It’s not every day you get a cold call from Lady Gaga, even when you’re Ryan Murphy (
). “I was at a construction site and my phone rang,” he recalls. “I didn’t recognize the number. [I answer and] I hear ‘Please hold for Gaga.’ I think ‘Bad Romance’ was playing [while I was on hold],” he adds with a laugh. “Then she got on the phone. At first I thought it was a prank, but we then had a lovely call.” And a brief one, too, says Gaga, who’s a huge
was her favorite season, for the record). “I called him and I said, ‘Ryan, I wanna be on
. It’s not a huge leap to connect Gaga with the spooky series. This is the same woman who wore a meat dress to the 2010 VMAs and arrived at the 2011 Grammys in a giant egg. But in recent years, the singer has shifted toward a slightly softer, safer route, collaborating on a jazz album with Tony Bennett and performing selections from
at the Oscars this past year. She now says that she’s ready to go back to the freaky-deaky figure whose fans fittingly call themselves Little Monsters. “I’ve just been weeping while I’m here because I have returned to something I’ve believed in so much, which is the art of darkness,” says the singer. “It’s not something that everyone understands, but, for the people that do —
fans, my fans — there is a true connection between us, and it’s a language within itself.”
While bedbugs might be the biggest concern for most real-life travelers,
’ Hotel Cortez unleashes a whole slew of far more frightening vacation terrors. Built in 1930 by the rich and charming but deeply psychotic James March (Evan Peters), the beautiful art-deco hotel is, in actuality, a labyrinthine structure built to hide March’s murderous activities (think dead ends, secret rooms, endless shafts).
In present day, though, the Cortez is acquired by Gaga’s Countess, a glamorous socialite who attends art openings and fashion shows and maintains her looks not from a steady diet of kale but from imbibing human blood. Murphy doesn’t like to call it vampirism. “I prefer the term ‘ancient blood virus,’ ” Murphy says of her affliction. “It’s really a form of hemophilia, in a way.” The Countess is also insatiable when it comes to love and sex, which sets up a macabre love triangle between her, the similarly blood-hungry Donovan (Matt Bomer) and the newly turned male model Tristan (Finn Wittrock).
Also gravitating around the world of the Cortez are Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett), an actress/former lover of The Countess’ seeking revenge; Iris (Kathy Bates), Donovan’s mother and the front desk clerk; Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), a cross-dresser nicknamed by The Countess; Hypodermic Sally (Sarah Paulson), a junkie and friend of The Countess; Detective John Lowe (Wes Bentley), a cop investigating a murderer named the Ten Commandments Killer; and The Addiction Demon, a creature in the vein of Rubberman or Bloodyface, who has no eyes or mouth but does wield a nasty, conical drillbit dildo.
will launch its boldest, goriest, sexiest iteration when
premieres Oct. 7 on FX. It also marks the first without star Jessica Lange, who bowed out after last year’s
. “There’s a chance to do something Jessica would not have done,” admits Murphy. “So it’s a different tone. But it’s still the show — make no mistake. I think it has what people want.” Adds Sarah Paulson, who has appeared in all five
versions: “There’s something about this season that’s got real heat to it. It’s pulsating. Every season has a different tone or a color. And I think this year for sure would be blood red.”
To continue reading more about the upcoming season of
, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday, or buy it here.
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