Everything to Know About Lena Dunham's Character on 'American Horror Story: Cult'

She'll be the first character on 'Cult' who's based on a real person.

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Despite the fact that this season of American Horror Story centers around the real-life U.S. presidential election of 2016, all the main characters thus far have been fictional. That's for the best—Kai is a real asshole and everyone but Serena and Sally are the worst —but it still might make you a little disappointed that AHS didn't use its cult season to go deep on any of the many real and terrifying cults that have existed. All that's about to change, though, because Cult is finally about to start to incorporating a handful of characters based on real people.

First up is Valerie Solanas, who'll be played by Lena Dunham in episode seven, appropriately titled "Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag." Given that Solanas died in 1988, it seems likely that she'll appear in flashbacks, but you never know with American Horror Story. Here, a quick guide to Solanas so that when she shows up on Cult, you'll be able to fact-check every single one of her scenes.

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Lena Dunham as Valerie Solanas.
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1. Solanas was born in 1936 and had a difficult childhood. She claimed that her father sexually abused her, and after her parents divorced, her mother sent her to live with her grandparents. Solanas said that her grandfather was an alcoholic who physically abused her. She left her grandparents' at age 15 and was homeless for a time before moving to New York City in the 1960s.

2. She outlined her radical feminist beliefs in the SCUM Manifesto, published in 1967. S.C.U.M. stood for "Society for Cutting Up Men," and the book argued that men are inferior and thus responsible for everything wrong with the world. Some scholars interpret the manifesto as satirical, but at the time it caused much debate among contemporary feminists.

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3. She was best known for her association with Andy Warhol. Solanas met Warhol in 1967 and asked him to produce Up Your Ass, a play she'd written about a prostitute. Warhol later wrote that the play was "so dirty" that he thought she might have been sent to him by the police as part of an "entrapment" plot. Warhol didn't produce the play and claimed to have lost it. When Solanas demanded payment, Warhol paid her $25 to star in his film I, a Man.

Solanas in 1968.
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4. In 1968, Solanas shot Warhol and art critic Mario Amaya at Warhol's studio the Factory. According to biographer Breanne Fahs, Solanas tried to show her play to artist and producer Margo Feiden the day of the shooting. During this visit, she told Feiden that she would shoot Warhol and that would make the play famous. Feiden then called the police as well as the offices of Governer Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay but failed to convince anyone that the threat was real. Solanas waited for Warhol at the Factory and shot at him three times; she missed twice but the third bullet hit his lungs, stomach, spleen, and esophagus. She also shot Amaya in the hip and tried to shoot Warhol's manager Fred Hughes before her gun jammed.

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Solanas demanded a retraction of this headline because she was not an actress.
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5. Solanas turned herself into the police and said she'd done it because Warhol "had too much control in my life." After undergoing psychiatric evaluation at Bellevue, Solanas was charged with assault, attempted murder, and illegal possession of a deadly weapon. She was declared unfit to stand trial and was sent to a mental institution; she was also diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In June 1969, she represented herself at her trial and was sentenced to three years in prison (with one year already served).

6. After her release from prison in 1971, she was institutionalized several more times. She died of pneumonia in 1988 at age 52.

Lena's episode of Cult (teaser below) airs October 17.

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