She strutted on the stage in kicks, the way a dancer does, in a red-sequined gown and blue-and-white top hemmed in stars. The harmonic chords of “American Woman,” the Lenny Kravitz cover, felt like kicking open a door at Denver’s Diamond Cabaret strip club Saturday night, when Stormy came to town.
The political gawkers looked just like the regular gawkers in the dimly lit club where strobe lights twirl from the ceiling. The place smelled of cigars and loneliness.
Stormy Daniels — who has been making a series of appearances around the country like the ones Friday and Saturday in Denver — is a big deal in the adult film industry and a bigger deal in Washington politics.
Daniels is suing President Donald Trump to get out of a non-disclosure agreement that barred her from talking about whether they had a fling in 2006. Weeks before the election two years ago, she took $130,000 from Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen not to say anything.
Trump doesn’t deny paying the money, but he denies having the affair.
The case potentially has Cohen in deep enough trouble that some believe he might start telling special prosecutor Robert Mueller some of Trump’s secrets, including whether anyone from the campaign colluded with Russians to meddle in the election.
“To catch us up: Stormy Daniels is the porn star that might save our republic,” Rolling Stone magazine wrote two weeks ago.
Her real name is Stephanie Clifford, a product of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She wanted to be a journalist in school.
Daniels didn’t need Trump to be rich or famous, but at 39 years old, the dusk for most careers that are based on getting naked, the extra bucks can’t hurt.
And in certain circles she’s been a star long before her name was attached to Trump. She has about 150 movies to her credit, and she’s a member of three pornography halls of fame. She joined the Adult Video News hall in 2014 alongside a star called Mr. Pete.
In one interview she said she wasn’t doing all this political stuff for the money, calling herself one of the most successful and enduring porn stars in the business.
On the other hand, her Crowd Justice website to help with her legal fees has topped a half-million bucks, and as of Saturday night 15,388 people had chipped in.
“I need funds to pay for: attorneys’ fees; out-of-pocket costs associated with the lawsuit, arbitration, and my right to speak openly; security expenses; and damages that may be awarded against me if I speak out and ultimately lose to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen,” Daniels says on the donations page.
Besides her national tour, she’s making movies, and she’s set to host the XBIZ Awards next January in Los Angeles. On May 23, she received a key to the city in West Hollywood, Calif., on what was declared Stormy Daniels Day.
In March, she told CNN, “Now, yes, I’m more in demand.”
Denver is one of eight cities she’ll dance in this month.
All the other dancers at the Diamond Cabaret — Pepper, C.J., Aspen, Taylor and blonde Dakota, among them — hustled off the four stages and out of the room before Daniels, the featured card, came out like a prizefighter.
Over four songs she stripped down to a tiny G-string. Bills poured onto the stage like a hail storm — flat bills, folded bills, wadded bills.
She raked piles of cash to the side of the 10- or 12-foot circle, about waist-high to the men and a lot of women gathered six-deep around it. There, a muscular male assistant in a tight shirt collected the bills in a laundry basket, as fast as he could through all four songs.
He covered the basket with her original costume, as she slipped on a negligee and slipped out from under the twirling lights. Her last number was “American Girl” by Tom Petty.
As a dancer, Daniels was middle of the pack among the others Saturday. She didn’t do badly. But in America celebrity trumps everything.