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Notorious Kin Filipino America Re-imagines Andrew Cunanan christine bacareza balance Journal of Asian American Studies, Volume 11, Number 1, February 2008, pp. 87-106 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/jaas.2008.0001 For additional information about this article Access Provided by University of California @ Irvine at 09/27/10 6:24PM GMT
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NOTORIOUS KIN Filipino America Re-imagines Andrew Cunanan christine bacareza balance JAAS FEBRUARY 2008 87–106 © THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS Dear Regie, I am geared towards calamity, fragile as baby teeth. Shards every hour of a failure to cope with every day. So much wine, I feel like I’m flying to Europe and I hate airplanes. . . .Versace was sucking bacon when he saw me. He tried to smoke his way out of a cordial conversation but I followed him like Magellan. He stretched and his head split, bullets the size of M&Ms tumbled toward him, dried icing thrown at a bride’s face. His lids burst. The marble stairs hemorrhaged, sliced open to a purple sky, the salt a mile away. I became witness to his headline. I made that headline. Love Letter from Andrew Cunanan , Regie Cabico 1 W E FILIPINOS ALWAYS KNEW THAT Andrew Cunanan—with his telltale last name—was one of us. Despite the first news reports in the summer of 1997 of a racially unidentifiable suspect responsible for a series of gruesome murders, Cunanan fit our profile of one type of Filipino with his aspiring passions, charm, considerable intelligence, and calculating rage. Some of us felt an affinity on a certain level with Cunanan’s background story. The mixed-race son of an immigrant Filipino and ex-Marine father and an Italian American mother, Cunanan grew up as an outsider to the enclaves of San Diego, California. A social chameleon who re-invented himself in situations where he was regarded as queer or foreign, Cunanan’s name and image reminded us of friends, relatives, or former lovers. In some circles, we joked about being mistaken for him.
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88 JAAS 11:1 For all of us, Andrew Cunanan remains a notorious symbol of the deadly consequences of crossing the lines of racial, sexual, and class boundaries that America creates. Although we mourned the loss of the five victims he murdered, we still pause to consider Cunanan as more than just a headline. On a smaller and less violent scale, we could relate to what we imagine to have been his experience of being outside a group yet wanting to belong. We honed in on Cunanan’s earlier actions as part of the processes of adaptation necessary for survival, although the news rendered his behavior as erratic and strange. His violent actions were excessive forms of the intricate and improvised steps we who are outside the norm perform daily in this cultural cha-cha with America—maintaining our own rhythm while adjusting to others, making sure not to step on too many toes, and feeling the need to add an extra swing in the hips for accent and flair. Beyond the multiple registers
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