanan.
Cunanan later used Ronnie's room number when providing his address to a local pawn shop. Cunanan had pawned a gold coin taken from his third victim Lee Miglin and used his real name and passport to do so. The shop reported the information to the Miami police, but nothing was done with it; a week later, Cunanan shot Versace. In the first episode of The Assassination of Gianni Versace, the police followed the lead to Ronnie's room, which was how the character made his first appearance.
Though Cunanan and Ronnie were friendly in the few months they both lived in the Normandy Plaza Hotel, it's unclear whether the friendship was more than transactional. In Vulgar Favors, Ronnie spoke to Orth about looking out for Cunanan because they were both gay, saying, "For people who are straight, the gay world is like any other. What the gay world is, is if you take care of me, I'll take care of you. In the gay community we are all a close-knit people. We don't reveal."
However, it doesn't seem like Cunanan revealed anything about his life or his previous murders to Ronnie. Though Ronnie told Orth that he was aware that Cunanan was in hiding, he didn't know why or that it had anything to do with such violent crimes. Ronnie knew Cunanan during a key part of his life, but he only knew a fraction of what was really going on.
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