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American Horror Story NYC: Where Horror & Real-Life Embrace

Written by on November 30, 2022

Story by Chuck Tackett

American Horror Story NYC: Where Horror & Real-Life Embrace

 WARNING: This article contains spoilers.

When American Horror Story (AHS) premiered in October 2011, it was my understanding the show was supposed to be a fusion of American true events, and pop culture intermingled with the supernatural.

I have enjoyed almost all of the seasons of AHS except Season 10 Part 2 titled “Death Valley.” I just couldn’t get into it. I watched the whole season to give it a chance. I kept nodding off a few times. I had never done that with other seasons I had watched. I guess Ryan Murphy didn’t bat 100% with me that time, but that wasn’t a reason to kick him to the curb.

Years ago, I learned not to put much credence in what professional film critics say about a movie or series. I will judge for myself. At times, they have been correct, and other times, I have disagreed with their assessment. When it comes to social media critics, I paid no heed to what they say especially if they claim they had not seen a film or only a couple of episodes, like when Ryan Murphy produced the series “Dahmer.”

I was very excited when I read what AHS Season 11 was about. I was not disappointed. When I learned that British actor Russell Tovey, who is openly Gay, joined the cast, it added to my excitement. I first became acquainted with Mr. Tovey when he starred in the British series “Being Human.” Mr. Tovey played a werewolf. I enjoyed his performance. If the name of that series sounds familiar, the SyFy Channel had an American version.

A few days later after AHS Season 11’s finale ended, I started seeing all these negative posts about Ryan Murphy calling him self-hating and loathing because of AHS NYC. I went to the Facebook pages of some of them. Some of them look like they were in their 20s or 30s. They were not even born in the 1980s. I just thought to myself, “Someone is in desperate need of attention.”

Ryan Murphy met the benchmarks of what I understood AHS was supposed to be all about. Here’s why.

The Mai Tai Killer was based on a real-life Gay serial killer who is still alive today and serving a life sentence for the murder of at least 2 Gay and Bisexual men. His name is Richard Rodgers. He was named “The Last Call Killer.” Like the Mai Tai Killer, Rodgers was a surgical nurse. In AHS, The Mai Tai Killer did a “Dr. Frankenstein” on his victims. Rodgers buried his in bags.

The LGBTQ club fire massacre: That scene was based on a true event. On June 24, 1973, The Upstairs Lounge located in New Orleans, Louisiana was the scene of an arson attack that for the longest time was the worst mass killing of LGBTQs in the USA. The suspect was Roger Nunez who was kicked out of the club for belligerent drunken behavior and fighting/harassing other customers. He was escorted out. While he was being ejected, he hollered out he would come back and “burn you all out.” He made good on his promise. Nunez was identified. Because of the police’s laissez-faire attitude and bigotry toward LGBTQ folks, Nunez was never arrested, even though he came forward several times to the police admitting he committed the crime. Nunez committed suicide in 1974. 32 people died and 15 people were injured. For the longest time, this incident was the deadliest attack on LGBTQs in a club until June 2016 at Pulse nightclub located in Orlando, Florida. 49 people died and 53 people were injured.

The mysterious Leatherman or “Big Daddy”: I think most of us figured out that “Big Daddy” was a metaphor for the AIDS pandemic. Having him be like “Michael Myers” who is an American pop culture monster was a thumbs up for me.

Some of you complained you didn’t want a history lesson, or it was too sad or depressing. Like any other community, the LGBTQ community is not always “sunshine and Santa Claus.” For those who whined about not wanting a history lesson, you sound like a doofus. We are presently living in a time where there is a concentrated effort by multitudes (some who are elected leaders), who want to demonize us and erase our historical accomplishments alongside other marginalized groups.

For those of you who said it was too sad and depressing, imagine what it was like for Baby Boomer LGBTQs who lived and survived through this epoch. My male best friend of 18 years died of AIDS. For the longest time, I was the only one who knew he was ill. I was the one after working overnight shifts at the phone company who would take him to doctors regularly. On those days, I wouldn’t get to bed until early to mid-afternoon. He was too frightened to tell his evangelist family. It wasn’t until the virus caused him to have kidney failure that he told them. I was the one who had to take him to dialysis. I sat with him for his 4-hour treatments. They were 3 times a week. We coordinated 2 of those on my days off. His cousin, who was far from being religious, would take him on his third treatment. A few months later, the virus attacked his brain. His condition worsened and he had to be admitted to the hospital. His family didn’t allow me to visit him. When he died, his sister called me on the phone and told me of his passing. She then said I and his other friends were not welcomed to the wake and funeral. She then hung up. So for those of you who weren’t even alive in that era, your fake ass fragility means jack squat to me. I think you would want to know what it was like. It’s our history.

It’s my understanding there is supposed to be a Season 12 of American Horror Story. I would love to see how creative Ryan Murphy would be in fusing the COVID-19 pandemic and putting a supernatural spin to it.

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