You’ve probably become pretty familiar with the name Stormy Daniels over the last few weeks, that is, if you weren’t already a fan of her work. Most recently, because the Trump administration is trying to prevent her interview with Anderson Cooper from airing on 60 Minutes. All the while, her lawyer is now suing the president, attempting to invalidate the non-disclosure agreement she signed during the election (for $130,000), which would give her the right to speak freely on her sexual relationship with Trump and share whatever she wants from their past communications. You’ve also likely heard about her Make America Horny Again Tour, her lucrative strip club roadshow, which Deja Vu in North Hollywood advertised with the slogan, “No Hush Money Required here. See the porn star worth $130,000 but will only cost you the price of admission.”
Daniels has fucked her way up to the top (of the news cycle, at least) in a way Lana Del Rey could only dream of, becoming an internationally known player in American politics through her direct opposition to the president and desire to reveal sensitive information about him (and most likely, how he fucks — with or without a rolled-up Forbes magazine with his face on the cover). She’s also at the top of porn again, with her popularity recently skyrocketing on PornHub (and a new contract with Digital Playground).
Yet, despite all of this new news, she’s actually no stranger to stardom, or at least, the public eye. Here then is everything about Stormy Daniels that has virtually nothing to do with Trump, her recent legal battles with him and that Forbes magazine-aided spanking…
1) She was born Stephanie Clifford on March 17, 1979 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 2007, she addressed the origin of her nomme de porn in the FAQ section of her former website: “While still in high school, I decided that I didn’t like my real name and that I wanted to have a cool nickname. I found out that my father had considered naming me ‘Stormy’ but that my mom’s wish to name me after her deceased brother won out. Another reason [for the name Stormy] is that because I am such a huge Mötley Crüe fan, I wanted my cool new nickname to have some connection to the band. I did not like any of their names, but the bassist Nikki Sixx has a son named Storm. Perfect. Besides, Stormy just kind of fits.”
2) At the onset of her career, Stormy Daniels went by “Stormy Waters,” but as the story goes, she saw an advertisement that coined Jack Daniels as “the best of the South,” and decided to change her name in order to pay homage to her Southern roots (keeping both her brand strong and her local fans locked).
3) In the same FAQ section of her old website, she also describes her type of man: “I hate arrogant men who brag about how much money they make or what kind of car they drive. I don’t like judgmental people or hypocrites, and I don’t date smokers or addicts of any kind. I do have a weakness for long hair, fit bodies and musicians.”
4) Originally a stripper, Daniels moonlighted in girl-girl porn starting in 2000. She began performing in boy-girl scenes in 2002, the same year she landed a contract with Wicked Pictures. (In between, she appeared in a 2001 episode of the classic HBO docu-series Real Sex called “Let It All Hang Out,” in which she was filmed competing in the Miss Nude Great Plains Contest.) Wicked, founded by Steve Orenstein, rivaled Vivid Entertainment as porn’s biggest studio throughout the 1990s and is best-known for its second-ever “Wicked Girl,” Jenna Jameson, who it signed in 1995. The contract starlets at Wicked all received “Wicked” nameplate necklaces, and together, they made Wicked a powerhouse during the pre-Internet golden age of DVD porn.
5) Daniels was exclusively signed to Wicked from 2002 until earlier this year. During the last few years, she’s served as one-third of Wicked’s holy trinity of superstars (Jessica Drake and Asa Akira constituting the other two-thirds).
6) At the beginning of her Wicked career, Daniels was marketed as “The Next Jenna Jameson,” arguably the most famous porn performer of all-time. However, given recent events, porn gossip columnist Mike South says Daniels has the opportunity to usurp her:
“I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have heard it, or been asked if I thought there would ever be another Jenna Jameson. Until very recently I would say yes there will be another, but not in the foreseeable future, it’s a long way off. But at that time I didn’t foresee the possibility that a well known pornchick was having an ongoing relationship with the future President of the United States. … Now Stormy is set to eclipse Jenna’s notoriety and claim the throne. While I would say that Ron Jeremy still has the most name recognition, Stormy Daniels is likely to replace him as the best known porn star.”
7) Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jameson doesn’t agree: “I actually think it’s career suicide. The left looks at her as a whore and just uses her to try to discredit the president. The right look at her like a treacherous rat. It’s a lose-lose. Should have kept her trap shut.” She also claims she could have had a similar opportunity, but the reality-star-cum-president only had business on his mind when their paths crossed:
8) Daniels was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame in 2014. She won numerous AVN Awards throughout the 2000s, including for “Best New Starlet,” “Contract Babe of the Year,” “Best Crossover Star” and “Best Supporting Actress” (for a movie called Camp Cuddly Pines Powertool Massacre, the first porn ever formatted and released on HD DVD).
9) Lately, though, she’s best known as porn auteur (pre-Trump, of course), having directed more than 70 movies. Two years ago, in fact, she won the “Director of the Year” award at XBIZ, another annual industry honors ceremony. The award inspired this interview with New York magazine, in which Daniels bemoaned her directorial talent having to be qualified by her gender:
“For years everyone was like, ‘Stormy Daniels, she’s the best female director.’ That’s always bugged me. What does my vagina have to do with directing?” she says. She’s all tousled blonde hair and a canyon of cleavage, curled up on a purple plush sofa 18 stories up at Las Vegas’s Hard Rock Hotel with Sin City splayed out behind her. “Why do I have to be the best female director? Why can’t I just be one of the best directors?”
10) Regarding that “Best Crossover Star” AVN Award, in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Steve Carell masturbates to a Stormy Daniels fantasy sequence in which his voice takes over her body. And in 2007, on Courtney Cox’s tabloid soap Dirt, Daniels played a stripper who lures a professional basketball player played by Rick Fox into an extramarital affair. She even brought her own strap-on to play-fuck Fox with. “We couldn’t show it, though, ’cause it was too phallic,” she told E! News at the time.
11) Another notable crossover turn — playing an Americana stripper in the video for Maroon 5’s “Wake up Call,” a song about cheating.
12) This isn’t her first brush with politics either. In 2009, political science students and Stormy superfans created a movement encouraging her to run for a Senate seat in her home state of Louisiana against Republican David Vitter, amid Vitter’s family values-centric redemption tour after he was exposed as one of the D.C. Madam’s many civic-minded clients. Daniels ran as a Democrat, but the party distanced themselves from her candidacy. She’d later state that Libertarianism better suited her values anyway.
13) Here’s a selection from the Draft Stormy mission statement: “We believe that the voters of Louisiana are ready for change and look forward to bringing honesty, integrity and strength of character back to the United States Senate.”
14) And here she is on FOX News, swearing her that her candidacy is much more than a publicity stunt:
15) As she told Marie Claire while contemplating a campaign, “I’m not one to judge someone’s sexual activity, but what annoys me is that [Vitter is] so hard-core values, and he puts his wife and kids out there, saying he’s a Christian family man. Then he’s caught up in a prostitution scandal. He’s a hypocrite.” Her platform, she promised, was grounded in transparency: “A sex tape of me isn’t going to pop up and shame me; there are 150 of them at the video store.”
16) Her proposed campaign slogan: “Stormy Daniels: Screwing People Honestly.”
17) At the time, one LSU political science professor told the local Times-Picayune paper, “If Jesse Ventura can win in Minnesota, why can’t she win in Louisiana?”
18) Daniels eventually dropped out of the race, but not before a bomb blew up her political advisor’s car. That’s right. A bomb. Luckily, he wasn’t harmed. Her decision not to run, though, ultimately came down to money — but not in the way you’d think:
“From the first minute that I set about exploring a potential candidacy for the U.S. Senate, I have talked about the need for a tax system that rewards instead of punishes hard work and enterprise. It is for this reason that over a year ago I called for the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service in favor of the Fair Tax. And yet, while many so-called conservatives like Senator Vitter have bent over backwards to pander to the burgeoning ranks of anti-tax conservatives and Tea Partiers, he has not once joined me in this call. Why?…I believe so strongly that the time has come to reform our tax system that I would be willing to consider overlooking Senator Vitter’s hypocrisy and support him if he would come around to the need for real tax reform including abolishing the IRS and implementing the Fair Tax. That goes for any other candidate in any other race….”
“And while I will not be participating in this campaign, I do not expect to go quietly into the good night. I will be looking for opportunities to fight for fairness for hardworking people everywhere. And I will continue to talk about the need for fiscal and personal responsibility. We will keep fighting so that one day the voices of the dishwashers, cashiers, bus drivers and porn stars will be heard just as loudly as those of the lawyer, the banker and the insurance company executive. This is my pledge. This is our fight.”
19) The person who might be most enjoying Daniels’ media moment is my friend Alexis Blair Penney, a writer, sex worker and cultural critic who frequently uses the hashtag #witnessAmerica. He describes her significance like so:
“Liberals and people on the left both say things suggesting how Trump’s association with porn stars is some seemingly obvious tarnish on his reputation and character and using her as sort of this boogey person — the immoral, dirty, desperate porn star trope. That’s hilarious considering it seems like he was the desperate one in this situation, based on what has come out. Besides, she has been pretty damn successful in her chosen field.
“Plus, we already know Trump is a steaming piece of shit, so why are we involving an innocent sex professional, a working mother at that, and leveraging our social hangups around sex and the sex industry to take pot shots at the admitted sexual predator? It just seems so typical of the way sex workers have long been demonized.
“As sex workers, though, we need to see this as an opportunity to speak and start making grabs for elected office. It’s going to be a hard row to hoe — haha — but if anything positive can come from this last election, it’s that literally anybody can reach elected office. Stormy Daniels probably isn’t going to be the biggest force for education or building awareness in our culture, but I do appreciate her for her realness. I love that she’s a professional and keeps emphasizing that she was, and is, very successful and was never after any more attention than was already being given her.
“I hope she laughs all the way to the fucking bank. We need someone to do for stripping and porn what RuPaul has done for drag. That sounds basic, but those drag girls get paid now. Let’s blow the whole thing open. Porn stars should be household names — there’s obviously a social need and interest!”
20) Where does Daniels go from here? Who knows, but as my colleague Nick Leftley can attest, she’s always been a tough competitor: “I met Stormy Daniels back in 2004, when I was a junior writer at the British edition of Maxim. An alarming amount of our content was reverse engineered from pun headline ideas, and once someone had pitched, ‘We Got Fisted By Porn Stars,’ it was only a matter of days before I found myself rolling around on a bed in a London hotel room with Stormy and Jessica Drake, as they took turns pounding the crap out of me with boxing gloves.
“Both of them seemed extremely enthusiastic about the shoot (‘Don’t hold back!’ the photographer kept insisting. ‘Really hit him!’), but I always remember that it was Stormy who wriggled behind me, wrapping her bare legs around my head and squeezing my neck between her thighs until I actually thought I was going to black out. Jessica punched harder, but Stormy, as per her moniker, played a hell of a lot rougher.”