December 12, 2018

Stormy Daniels Trumps Trump in New Memoir

““Okay, so did you just skip to this chapter?” That’s how the adult-film actress and director Stormy Daniels starts Chapter 3 of her new memoir, Full Disclosure, a book rushed out at impressive speed since the story of Daniels’ 2006 sexual liaison with Donald Trump broke wide earlier this year. Chapter 3 will tell you more than you’d ever want to know about Trump’s low-energy sexual performance and low-end toiletries (“there was something so right and so wrong about a purported billionaire using a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner”). But the part that tells you what you really need to know about Daniels herself comes later, in Chapter 6, when she and her second husband, a rock drummer, decide to have a child together. She insists that before they do he must rack up at least a modest résumé as a porn performer. That way, “if we ever split up,” she explains, “you can’t use it against me in court.” Stormy Daniels is smart, and she plays the long game.

Daniels has garnered her share of hate mail and death threats since Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid her $130,000 to sign a nondisclosure agreement about their relationship, leading to an FBI raid on Cohen’s office and his conviction on eight counts of campaign finance violations, tax fraud, and bank fraud. But she’s also won herself over 800,000 Twitter followers and the kind of fans who usually don’t frequent the strip clubs where she performs on tour. Gay men, groups of single women in their 40s, people who urge her on in her very public struggles against Trump and his minions—these are the newly minted admirers who tell Stormy, “You’re going to save the world.”

Many an opinion writer has proclaimed Daniels a “feminist hero,” from Jill Filipovic in the New York Times to Sady Doyle in Elle, who marveled at the possibility that a “lone woman’s voice will bring down the Goliath of structural sexism that is the Trump administration.” As both Filipovic and Doyle have pointed out, Trump supporters often attempt to discredit Daniels by simply stating her profession. Republican lawmakers even tried to dismiss allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh because the woman making them is also a client of Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti, contemptuously referring to him as a “porn star lawyer” during last week’s hearings. Daniels, Filipovic wrote, is expected to curl up and die from the humiliation of all this name-calling. Instead, she shrugs it off, usually with a clever quip that makes her attacker look like an impotent cretin. No matter how often people try to cast her as Hester Prynne, she insists on playing another American archetype: the unflappable, wisecracking dame. Her Twitter feed is littered with deleted tweets she responded to so devastatingly that the trolls were the ones obliged to crawl away, licking their wounds and erasing their tracks. Sadly, you have to reverse-engineer most of her best jokes.”

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