I deserve the chance to defend myself and state all the facts. That’s why I chose to share what you are about to read.
My phone buzzed again and again with friends texting me the same message: “Happy Stormy Daniels Day!” It was two o’clock, and I had two hours before the city of West Hollywood was set to give me the key to the city at an outdoor ceremony on Santa Monica Boulevard. Mayor John Duran had proclaimed May 23 to be Stormy Daniels Day, and yes, it seemed just as surreal to me as it did to everyone else.
I texted each friend back, sipping a Red Bull. My gay dads, Keith and JD, know to keep the house stocked with energy drinks when I come stay with them in LA. And snacks. If you and l are going to be friends, we need an understanding that there must always be snacks involved. My two bodyguards, Brandon and Travis, pulled up to the house in an SUV. They have been at my side since the beginning of April, when the death threats against me and my family started ratcheting up, but I have never seen them nervous until that moment as they walked up to the house carrying a bag. I had given them a very important mission: go to Marciano to pick out a dress for me to wear to the ceremony. “I’m a small right now,” I had told them, “but keep in mind I have big boobs.”
To hedge their bets Brandon and Travis bought two dresses, in peach and black, and presented them to me for approval. I narrowed my eyes, because hazing the people I love is a favorite pastime, before saying quietly, “Guys, you did great! Bodyguards and stylists?” I went with the black one, a Capella cutout bandage dress which fit perfectly, and kept Thunder and Lightning, my nickname for my breasts, in check.
I think I put off buying a dress because I was so nervous about giving a speech. Because I am an adult film actress, director, and dancer, when I meet people they usually have some nagging question about what gives me the nerve to think I can do something. How do I do porn or take my clothes off onstage in clubs? Or take on the president of the United States? No, the thing that amazes me most about this past year is that I can speak in front of people. Because when I was a student at Scotlandville Magnet High School in my hometown of Baton Rouge, sure, I got straight As, but I always took a zero rather than talk in front of the class. My fear was so crippling, my voice so shaky, that I could not get out of my seat. The first time this happened was in ninth grade, an oral book report on Little Women. Of course, I read it, I read everything I could back then. And Jo March was the perfect character for me to talk about because, just like me, she wanted to be a writer. More than that, I identified with Jo’s frustration with what the world was ready to allow a girl to do. And no, I did not think she should have married old Professor Bhaer. (Sorry if that is a spoiler, but if you narrowed your next read down to this one or Little Women, you need to examine your life choices.)
But I couldn’t get my voice to come out. I took a straight-up F, and did so every time an assignment called for public speaking. I didn’t want people looking at me. Judging me. Which is exactly what has happened ever since March, when I gave 60 Minutes a free interview that was worth millions. it was important to me that I go to a reputable, impartial news source when I first set the record straight about Donald Trump’s personal attorney repeatedly trying to get me to lie about a sexual encounter I had with the president in 2006. The interview covered what happened in a hotel room, and later, when my life was threatened in a parking lot. But it wasn’t the full story, it didn’t cover the “why” of my decisions and the real, personal costs to me. I was starring in films I wrote and directed in L.A., then going home to my suburban life with my husband and seven-year-old daughter in Texas. It’s the life I dreamed of and worked hard to have, and I have to keep reminding myself that that life is over. For all I’ve lost, I deserve the chance to defend myself and state all the facts. That’s why I chose to share what you are about to read.
I’m also doing this for all the people who have come to see me dance in my shows, waiting in longer and longer lines to take a photo with me and share a moment. I have been dancing in clubs since I was seventeen. As my fan base grew over two decades of work in film and feature dancing, my demographic was usually middle-aged white men. Forty-five to sixty-five-year-old white dudes, Republicans, basically. I lost a lot of them, and that’s their choice. This is, after all, America.
They were replaced and outnumbered by people of color, gay men, and lots and lots of white women in their forties. These are people who have never come to strip clubs before, and there’s a learning curve to a strip club. My old crowd was well versed in the etiquette, thank you. If they specifically came to see me, it meant they were into adult entertainment, so they had likely been to a convention or at least seen another porn star at a strip club. They know how to act. They don’t take pictures during the show, and they definitely don’t grab me to tell me they love me. Because I’m in heels, and if a guy pulls me, I will fall. And a bouncer will throw him out, Roadhouse style.
If you’re familiar with the term “New Money,” you will understand the concept of New Strip Club Patron. And now my shows are full of them. The gay men seem to fall into two categories: the good-timers and the witnesses to history, and I love them both. I can’t tell you how many times men from the former group have told me, “This is the first time we ever paid to get into a strip club, that has a vagina.” A lot of them come with props for the meet-and-greet photos, like bags of Cheetos or a Make America Gay Again hat. The latter group of gay men is more emotional, and after the show they talk to me about feeling bullied by an administration that makes their marriages and freedoms seem less safe. Their fear is real, and when they confide in me, it comes from an authentic place. It was shared by my gay dads, the family I chose in my twenties when I gave up on my biological parents. Keith and JD were two of the only people who knew that I had a secret about Trump pre-election, and there was a time after the 2016 election when their concerns about their upcoming marriage turned into resentment of me for not coming forward and upending my life to save theirs.
I realized the women were coming out to see me when I started getting hurt Facebook messages from strangers some mornings after my shows. “We came to support you but they didn’t let us in!” Packs of single women were coming to the clubs in groups of four or five, only to be turned away by bouncers. Normally, a straight woman can only come in the club if she is escorted by a man, because it’s assumed that if she’s solo she is looking for a husband or a sale. Now, I make sure the club owner knows they have to let women in.
The women I see on the road have a lot of anger. Not at me, which I initially expected. I was worried I wouldn’t be safe anymore in clubs. No, they’re angry at Trump, who seems to be a standin for every man who’s ever bullied them. Nashville, Shreveport, Baltimore “You have to get him,” they say. “Get that orange turd.” Many of these women are quieter as they wait in line to talk to me, then grip my arm to tell me about someone they didn’t speak up for. A friend who killed herself after being raped. Or their own stories, feeling voiceless and unprotected. I stand there, a girl in a cute dress who just stripped onstage a few minutes before. These women transfer all the energy to me and leave feeling unburdened, but now it’s mine to carry.
They leave me with “You’re going to save the world.” In April, a woman at a meet-and-greet upgraded my job to saving the universe. No pressure. It’s these women who gut me, never the Twitter troll who calls me a slut or the guy in a crowd yelling “whore.” I sometimes think my job in porn prepared me for all this, because you can call me any name in the book and I’ve heard it from some other judgy loser. But nothing in my life prepared me for the confidences and hopes of people who come to see me. Even though it’s all positive energy, it’s still all pointing at me. The best way I can describe it is going to the beach and being in the sun all day. It’s great, but you feel sick when you get back to your room. In my case, it’s absorbing it all until it hits some limit I didn’t see coming, and I am suddenly on the floor of my hotel room, sobbing when no one can see me. I let myself feel it once, and then I get back up. I call it wringing out the sponge.
Besides, it was Stormy Daniels Day, and the hero had to show up and speak. Before I left, I FaceTimed with my daughter, who was home in Texas with the tutor we had to hire because it’s impossible to send her to school and shield her from what everyone is saying about her mother. She was at a zoo with her tutor, and for ten minutes, I stopped everything to hang on every brilliant word of a seven-year-old’s telling of her day’s adventure.
“I can’t wait to see you not digitally,” she said.
“I’ll see you Friday, baby,” I said. “How many sleeps is that?”
To avoid paparazzi taking pictures of our family, we’ve had to arrange meet-ups in other cities. People learned that if there was even a two day gap in my schedule, I would be home with my girl in Texas. They camped out at the house and the stable where we ride. This time we’d be going to Miami, where at least she could swim with dolphins.
“Mommy loves you,” I said.
And then my little traveling circus was off to the ceremony. When we got to Santa Monica Boulevard, there was a friends-and-family area inside Chi Chi LaRue’s store. Keith and JD were inside, greeting everyone, in total hosting mode for their daughter’s day. Mayor John Duran and Mayor Pro Tem John D’Amico arrived, followed by my lawyer, Michael Avenatti. As always, I smiled at how many people wanted a picture with him and how many people made excuses to touch his arm. An assistant to the mayor asked Michael if he’d like to speak, but you know how shy he is. Kidding, of course he said yes. As always, he offered to write my speech for me, and as always, I said no. Partly because I know it scares him, but mostly to make it mine.
A throng of people had shown up, and the floor-to-ceiling windows of the store gave it the feel of a fishbowl, with photographers and fans pressed against the roped-off speaking area outside. Brandon and Travis paced, already scoping for trouble in the crowd.
“You ready?” Michael asked me.
I nodded. The mayor, mayor pro tem, my gay dads, Michael, and my dragon bodyguards all crowded onto the tiny stage. “There’s one thing I can promise about Stormy Daniels,” Michael told the crowd. “And that is: She’s not packing up; she’s not going home. She will be in for the long fight, each and every day until it is concluded.”
John D’Amico handed me the key to the city, and the girl who took a zero rather than be judged just started talking. “So, I’m not really sure what the key opens,” I said. “I’m hoping it’s the wine cellar. But in all seriousness, the city of West Hollywood is a truly special place, very close to my heart.”
by Stormy Daniels
get it at Amazon.com