"Freak Show" will be set in Jupiter, FL, with Jessica Lange capping off her fabulous "AHS" run as "a German ex-pat" who's running a sideshow in the '50s. Given the show's previous dalliances with WWII nastiness, we can make a few guesses about Lange's character, who has been described as a Marlene Dietrich type of gal. Dietrich was a one-of-a-kind badass sex bomb who could rock a men's tux as well as a fabulous gown. She was also a vocal opponent of the Nazi party, even (especially!) when they offered her the chance to be Germany's leading lady. Let's expect lots of Lange vamping and fabulous androgyny -- along with freaks! Gabba, gabba! Lange's gang of freaks will included returning stars Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, and Frances Conroy.
Florida was the winter home to quite a few circuses sideshows in its time; for instance, the Ringling Brothers adopted Sarasota as a winter base and even set up a circus museum there. However, the Florida town that's most known for its seasonal freakiness is Gibsonton, which served as a seasonal home and/or retirement location for carnies and freaks of all stripes. ("X-Files" fans will remember that the episode "Humbug" took place in Gibsonton and featured several "self-made" freaks, which included The Enigma and Jim Rose.) In addition to folks like Priscilla the Monkey Girl, Al Tomaini the giant and his wife Jeanie "The Half-Girl," and the Hilton Siamese twins, Gibsonton was home to the rather infamous Grady Stiles, who was also known as Lobster Boy. Stiles, who was by all accounts an abusive drunk, was convicted of third-degree murder in 1979 after he shot and killed his daughter's fiancé. Stiles himself was later murdered by someone hired by his wife, Maria, who feared for her life.
Although Jupiter wasn't a circus town like Gibsonton, this part of Florida's history is perfect "American Horror Story" territory -- but let's not forget casting some real freaks, starting with The Lizardman. Erik Sprague, a professional freak who performs sideshow acts and comedy around the world, is tattooed with green scales and modified with a split tongue, filed teeth, and subdermal implants on his brow. He was also spotted on the set of a Terrence Malick project with Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman, although what will make Malick's final cut is anyone's guess.
It's not that we don't want to see "AHS" regulars like Conroy go full freak, but it would just make sense to hire people who know the biz inside and out, and who live it every day. The world needs more freaks!
Photo by Shutterstock / Sheli Jensen