Abcarian: The porn star with a well-deserved place in American history


Last week, after Stormy Daniels spent nearly eight hours over two days testifying in former President Trump’s hush money trial in New York, the time seemed right to crack open her memoir, “Full Disclosure.”

I had missed the book when it was published in 2018, but now that she has been a star witness in the first criminal trial of an American ex-president, a trial that has seen the introduction of the memorable phrase “orange turd,” I wanted to read her version of her relationship with the man who claims he barely knew her and certainly never had sex with her.

As you can imagine, Daniels, 45, who began her career as a stripper, has had a fascinating, tumultuous life. She is smart, bawdy and hilariously self aware.

For example, in 1999, while she was unconscious on the operating table, her plastic surgeon decided to dramatically increase the size of the breast implants they’d agreed on. When she awoke, she writes, she was shocked and angry. But not for long. Her breasts, which she calls Thunder and Lightning, have been integral to her success.

“It’s amazing,” she writes, “what blond hair and big boobs instantly do, by the way.” Noted.

By the age of 22, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, had become a successful adult film actor, writer and director.

She was so successful, in fact, that in 2009, she was recruited to run against then-Louisiana Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a family values crusader who was revealed to have ties to prostitutes. “My endgame,” she writes, “was to get someone more qualified to step up to the plate.” Her motto in that brief campaign: “Stormy Daniels: Screwing people honestly.”

She had small parts in the Judd Apatow movies “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” For a Maroon 5 music video, she chased Adam Levine in a sexy cop costume.

Apatow’s producer Shauna Robertson invited her to tag along on the sets of “Pineapple Express,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Superbad,” which is how she learned to make films.

After the hush money scandal broke in 2018, Seth Rogen told Ellen DeGeneres, “I’ve known Stormy Daniels a long time, and I’ll be honest, she may have mentioned this stuff around 10 years ago. At the time, when you asked a porn star who they’d been sleeping with, and the answer was Donald Trump, it was like the least surprising thing she could have said.”

The reason she agreed to have dinner with Trump on that fateful evening in 2006, at the urging of her publicist, was because she thought he might help her career. She’d been impressed when she met him earlier that day that he had looked at her face, not her breasts. He wanted to know all about the business aspects of the porn industry.

She spent three hours in his hotel penthouse, and she still seems mad that he never served dinner. “I am food motivated,” she testified.

I have no doubt that she is telling the truth about their sexual encounter, nor that she submitted to him without being physically forced to, in order to get it over with. There certainly was, as she testified, a “power imbalance.” He was almost 60; she was 27. His bodyguard was posted outside his door.

Nor do I doubt, as she testified, that she was shocked when she emerged from the bathroom to find him lying on the bed in his underwear, nor that her hands were shaking so badly afterward that she had trouble putting her shoes on.

And when it was over, I have no doubt that Trump actually said, as she writes, “Oh that was just great. We’re so good together honeybunch.” (I mean, who could make that up?)

Trump, then reality television’s biggest star thanks to “The Apprentice,” had dangled the possibility of her appearing on his show. He thought it would be a ratings boon to have a porn star as a contestant.

“You’d be fabulous on it,” she says he told her. “You’d be huge.”

That is the only reason she met him again in July 2007 in his bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, she writes, and took his many phone calls until January 2008 when it became clear that there was no way NBC was going to feature a porn star in its hit show.

I am not sure I fully understand why it was so important to put Daniels on the stand for hour after hour last week, and to focus so heavily on whether she and Trump actually had sex in 2006, which he denies.

Aren’t his denials, after all, transparently false? He’s a man who has bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it.” And he’s been found liable in a civil trial for what the judge called rape “as many people commonly understand the word.”

Anyway, the question in the hush money trial is not whether he actually had sex with Daniels. It’s whether he falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to Daniels for her silence during the 2016 election.

Of course he did. But only a jury can decide whether that was illegal.

That makes Stormy Daniels, however riveting her testimony, a sideshow at the trial.

Whether Trump is convicted or not, Daniels has secured her place in presidential history. Sideshows, after all, are often the most memorable part of the circus.

@robinkabcarian





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