It's always fun to geek out with someone over your favorite show. But it's not every day you can geek out with one of the stars. "Every episode the ante gets raised, the stakes get higher!" actor Chaz Bono says of American Horror Story: Cult, the latest iteration of the long-running anthology series. "When I read the scene where Sarah [Paulson's character Ally Mayfair-Richards] takes off her mask, I was like, 'Oh my God.' Because we don't find stuff out ahead of time on this show. You get to work and you talk to your costars like, 'do you believe this?'"
Bono plays Trump-lovin' cultist Gary, who first appears unnerving Ally with a MAGA hat and a missing arm. I had thought that was just a little Lynchian touch.
"That's a good thing about the show, generally things don't just happen for no reason," Bono replied. "I got some weird comments on [the premiere] online and I wanted to just tell people, 'Just wait! It will be explained!'" The explanation came in the fourth episode ("11/9") in which flashbacks reveal that Gary was locked in a basement and sawed through his own arm in order to cast his vote for the Donald. Unsurprisingly, that backstory was about the extent of Bono's knowledge prior to shooting. "I was told basically everything up to [that episode]," Bono says. When asked for clues on Gary's fate in the final two hours, Bono demurs. "I can't [tell you anything] unfortunately. You know I can't."
The gruesome nature of American Horror Story has meant that some of Bono's friends and family have had trouble watching it, including his mother Cher. "She's loved it," Bono says. "Her only problem is that she gets scared, so she has to wait to watch until she's with a group of girlfriends. I have a lot of friends who find the show really scary. I'm a huge horror nut so I don't even find it scary at all."
Even Bono's girlfriend, a fellow horror fanatic, had some trouble with the dream sequence in which Ally imagines insects crawling inside of her. "She freaked the fuck out!" he recalls. "It was so funny. [But] we all have our thing. October for me is like horror movie month. We got this movie Pet. There's a scene where a nail breaks off. My girlfriend asked me what was wrong and I was like, 'I can’t do nails.' There are those little things that freak people out."
Bono's roles tend towards the dark and freaky, if only because those parts appeal to the actor. "I like to play bad guys, that's just what is fun," he explains. "Horror and crime tend to have those parts." So do superhero films, like Adi Shankar's Gods and Secrets, a twist on the genre that Bono filmed a few years back. "I'm really anxious to see it. It's been in post-production and they've reshot some things. It has the possibility to be really cool, really different, and really dark."
Notably, all of Bono's parts to date have been cisgender characters, a deliberate move on the actor's part. "As a guy who's a character actor, who likes to play different parts, I didn't want to get pigeonholed," he explains. "It's kind of ridiculous I've only seen trans actors play trans characters. It baffles me, honestly, since that's not what I've done. I don't look like what people think a trans person looks like. I have very white collar looks, so that's part of it for me."
Though Bono iterates that "once you transition you are living your truth, as the gender you feel," he acknowledges that many are not so enlightened. "We’re not at the point where people are fully comfortable with trans people. [But] I don't think anyone looks at me on American Horror Story and says, 'I can’t believe this guy because that person happens to be trans.'"
He's right. And hopefully, that reality will continue to allow Bono and others to break barriers in the future.