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Cold beer and killer women
A bar owner recalls regular customer, serial murderer Aileen Wuornos

It was spooky. Eerie. Downright "freaky". Al Bulling, owner of The Last Resort Bar, is talking about watching actress Charlize Theron portray one of his regular customers - serial killer Aileen Wuornos - during the filming of Monster.

Theron didn’t just look like Wuornos, convicted and executed for murdering six men. She acted like her, down to the smallest detail. "Every minute she was in this bar," Bulling says of the actress, "she was in character." The Monster crew spent two long days last February shooting at The Last Resort, a tiny tavern south of Daytona Beach that Bulling has owned for 24 years. Wuornos was known as Lee there.

"How Lee behaved outside this bar," Bulling says, "I don’t know. But she never did nothing here. She never propositioned anyone. She did ask for rides here and there, but that was it. The bar scenes in that movie are accurate." What Wuornos did outside the bar was monstrous; she admitted to killing seven men, including a missionary, but she was convicted for six murders because the missionary’s body was never found.

In January 1991, undercover cops posing as bikers lured Wuornos out the front door of the bar and she was swarmed by police. Bulling sells $15 T-shirts proclaiming The Last Resort as the "world famous home of ice cold beer and killer women". He also sells bottles of Wuornos’s favourite hot sauce, now called "Crazed Killer Hot Sauce" for $5. The bottle features Wuornos’s photo and warns: "Not recommended for women with PMS".

Bulling guesses he has sold a few hundred T-shirts. Just as he says it, an elderly couple stumble into the bar to buy T-shirts and hot sauce. They also get Blondie the bartender to ask Al for an autograph. Bulling guesses that Wuornos favoured his bar because there used to be a pawn shop next door. She pawned anything of value found in victims’ cars, from a fishing rod to a radar detector.

Today, a wall of the cramped, cluttered little bar is devoted to snapshots of the stars and crew in Monster. There’s a smiling Al squished hip-to-hip between director Jenkins and star Theron. A cheek-to-cheek shot of Al with the smiling actress holds place of honour behind the bar. Bulling is briefly seen in Monster as a bartender. When a drunk Theron-as-Wuornos is told she can’t run a tab for more beer, she pleads, "Al will give me credit", and she gets another beer.

The night before her arrest, Wuornos slept in the yard behind the bar where Bulling’s truck is parked. "It was a Friday night, and it was cold. I couldn’t turn her away. She had no place to go." Sure, seeing Monster made him feel a little sorry for Wuornos, he says. "She didn’t come into this world as a killer."

Paul Lomatire

Sidney Morning Herald - 6 March 2004
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