Stormy Daniels performs in New York - but still refuses to spill the beans on Donald Trump

The celebrated adult actor received three times her usual fee

Andrew Buncombe
Melville, New York
Friday 23 February 2018 20:43
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Who is Stormy Daniels?

It was sixteen minutes past midnight when Stormy Daniels made her way to the neon-lit stage at a nightclub in Long Island.

She appeared wearing a Little Red Riding Hood costume, accompanied by the song Little Red Riding Hood. She quickly discarded the cape and changed the music to something a little racier - Still of the Night by Whitesnake. There were cheers and shouts as Ms Daniels went about her thing.

The 38-year-old adult film actor, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had come to New York to seize on the publicity generated by the revelation she may have had an affair with Donald Trump a decade ago, and the admission by the President’s personal lawyer that he paid her $130,000 on the eve of the 2016 presidential election in a settlement to keep her quiet.

Ms Daniels charged $20 for a selfie with her

During any other presidency, such revelations would have been huge, shuddering news - perhaps the trigger for an inquiry into whether campaign finances had been used incorrectly, and endless debate over if the presidency had been sullied by a campaign’s admission that it paid hush money to a porn star.

But as with so many aspects of the presidency of Donald Trump, things have not played out as they might otherwise have.

After the media followed up the Wall Street Journal’s scoop that the Trump campaign had made the payment, and after Ms Daniels appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live where she refused to confirm or deny the alleged 2006 affair, things seemed to go quiet.

Some days, Mr Trump’s possible relationship with a woman whose acting credits include 2007’s Good Will Humping, has been only the third or fourth most strange and jaw-dropping thing involving the President.

“There are so many scandals involving Trump that they seem to be cancelling each other out to some extent,” said Ronald Weitzer, a professor of sociology at George Washington University who has written about the sex industry.

Stormy Daniels obliquely denies having written statement on Trump affair

“If it were the Daniels (plus the other two scandals involving sex workers) incident alone, it would arguably have greater traction in both the media and public discourse. A second explanation, at least for Trump supporters, is that they may expect this kind of behaviour from him, as they already know about the Access Hollywood tape and past allegations of sexual harassment. So, such revelations have much less impact than if they were made about a non-scandal plagued political leader, such as President Obama.”

Ms Daniels is mining this for all she can get. Employing the skills befitting a striptease expert, she has been careful not to give too much away, too quickly. Too many interviews, too many admissions, and people would lose interest. She knows she must retain an element of mystery.

Meanwhile, her advertising slogan - “Make America Horny Again” - has been playing off Mr Trump’s campaign catchphrase and the announcer in Long Island said she had a “unique perspective” on the President.

“The general public understands opportunity, and how one seizes opportunity when given the opportunity,” said Brian Gross of California-based BSG Public Relations, who represents a number of adult film actors. “Daniels was and is a successful actress and director.”

The location for Mr Daniels’ latest show was Gossip, a “place for gentlemen” in Melville, about 35 miles from New York City.

The club said it paid Ms Daniels three times her usual fee (Andrew Buncombe )

The club bore an air of seedy melancholy; the bright lights and loud music unable to distract from the spectacle of young women - a number of them from Russia and Europe - taking turns to slide against a shiny steel pole or try to persuade men to buy them drinks or agree to a massage. A number of them look bored to death - their smiles stuck on by sheer perseverance.

Those dancers who pleased the crowd the most, were rewarded with dollar bills tucked inside suspenders belts or their underwear. At the end of each performance, a young man with a brush swept up the notes and stuffed them in an aluminium ice bucket.

For many hours on Thursday evening, the crowd was threadbare. While the club opened its doors at 7pm and advised people to expect a sell-out, for the first three hours, members of the media greatly outnumbered regular customers.

Among the crowd were a couple of Trump supporters from Connecticut, Jamie, a 47-year-old engineer, and Dawn, a receptionist. The couple, who asked to be identified by their first names, said they were on a date - an idea that Jamie had suggested and Dawn had agreed to out of “curiosity”.

Another customer, Michael, had driven from New York. The 38-year-old, who also asked to give just his first name, said he had seen some of Ms Daniels’ films and was interested to see her in person.

“I’ve read about all the stories and it’s only ten minutes from work,” he said.

Club owner Brian Rosenberg said he had been determined to book Ms Daniels for his club and had flown to the Adult Video News Awards in Las Vegas where she had received a prize. “I’m paying her three times what she normally gets,” he said.

One report suggested some of Mr Rosenberg’s 40 regular dancers were unhappy Ms Daniels was performing as it was taking away their tips. Mr Rosenberg rejected that, saying “good business” benefited everyone.

Yet what was striking was the generational gap between Ms Daniels and some of the younger dancers, several of whom performed stunts of such gymnastic dexterity and daring on the pole, that one feared for their safety. Ms Daniels did not attempt such endeavours.

One of the younger women, who said she was Russian, said she felt the woman who may or may not have had an affair with the man who now occupies the Oval Office was “from an earlier time”.

After the end of her first performance, Ms Daniels hawked merchandise and posed for photographs. Suddenly all business, she demanded $20 for a selfie and snapped at a bouncer who allowed someone to photograph her for free. She was also careful not to let anything slip when she answered a few questions from reporters.

What was it like to be in New York? “This is not the first time I’ve been here,” she said. But what was it like to be performing in New York after the revelations regarding Mr Trump? “Intense.”

Given that your publicist said you were “free to talk” after Mr Trump’s lawyer allegedly broke the terms of no-speaking deal by confirming its existence, what are you going to be talking about next? “Let’s wait and see.”

By now it was gone 1am. Ms Daniels was due to perform a second set in an hour. For The Independent, it was time to to make its excuses and leave.

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