|“||At 2 p.m., we check out a basketball game. Hot Carla, the local pyro, is usually there. She's become like my personal totem.||”|
— Elliot Alderson
Hot Carla is a recurring character who appears in Season 2. She is a hairdresser, a pyromaniac, and a transgender woman, incarcerated in the same prison as Elliot Alderson and Leon. Due to the strained relationship between Elliot and his other "friend", the audience, the full story of their friendship is revealed only in Elliot's journal, “eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt”.
Throughout early life, Carla was known as Jack. She spent a lot of time at a local hair salon, learning from female role models and experimenting with cosmetics. When Jack's father beat her for playing dress-up in his sister's clothes, Jack found a sympathy and assistance from the hairdresser, Carla. When Jack was kicked out of the family house, she gave her a job, a place to live, and eventually inspired Carla's new name.
While visiting a club, Carla was confronted, harassed, and groped by a transphobic aggressor. She punched him in the groin, went outside, and set fire to his sports car, accidentally triggering a multi-car explosion. Spellbound by the flames, Carla was apprehended at the scene and sent to prison.
As a trans woman in a men's prison, Carla is the target of physical and sexual abuse, particularly from an inmate named Santos. She finds relief in selections from the prison library (which she reads cover-to-cover, then burns in her red wagon), contraband cosmetics, and the companionship of her pet rat, Reynaldo.
Elliot Alderson first encounters Hot Carla on May 16, when she starts a fight with a fellow inmate over a stolen tube of lipstick. Curious, Elliot begins following Carla around the prison, conducting "offline research" on her life and personality. Hot Carla takes note of Elliot's presence and confronts him, denying that she needs saving.