Unlike a lot of shows, American Horror Story has always made it a habit to include real, recognizable characters from history into its fictional universe. The decision is brilliant because it's really kind of a thrill to see people you have read about become involved with the characters from Ryan Murphy's world that we have all come to love. Once Season 5 American Horror Story: Hotel was announced, and Lady Gaga signed on for a lead characters, I had to find out: is Lady Gaga's character on American Horror Story: Hotel based on a real person? The answer is a resounding yes, and trust me, her character's inspiration is grounded in the stuff that true nightmares are made of.
Gaga's character, Elizabeth, is the owner of the Hotel Cortez, a ritzy hotel set in modern day Los Angeles, California. Elizabeth is an uber glamorous socialite who secretly maintains her stunningly fierce good looks by using her special clawed gloves to murder people and drink their blood. Yup. You read that right. Don't push her into the sun and watch her start sparkling just yet, though. Elizabeth isn't an honest to goodness vampire, she just has a weird/demented fetish for ingesting the fluid of life. Standard.
Elizabeth is based on another, similarly (but on a whole other level) terrifying Elizabeth from history. Her roots are found in Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary. This lady was no joke. She holds the Guinness World Record as the most prolific female serial killer in history. That's no easy title to earn. They don't just hand that out like participation ribbons. Elizabeth snagged the title without even breaking a sweat. Known as the Blood Countess, she was charged with the torture and murder of upwards of 650 young women between 1585 and 1610, according to History.com. Like Gaga's character, Ms. Bathory fancied young human blood to keep herself vibrant and beautiful. She was known to bathe in the blood of her victims because of her belief in its powers of rejuvenation.
The reality of the real Elizabeth's brutality is pretty hard to stomach. Tales of pins jammed under fingernails and forcing girls to eat their own flesh are simply the tip of this sociopathic iceberg. I hope Gaga has her game face on, because portraying someone inspired by such a monstrous human can't be easy.
Images: Suzanne Tenner/FX; Giphy; Frank Ockenfels/FX