Ricky Martin was a closeted 25-year-old Latin singer who had yet to break into the mainstream when the openly gay Gianni Versace was shot and killed in front of his Miami home on July 15, 1997. Twenty-one years later, the Grammy winner is stepping inside that mansion as the designer’s partner, Antonio D’Amico, in FX’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
“I needed to be part of this,” says Martin, wed to painter Jwan Yosef. “The ups and downs, the frustrations, the uncertainty, the fear of losing your career because you’re gay is something that is there. I needed to talk on behalf of the many people who are, unfortunately, not able to feel as complete as I feel right now.”
The dad of 9-year-old twins Matteo and Valentino opens up more.
Q: Back in the ’90s, how familiar were you with Versace?
Ricky Martin: At that moment, I had a campaign with Giorgio Armani. Even though the Versaces invited me to all their fashion shows, I couldn’t go. Mr. Armani would have been like, “What are you doing there?” But I knew how sophisticated Mr. Versace was in many aspects. His art collection was outstanding. The way they lived was intense. And the way this incredible production is bringing that to life is brilliant, even scary.
Q: What was your first meeting with Antonio like?
RM: I couldn’t talk to Antonio before because the network advised me not to. Talking to him was emotional. I had tears and I was choking. We talked about the love he had for Gianni. That is something that I really want to bring out. There’s a lot of injustice, but love they had was indestructible.
Q: On a personal level, how did this story affect you?
RM: I’m a gay man that lived in the closet for many years. To see the process of Gianni actually coming out and sitting down in front of a journalist to talk about his reality is something that moved me in many ways. Even though everybody knew about the relationship with Antonio, the fact that they couldn’t be as open as I am right now with my relationship is something that really frustrates me.
Q: How did you shake Antonio off every night?
RM: Driving home, I opened the windows and screamed and cried and laughed. I immersed myself completely. I told my family to please back me up because this is as serious as it gets in the sense of the amount of emotions I dealt with.
Q: How does this differ from performing on stage?
RM: I can be in front of an audience of 100,000 and the vulnerability is amazing. But there is something about this story. Something about how respectful we have to be about every decision, how we talk, the mannerisms of Southern Italians. I have no words to describe how powerful this has been.
Q: Will you swap music for acting?
RM: Music will never stop. We can do acting, we can do music, we can do dancing. Let’s do the three of them!
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story premieres on FX Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.
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