The facade of the Cecil Hotel. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
The fifth season of American Horror Story premiered this week and producers are promising fans it will be the darkest and possibly most disturbing season they have ever created.
This installment of the anthology series is set in a fictional hotel in downtown Los Angeles owned by a shadowy character known only as “The Countess,” played by none other than Lady Gaga.
The fictitious hotel is actually based on a real property, the Cecil Hotel, and the creepy history surrounding the Cecil, a budget hotel known for hosting transients, may actually be stranger than fiction. Since the property opened in 1927 it has been home to not one, but two serial killers, been the site of several murders and suicides and become a popular destination for ghost hunters.
Some folks even believe that each of the hotel’s rooms is cursed in its own peculiar way. The Cecil recently attempted to rebrand by changing its name to the Stay on Main hotel. The new website described Stay on Main as one of the city’s hippest boutique hotels and hostels.
Frankly, an appearance in the popular television show will likely do more to increase business for the former Cecil, at least for guests obsessed with the macabre. AHS fans have already been lining up to experience this place for themselves.
Here are five things about the real hotel that should completely freak you out before you tune into tonight’s premiere.
A photocopy showing Elisa Lam of Canada is displayed at a street memorial across the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
1. In 2013, the corpse of Canadian tourist Elisa Lam was discovered in the hotel’s water tank after guests mentioned that odd smelling black water was coming out of the taps in their bathrooms. Residents and guests of the hotel had been bathing and brushing their teeth for nearly three weeks with that water. How Lam died remains a mystery, but security video footage of her in the hotel’s elevator shows her behaving erratically and speaking to someone who is clearly not there, leading some to posit that she was possessed. AHS creator Ryan Murphy has said that Lam’s story was an inspiration for this season.
WATCH Lam’s video below:
2. One of the more infamous residents of the Cecil was serial killer Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez who lived in a $14 a night room at the Cecil in the midst of his killing spree across Los Angeles. Once he was captured by police Ramirez was convicted of 13 murders. He disposed of his victims’ bloody clothes in the dumpster behind the Cecil.
3. A Ramirez copycat, the Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger stayed in the hotel and murdered three prostitutes in the property in 1991, strangling the women with their own bra straps.
4. There have been numerous suicides at the hotel, but one of the more infamous happened in 1962 when a hotel guest named Pauline Otton, just 27 years old, threw herself out the ninth-floor window. She landed on a pedestrian on the pavement below, killing him instantly.
5. In 1964 a local character known to neighbors as the “Pigeon Woman" for regularly feeding the pigeons in the square, was found stabbed, strangled and raped in her room. That murder also remains unsolved.
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