Devin Friedman checks into Villa Casa Casuarina and slips into the most famous bed in Miami.
So you want to know what it would be like to be Gianni Versace. Sure, of course, it’s only natural. Well, the first thing to know is that when you’re Gianni Versace, your bed is so big you can sleep either way. The long way, like normal people. Or sideways, because when you’re Gianni Versace your bed is actually wider than it is long, a requirement for the bed of any self-respecting Italian fashion prince. And you can actually sleep in this bed. Because, if you’re not aware, the former South Beach Versace mansion has been reopened as a hotel, and chief among the attractions is that you can sleep in Gianni Versace’s actual bedroom. Which I did.
The hotel is called Villa Casa Casuarina, which brings to mind the house of Pippi Longstocking— the equally alliterative Villa Villekulla. If you haven’t seen it, or the TV show American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, it’s a Spanish Missionstyle sandstone villa carved right into the imposing street-front facade of the South Beachiest part of South Beach. I stayed in the Villa Suite, which I was told was the actual bedroom of the (dead) man himself. The Villa invites this precise fantasy: What would it be like to be Gianni Versace? To pad around the outdoor walkways that overlook the interior courtyard? To lounge by the pool, which is more water sculpture than pool, which is exactly like what it would be like if you had the Trevi Fountain airlifted from Rome and deposited at your house? No exercise could ever happen in this pool; cavorting only. Preferably naked while eating grapes.
To be Gianni Versace is to simultaneously live in the sunniest, busiest, most exhibitionistic place on Planet Earth and also to shut yourself off from it. To look only inward, and turn off the lights. To be Gianni is to sleep in a room that’s like a mausoleum, surrounded by enormous amounts of marble in many colors, all inlaid with still more marble of other colors, and heavy, churchy oaken faceted walls. To be Gianni is to be always in the dark; the only windows in the suite are stained glass, and they are mostly stained wine red. It’s a room built to be slept in all day long. It’s perfect for, say, 24 hours of sex, or sleeping off an insane hangover, for having breakfast in bed delivered when you’re a delicate flower of a human who is designing Italianate fashion pieces with your sister whose name is Donatella.
You know how when you’re staying in a nice hotel on a business trip you think, as you fall asleep with your laptop on your chest, It’s such a shame I don’t have another person to share this awesome bed with? This bed will make you think, It’s such a shame I do not have a starting NBA lineup plus two Great Danes to share this bed with, or all of the Victoria’s Secret Angels, past and present, or everyone who has ever served as national security adviser for Donald Trump. Or maybe the Angels together with the national security advisers?
And when you’re Gianni Versace, you are in this bed in the dark while at the same time people in bikinis mass outside your front door to take pictures of themselves. Like, throngs (in thongs) of people, acting like they’re taking photos of themselves at the Lincoln Memorial or Madame Tussauds. Which may strike you as kind of macabre. Because, being Gianni Versace, you would know that people are here to take pictures of you because you were murdered in this very spot. But can you really blame someone for being macabre? You were the person who wanted to sleep in dead Gianni Versace’s bedroom, after all.