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The Real Killer Clown That Inspired AHS’ Twisty

It’s hard to imagine anything more horrific than American Horror Story’s disfigured clown Twisty or Stephen King’s Pennywise, but as deeply unsettling as that fiction is, the truth that inspired it is so much worse. Believe it or not, there’s a root to this evil, and its name was Pogo.

For some clowns mean big smiles, floppy feet, and lapel adornments that spray water into your face unexpectedly. For others, however, the sight of make-up adorned children's entertainers is traumatic. When it comes to phobias, clowns are surprisingly common. At the very least, a great number of people will agree that there's something unsettling about them.

This, in some part, has to do with the fiction that surrounds them. Whether it's Pennywise from Stephen King's It or Twisty from American Horror Story (a more recent, but equally scary entry into the pantheon of killer circus performers), media has reinforced the idea that clowns should be feared. It's no wonder then, that they exist as a terror to both children and adults.

But where did this fear of clowns come from? Well, it actually came from a very real, very horrific string of murders perpetrated by a man in a clown costume.

In this episode of True Fiction, Kurt Indovina digs into the most notorious murderous clown of them all, real-life serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Speaking to Ryan, Greg, and Lucy from the GameSpot Universe team, he delves into the life and crimes of Gacy, explores how he impacted horror fiction, influenced our fear of clowns.

For more True Fiction, head over to the YouTube playlist, where you'll find episodes on Twin Peaks, Jackie Chan, Star Wars, and more.

Show Info

True Fiction

True Fiction

Airs Weekly

True Fiction is a show that blurs the line between fantasy and reality, exploring how real-life inspires pop culture.