This Is Who All The Cult Members Of American Horror Story Are Probably Based On

Photo: Frank Ockenfels/FX.
When we started American Horror Story: Cult, it was hard to tell what was fact, what was hallucination, and what was wild fan theorizing. Were the murder clowns and Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) actually connected, or were they a terrifying coincidence? Is something deeply questionable going on with Ivy Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill), or are we as paranoid as poor Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson)? And, most importantly: are we ever going to get any details about this titular cult? Finally, we know the answer is “yes” to all of those questions thanks to the revelatory fourth episode, “11/9.”
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The installment takes us to Election Night 2016, and the days leading up to it. Through that lens, we find out how the cult we’ve been hearing so much about came to form, and who is definitely in it, or related to it. During the episode, it’s confirmed Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner) and his wife Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman) are definitely held under Kai’s murderous cult-y sway, while we learn there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Ivy’s connection with her “babysitter” Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd).
Since all good fiction has its basis in facts, all of these cult members are inspired by real-life events, people, and trends. Keep reading to find out the secret histories of all these villainous American Horror Story season 7 characters.
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Kai Anderson

Kai is blue-hair, orange-dust wearing mix of the worst types of “alt-right” Internet trolls and the most infamous cult leaders of recent memory. That former half of that equation is confirmed by councilman Tom Chang (Tim Kang) literally calling Kai a “4chan guy,” referencing the alarmingly anonymous social media platform that was at the center of everything from that criminal leak of female celebrities’ nude photos to #GamerGate.

It’s proven Kai is also supposed to remind you of the charismatic cult leaders of days gone by thanks to the fact Peters will play multiple cult leaders this season. FX already announced viewers will also see the AHS veteran as Charles Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Andy Warhol.

Upcoming season 7 episode titles hint when we’ll see these new version of Peters. Installment No. 7, “Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag,” is named for the woman who attempted to assassinate Warhol and will star Lena Dunham as Solanas. Penultimate episode “Charles (Manson) in Charge” also directly (and obviously) references famed cult leader Manson.
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Winter Anderson

Cult leaders don’t tend to drag their actual family members into the their new insidious organizations. Instead, they make entirely new “families” of their own, as the aforementioned Charles Manson did.

So, Winter doesn’t have a real-life cult member counterpart she’s based on. Instead, it seems the AHS character is supposed to act as a biting commentary on what happens when an avid Hillary Clinton supporter like Winter — who attended to a feminist liberal arts college and took time off from school to dedicate her life to the cause — feels the kind of fear one does when Donald Trump is in charge. As we’ve seen so far on Cult, that kind of disillusionment can have some extreme consequences.
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Ivy Mayfair-Richards

Gaslighting has become the topic du jour ever since Donald Trump was first called out for pulling the manipulative tactic on the entire country. It only makes sense someone is possibly acting in a similarly devious manner in a season inspired by the former reality TV host.

As we learn in “11/9,” the very suspicious Ivy is actually uncomfortably close to Winter, since the pair met at a political rally, had a heart-to-heart, and decided to kidnap Trump supporter Gary K. Longstreet (Chaz Bono) for retribution after he sexually assaulted Ivy. That means Ivy very well could be a part of the cult, although her level of involvement is still a mystery.

If Ivy is one of Kai’s followers, and not just a secret pal of Winter’s, she is clearly gaslighting Ally. That would mean she’s putting blood in her wife’s amuse bouches, letting clowns in their home, and orchestrating clown attacks, all while pretending Ally is “crazy.” If this is true, Ivy falls in line with the gaslighters of the world like Trump and the many abusive romantic partners, like this one, whose conniving schemes are plastered across the internet.
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Gary K. Longstreet

Speaking of Gary, there are a lot of disturbing images in American Horror Story’s “11/9,” but one of the most unsettling is the moment the criminal Donald Trump supporter reveals a bloody wound where his arm used to be. As we find out at the close of the episode, Kai had Gary saw his own appendage off to prove his dedication to making America great again.

While nothing quite so gruesome happened in the real world, a bloodied Connecticut resident still insisted upon voting in the 2016 election after a violent accident. An unidentified New London political science professor reportedly “tripped and fell” as he walked into his polling location, sustaining a head wound. "There was blood everywhere," an eyewitness told The Day.

Still, the man would not be deterred, saying, "I have to vote.'" He ended up casting a ballot curbside while waiting for the ambulance arrive. The individual filled out his vote while a local and stranger kept pressure on the bleeding gash.

Gary would be proud.
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Harrison Wilton & Meadow Wilton

The Internet was filled with stories in April 2017 of a disgruntled Florida gym employee named Abeku Wilson who reportedly killed his manager and another individual before turning the gun on himself. It’s possible Ryan Murphy and co-creator Brad Falchuk saw the shocking news item and wondered how the heartbreaking situation would have gone down if the trainer had been under the spell of a cult leader at the time. It’s worth noting Cult filming wouldn’t begin until at least a month after the disturbing headlines were made.

The other big half of Harrison’s storyline, that he’s a gay man married to his straight woman best friend Meadow, is already a popular option for a lot of people. Everything from Cosmopolitan to Oprah.com and British newspaper The Sun has a story about that kind of relationship.
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Beverly Hope

Broadcast field reporter Beverly (Adina Porter) snaps after she turns into a disgusting viral meme. The problem begins when an on-camera source stops mid-sentence during an interview to say, “Grab her right in the pussy.” Obviously, he was quoting Donald Trump. From there, multiple interviewees yell that horrifying phrase at Beverly, live on television, until she finally assaults a “prankster.”

The thing is, that lewd trend isn't exactly something Murphy & Co. made up for Cult. No, the “Fuck her in the pussy,” meme infected actual televised interviews across the globe, with men yelling that at women reporters in the middle of their broadcasts.

Multiple real-life female journalists were subjected to the treatment, including one woman working at an NBC affiliate, and one Canadian reporter who paused an interviewer to confront a group of rude men. Still, none of these women whacked their “pranksters” with their mics. Unfortunate.
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