American Whore Story

Emmy-nominated actress, Naomi Grossman made a name for herself as “Pepper” on American Horror Story, the fan-favorite and first crossover character in the show’s history to be featured in multiple seasons. Her "side-splitting," new one-woman show is a love letter to AHS fans, which shares her “darkly fabulous and profoundly revealing” behind-the-scenes experiences leading up to AHS and its afterglow. Winner of the 2023 BroadwayWorld Award for “best solo production,” this autobiographical ode to self-compromise chronicles Naomi's history of hustling— from the odd jobs she’s held to her even odder love life. She gives it to us straight (with a slight, gay detour), recounting everything from her Red Bull car crash to her boyfriend in a coma. She takes us on a transformative trip to Burning Man, an acid trip to a 1960’s Rat Pack-rager, and along her own, triumphant trip from a Spanish teacher to #1 on IMDb.

Adults Only
80 minutes
Solo Performance, Comedy, Storytelling, Theatre
The Bug Theatre
3654 Navajo St, Denver, CO 80211

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Naomi Grossman (writer/performer/producer) was a 2018 Primetime Emmy nominee for "Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama" for her role in Ctrl Alt Delete. Best known as the first crossover character, the fan-favorite "Pepper" on FX's American Horror Story: Asylum & Freak Show; Naomi also appeared as a new character, the Satanist "Samantha Crowe" in the 8th season, Apocalypse, as well as in the spin-off series,  American Horror Stories.

Naomi made #5 of IMDb's "Top 10 Breakout Stars" after her STARmeter skyrocketed to #1, making her the most searched in its entire 8 million person database. Huffington Post, The Wrap, Screen Rant, and Syfy all ranked Pepper among "The Best AHS Characters Ever;" MTV named her their "#1 Good Guy;" Uproxx, their "#1 Most Tragic;" Geek Insider, a "Top 5 Most Underrated AHS Performer," and Entertainment Weekly called her being cast in the role "The Best of 2012."

Fans may also recognize her from cameos in the following feature films: Table for Three, The Chair, 1BR, Sky Sharks, Bite Me, Painkillers, Hauntology, The Lurker, Murder RX, The Portal, Preacher Six, An Accidental Zombie (Named Ted)Fear, Inc. and Pet Detectives. Naomi graduated in theatre from Northwestern University, and is a former member of the Groundlings Sunday Company.

Richard Israel (director) is an LA and New York-based theatre director specializing in the development of new musicals. Current development projects include A Very Brady Musical (with Lloyd Schwartz, the original Brady Bunch series producer), King Of Pangaea, (finalist - NAMT Festival of New Musicals), Good Man with David Goldsmith (book writer - Motown), Home Street Home with Jeff Marx (co-lyricist and bookwriter, Avenue Q) and The Mollyhouse.

Richard was the Theatrical Coordinator for the Emmy award-winning seriesBig Little Lies and was the director of the multiple award-winning musical short film Into Light.  Notable west coast productions include Violet (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Direction of a Musical), Floyd Collins (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Direction and Outstanding Musical), 110 in the Shade (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award for Outstanding Intimate Musical), and the world premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins. He is the proud recipient of the LADCC Career Achievement Award for Directing.

Sarah Anthony (producer) most recently produced the documentary, Kiss The Future with Pearl Street films, and was the Senior Story Producer of Light and Magic, for director Lawrence Kasdan and Lucas films. She was the lead Producer on the Grammy-winning HBO documentary seriesThe Defiant Ones, and on the Emmy-nominated The Price of Free (formerly titled Kailash), a documentary about child slavery which won the 2018 Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize. Other recent projects include story-producing the top ten Netflix series Heist, and Consulting Producer for Making a Murderer, Season 2.

Sarah began her documentary career in London, with films on subjects ranging from the Iraq war to the Ming Voyages of the 1400’s. She was Associate Producer for PBS FRONTLINE on The Age of AIDS, a four hour series covering the history of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In 2007 Sarah moved to Los Angeles and joined Exclusive Media as the Co-head of Documentary Features. At Exclusive she supervised development, production and distribution on multiple documentaries including Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material WorldBilly Joel’s Last Play at Shea, and the Academy Award-winning Undefeated. She then returned to FRONTLINE as co-producer on Endgame: AIDS In Black America, and from there went on to line-produce The World According to Dick Cheney for Showtime.

Sarah has worked extensively with director Davis Guggenheim and Laurene Powell-Jobs' Emerson Collective on a variety of social justice issues, from immigration reform to re-designing the American high school system. She is passionate about using media to inspire social change.

Kate Atkinson (producer) has created, developed, and produced documentaries, narrative films, and live stage productions.  

She’s the co-writer and producer of Part of the Plan, a Broadway-aimed original musical with songs by Dan Fogelberg, which opened Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s 2017/2018 Broadway series.  She and her partner Karen Harris - as K-Squared Entertainment - are current investors in Broadway’s Funny Girl and the upcoming Off-Broadway's new musical, Millennials Are Killing Musicals.  Kate’s also one of the lead producers of A Very Brady Musical, based on CBS's iconic TV show The Brady Bunch.

On the film side, she’s produced almost a dozen movies, from quirky comedies like Night Vet, starring James Cromwell, and Clara's Carma, starring Stephen Tobolowsky... to romantic dramedies like McCartney's Genes, and Enough Is Enough, which she also co-directed.  Her first film, the documentary Extra: In the Background of a Dream, has been distributed both in the U.S. and internationally, and its soundtrack has been regularly featured on NPR’s “This American Life”.

To nourish her passion outside of the arts, Kate's built a successful, full-service education company, having taught and mentored hundreds of students over the past 25 years.  Holding an MBA from Northwestern in Marketing, Finance, and International Business, as well as undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Education, she’s an active member of the Screen Actors Guild.


Lights out in an intimate Off-Broadway theater in the depths of a drizzly Hell’s Kitchen – the dodgy end with a notable history of the hustlers and streetwalkers of yore, somewhere in the mid-40s between 8th and 9th. A video screen above the stage showcases a series of images edited crudely and disturbingly, set to a jarring track of disjointed, unsettling music. Flashes of headshots and images from a woman’s motley past dance across the screen intermixed with the mug of a familiar, widely celebrated television character. This cheeky display is an all-too-familiar nod to fans of American Horror Story. Suddenly, at the opening credits end, in that unmistakable, iconic font, the words AMERICAN WHORE STORY appear in contrasting black and white. Lights up on Naomi Grossman.

In her new solo show (which just closed out its off-Broadway run at New York’s AMT Theater after a successful Los Angeles premiere and brief U.S. tour), Grossman shares intimate and frequently hilarious details of her history of hustling from her first-grade bid at turning a profit to booking her career-changing turn as the microcephalic Pepper on American Horror Story: Asylum & Freak Show – and beyond. Since her turn as Pepper, Grossman has returned to AHS as the evil (to say the least) Samantha Crowe in Apocalypse and garnered a Primetime Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Lorna on Ctrl Alt Delete.

From the moment she utters her opening line (“I’m whore to the core!”), Grossman sweeps the audience through a whirlwind of unbelievably all-true stories, ranging from the obscurest of odd jobs to twists in relationships that rival even the most shocking seasons of AHS. Her penchant for infusing comedy with heartfelt sentiment elicits a steady stream of reactions from the audience, ranging from relatable chuckles to uproarious laughter and even the occasional burst of applause. Yet, Grossman doesn’t rely solely on laughs to transport her audience throughout this tickling tell-all. There’s a fair amount of levity and relatability to her stories that solidify her ability to keep a tight hold on her audience. Energetic direction by Richard Israel provides a thorough pace as Grossman dons elaborate electric capes, gives an impromptu (and inappropriate) Spanish lesson and yoga-poses her way through some sticky situations.

AMERICAN WHORE STORY’s many highlights include Grossman’s turn on AHS and the after-effects of her sudden celebrity status. Peppered (pun intended) with title cards (in that familiar AHS font) informing the audience of time and place, we’re given a first-hand account of an emotional maelstrom of the journey from struggling actor to IMDB’s No. 1-searched celebrity. Tales of her experience at fan conventions enlighten us about the adoration of fans and the impact her performance has on them, and a particular trip to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights to check out the Pepper animatronic in an AHS haunt while under the influence of LSD are particularly spectacular.

It’s clear that Grossman has a deep appreciation for the opportunities she’s been given and what her status as an AHS icon means to horror fans, but what’s so special about this production is that we see glimpses of Grossman in her journey to that life-altering audition that give us a deeper appreciation for her as well. To hear tales of someone who stands up and tries again and again in the bitter face of industry rejection sheds new light onto her portrayal of Pepper and provides a fresh definition of what the word “whore” actually means. You gotta respect the hustle!

Grossman’s greatest achievement in AMERICAN WHORE STORY, though, is that she leaves her audience both rooting for her and proud of her. The entertainment industry is a nasty business, one that deserves its own season of American Horror Story, but it’s artists like Naomi Grossman who inspire those aspiring to press forward. You’ll never book that big gig if you don’t show up to the audition, and that’s perhaps what Naomi does best – show up.
https://rue-morgue.com/theater-review-ahss-naomi-grossman-hustles-in-american-whore-story/?fbclid=IwAR1MJSW8dRK3_UT9XO_54A8OMK_SHJ_VEQ4aHc4-P0X0KQa6Dzssmj3EfnI
No one should call into question the oratorical powers of a professional whore, much less that of Naomi Grossman, who was bred by the trials and tribulations of taking on wacky Hollywood roles such as hers in “Burkas Gone Wild” and “My Boyfriend is a Blimp” plus many more for over twenty years before landing the role of Pepper in FX’s popular horror television series “American Horror Story.”

In the most recent (Dec. 28) Taos production of “American Whore Story,” Grossman provides us with a stylized and lewd portrait of the person behind the microcephalic mask of that fan favorite FX character. While the world hunkered down during the pandemic and resorted to baking banana bread and binging Netflix shows ad nauseam, Grossman turned her attention inward and transformed the misgivings of her lift into one memorably laughable solo production.

The gift of Grossman is that she will go there — she’ll take it there and more often than not you’ll have no choice but to laugh. This applies even to people who have not been exposed or have no interest in “American Horror Story.”

The image of Grossman dancing at a pool party in a giant condom costume is one for the ages. Her ribald tales of teaching students the proper way to conjugate the verb butt-ducking in its many facets (no infinitives are left unattended) is side splitting. Fans of Grossman and relative strangers get to find out about Latin lovers and closeted boyfriends who perform infidelities via unapologetic orgies. She’s got more than a few jokes about Burning Man and hallucinogens.

Throughout all this Grossman has enough energy to throw in a crow’s pose, both lending credibility to her story of practicing yoga and just flat out demonstrating her athletic abilities. The solo production runs at a brisk pace between all the comic gags dealt masterfully by Grossman.

She’s claiming Taos as her home for now instead of Denver where she was born, as it’s the cooler option and where she spent more time on-and-off as a youth. Up next for Grossman, she’s taking the same production off-Broadway.

After performing to sold out houses over the holidays, American Whore Story by Naomi Grossman will be offering one more chance to see this amazing show before she heads off-Broadway to New York. A second weekend for those who missed the first or would like to see it again will be at the Wildflower Playhouse, Friday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Jan 20, at 2 p.m. Tickets available for $30 at wildflowerplayhouse.org and at the door.

"American Whore Story" has just been named "Winner of the 2023 BroadwayWorld Regional Award for Best Solo Production." Naomi Grossman is also being honored by the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival with this year's Maverick Award, which is "presented to an artist or individual whose work has set a high standard of individuality and self-styled creativity."
https://www.taosnews.com/tempo/arts/an-american-whore-at-her-best/article_f1fc5a73-8318-5ec6-8bd5-61bb42f3e276.html
Emmy-nominated actress Naomi Grossman, best known as “Pepper” in American Horror Story, presents a darkly fabulous and profoundly revealing one-person show at the Skylight Theatre.

From crashing the Red Bull car into a shopping mall to masquerading as an Argentinian Spanish teacher, American actress Naomi Grossman did just about everything to survive before finally landing her big shot in Hollywood. When she landed the role of Pepper, she had to shave her head to become the pinhead and accentuate the extremities of her appearance. A microcephalic woman and former performer with Fräulein Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities committed to Briarcliff Manor in American Horror Story Asylum, Pepper has been called the most physically unattractive character on television.

What proves to be ironic is that when you watch Naomi Grossman in her one-person show, American Whore Story, at the Skylight Theatre, she is anything but unattractive. In reality, Naomi Grossman is charismatic, super cute, and quite sexy. Theatre producer Kate Atkinson and documentary filmmaker Sarah Anthony have partnered with Grossman to bring American Whore Story to the stage under their AWS Entertainment Group banner. Directed by multiple Ovation Award-winner Richard Israel, American Whore Story is one more example of people finding her to be special, attractive, and worth their time and investment.

However, one wonders whether the actress even knows this about herself. After all, the painful heart of her show is about her father’s rejection and the lasting legacy of that traumatic experience in her life. Affecting everything from her driving desire to achieve to her twisted relationships with men, such a childhood trauma is the corrosive force that haunts this woman’s life. When you consider the pain of that childhood rejection, it is incredible that she did not embrace a variety of addictions as an escape plan. As Dr. Gabor Maté writes about the relationship between substance use disorders and childhood trauma, “The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.”

Despite the pain, Naomi Grossman never fell into the pit of addictive disorders beyond making remarkably bad choices regarding the men she chose to love. Focusing on good looks instead of good character, she chose men who could not help her heal that original trauma. In truth, they only made things worse through careless stupidity and ugly betrayals. However, as you listen to these stories of woe, Naomi Grossman’s performance is not reduced to a feel-sorry-for-me tragedy. It is not a bummer to watch the actress reveal the travails of her life because she is innately clever, funny, and fun. Rather than feel sorry for herself, her first instinct is to laugh at herself, and she wants her audience to laugh with her.

As Sarah Anthony describes her friend, “Naomi has a Lily Tomlin-level stage presence and humor. She’s an accomplished yogi; her physicality and timing are as dynamic as her writing is sharp. We’re excited for audiences to meet the real Naomi Grossman – a whip-smart, one-of-a-kind firecracker.” Indeed, one only hopes these qualities apply to Naomi’s romantic life today. After all, she deserves so much more than she has received in the past.

Ultimately, the success of American Whore Story is to reveal a profound intersection between childhood trauma and adult fame. Everyone in Hollywood, at least when they first arrive in this glitzy town of broken-down dreams and false promises, believes that fame and success will cure them. However, fame and success do not heal past trauma or relieve an ingrained sense of unworthiness. If that were the case, River Phoenix, Whitney Houston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, and so many more would still be alive today.

In American Whore Story, Naomi Grossman points out that, although Hollywood fortune and fame are lovely, they do not replace the inner work that must be done to address trauma. The courage and fortitude of this one-person show is to take the audience on this journey to the point of realization. In the end, there is no end because we must continue living for another day. Thus, it is our choice what to do with that day and how we choose to live. As the show ends and she takes her final bows, we are grateful that it feels as if Naomi Grossman has made a choice to celebrate her talents and value the rare gift of a human life.
https://thehollywoodtimes.today/the-intersection-between-trauma-and-fame-in-naomi-grossmans-american-whore-story/
Grossman was charming, funny, touching and so relatable as she shared stories from her life and career to the standing room only opening night audience.

Actress/writer/producer Naomi Grossman has 64 credits as an actress on her IMDB.com page since her uncredited appearance as “Confirmation Kid” in a 1990 episode of Father Dowling Mysteries. But it took her performance as Pepper the Pinhead, the first crossover character in the Ryan Murphy anthology series American Horror Story in its Asylum and Freaks seasons to put her at number 5 on IMDB’s “Top Breakout Stars” when her STARmeter shot to #1. Pepper generated millions of fans worldwide and Grossman appeared at ComicCons and Horror Festivals around the world.

Grossman has a theatrical and improv background and is currently on stage at the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz Thursday nights during the month of June with her one-woman confessional American Whore Story. Grossman was charming, funny, touching and so relatable as she shared stories from her life and career to the standing room only opening night audience.

She shared excerpts from the salacious memoir her mother wrote at age 75. She recounted her experiences with the opposite sex, starting with a boy in her first grade class who charged ten cents to see his belly button. Her longest relationship was with a drug-addicted Mexican who dangled and then fell off the Santa Monica Pier. She shared a little song she composed “Boyfriend in a Coma”. Then there was Judas who really lived up to his name by betraying her with a string of gay encounters, from gloryholes to orgies. She survived them all and still has a zest for life. She also told of her various jobs while waiting for her sitcom to launch; everything from Red Bull girl to Spanish language teacher in Beverly Hills.

Richard Israel directed the show and keeps Grossman moving about the playing area and working with enough props to keep the monologue from becoming static. Even though only 90 minutes, feels too long at times. Some judicious editing would help the evening pass more smoothly although the opening night audience of “Cracked Peppers” and other alcohol-imbibing fans did not seem to mind.
https://ladramacriticscircle.com/american-whore-story-skylight-theatre/
I have always said that many blessings came from the pandemic. Naomi Grossman beautifully proves my theory with the creation of her AMERICAN WHORE STORY during the bleakest of times. This is not a bleak play by any means. Instead, the Emmy-nominated and renowned favorite Pepper from American Horror Story has taken her chaotic, but never boring, life and turned it into a hilarious romp through career, love, and spiritual mishaps. This charismatic dynamo’s production is further enhanced by entertaining video projections that range from schoolyard crushes to Hollywood red carpet moments and all the insanity in between that brought her to #1 iMDb status. Director Richard Israel keeps the pace brisk, and the 90 minutes passes all too quickly with the audience wanting more. This is a one-of-a-kind performance from a one-of-a-kind person. If HBO isn’t calling, they should be. Naomi Grossman – AMERICAN WHORE STORY – not to be missed.
http://www.eljnyc.com/Offbway.html
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The Bug

3654 Navajo St, Denver, CO 80211

Entrance: The main doors are on the west side of the building at the corner of Navajo and 37th 

Parking: Street parking is usually plentiful, but please allow extra time

Accessibility: ADA accessible

Admission: You must show your ticket confirmation or purchase a ticket at the venue; all seating is general admission, audiences will wait in a queue before entry to the show