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Charles Keating reference on American Horror Story: 1984 explained

Charles Keating
American Horror Story: 1984 makes reference to Charles Keating. Pic credit: Youtube/USA Today

American Horror Story is back, and this time fans are treated to an 80s summer slasher. The first episode introduced us to notorious real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez, also known as the Night Stalker ( Zach Villa) who terrorizes a summer camp. The season premiere also brought back AHS regulars like Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, and Cody Fern while some new faces join the cast including Gus Kenworthy and DeRon Horton.

The stars look to escape the bustling 1984 Los Angeles in favor of taking jobs as counselors at Camp Redwood. From what we’ve seen so far, Season 9 pays tribute to many aspects from the 80s, including synth-pop, aerobics and slasher films.

While we’ve already delved into most of the first episode as well as this season’s main protagonist, the Night Stalker, the season 9 premiere also makes reference to other well-known names from the 1980s like Charles Keating and Larry Flynt. Perhaps echoing the thoughts of viewers, Chet asks, “Who was Charles Keating?”

Who were Charles Keating and Larry Flynt?

First mentioned by the god-fearing camp owner Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman), which is what prompts Chet to ask “Who is Charles Keating?” in the first place. Aside from being Margeret’s good friend, Charles Keating’s name became synonymous with the savings and loan crisis in the late 1980s, Newsweek explains.

At that time, millions of Americans had lost their life savings after investing in savings and loans companies, of which more than 1,000 went out of business.

Before all of that, however, Keating was known in other circles. He was well known for his anti-pornography activism, for example, and sat on the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, set up by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1969. The commission was created in an attempt to better understand the effects of pornography.

It was here, through his campaign against “smut” and his belief that pornography was destroying public decency, where he earned the nickname “Mr. Clean.” He also wasn’t particularly fond of homosexuality, calling it a “seduction of the innocent.”

In AHS 1984, Margaret refers to Keating as a “dear friend,” adding that she was “right by his side in Cincinnati during the Larry Flynt trial.”

Larry Flynt was on the other end of the spectrum. He was a pornography tycoon and founder of Hustler. In 1976, he was put on trial in Ohio on charges of Obscenity. He was convicted but the ruling was later overturned.

Keating had long been successful in his campaign against pornography in Ohio, managing to uphold anti-porn sentiment in the state, including Flynt and his magazine.

Keating died in 2014 at the age of 90. Following his death, Flynt told the Phoenix New Times: “I never say anything bad about anybody who’s passed on, but no one deserved it more than him. All those years in the ’70s when he was having me prosecuted for having published obscenity, he was stealing money from those little ol’ people in Lincoln Savings and Loan. He’s the scum of the earth.”

American Horror Story is available for streaming on Netflix


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