Even though Stormy Daniels is at the center of one of the largest scandals to hit the White House in recent history, the adult film star says her bare-it-all show at the Admiral Theatre this weekend is, like the rest of her shows nationwide, not about politics.
Even if those in attendance are making it a political spectacle. The adult film star is seeing fewer porn fans and more people like women of varying ages and gay men at her shows since she spoke out against President Donald Trump.
“This didn’t start with a political agenda,” she told the Tribune on Saturday afternoon as she lounged on a seat of her tour bus in a parking lot in Rosemont. “I think it’s really funny that most people don’t even know that I’m Republican.
“They make it political in the same way that they have to put porn star in front of my name,” she added. “If I was a librarian, it wouldn’t be: Librarian Stormy Daniels.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Daniels, 39, who was winding up a three-night, five-show stand at the Admiral Theatre, talked about how her life has changed since her alleged affair with Trump became public, her life after legal battles and how in one breath she says she’s not interested in politics but joked, in front of a reporter, whether she ought to throw her hat in the ring.
Daniels also talked about her latest controversy: Her first Chicago show on Thursday, part of her “Make America Horny Again” national tour, was almost her last because the Admiral didn’t clear a Trump-related addition to the show and sold post-performance meet-and-greet tickets without her involvement.
Daniels said the first thing she saw when she walked into the theater was a little man dressed as Trump. But she wasn’t told about it, and her team eventually nixed it.
“They put a lot into the show and it was actually really well done and impressive,” Daniels said. But she’s not willing to take the risk of doing something onstage that could cause her to lose her lawsuit or get slapped with another one, she said.
She added: “And I don’t like surprises. My security team hates surprises.”
Daniels said, without fail, there’s usually one guy in line who looks aggressive and they have to kick them out — but that wasn’t a possibility with the pre-sold tickets.
“It just should have been discussed,” she said. “And then they wanted to take a percentage of it.
“I don’t start fights, but I finish them,” she added.
Admiral owner Nick Cecola said Saturday that these were both misunderstandings the two sides were able iron out.
In the last election, Daniels didn’t vote, she said. But she acknowledged her political views are changing, along with almost every other aspect of her life since she entered into an unprecedented political circus.
But, she said, she’d do it all over again — the same way.
“I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, which I believe, or if I’m just that … stubborn,” she said.
One of the biggest changes has been the demographics of her shows.
She’s noticed a diverse crowd: groups of women, folks of every color and lots of gay men.
“I understand how difficult it must be for them to brave going into that environment,” Daniels said. “First of all, alone, with a bunch of straight men who are all amped up, they could easily get (beaten up). And being hassled by girls all night that they’re not interested in — why would you go into that situation? That takes a tremendous amount of bravery.”
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, doesn’t deny all this publicity has helped her career.
“It’s boosted it, but mostly it’s changed it,” she said.
Daniels says she’s also learned the importance of following security rules the hard way. In the middle of a Bad Company and Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, when the lights came up, one person noticed her and asked for a photo. Then another. And another.
“My husband had the best analogy,” Daniels said. “Have you seen ‘Finding Nemo’? He was like, they were seagulls and you were the crab. Because it started and they were like, mine, mine, mine mine mine mine!”
She said her shirt was ripped, and they eventually had to watch from afar and left before the last number.
And, perhaps the biggest change: a national platform and a place in the daily news cycle.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to Daniels, sent before the 2016 election to keep Daniels from revealing an alleged sexual encounter. Daniels told In Touch Weekly she had sex with Trump after meeting him at a celebrity golf tournament, just months after his wife, Melania Trump, gave birth to their son Barron. Daniels, via her lawyer Michael Avenatti, has since launched lawsuits against Cohen and Trump.
“When someone’s like, ‘You’re speaking out for all women and you’re going to save the world’ — what do you mean?” Daniels said. She reiterated a point she made during a recent “60 Minutes” interview: that this isn’t her #MeToo moment. “I just wanted to stand up for myself, now I’m standing up for everyone. I guess there’s a reason for it.”
She said she thinks every day about the legacy she could leave for her daughter. She wants to inspire other people to stand up for other people, she said.
“What about the bigger picture?” she said.
The White House did not respond to Tribune requests for comment Saturday evening.
Daniels does not think she alone can shut down the Trump presidency.
“Do I have the power?” she asked. “Absolutely not.”
And then she added: “I think that they’ll be their own downfall if that happens.”
Daniels said she has no plans to run for office. It’s ridiculously expensive to run a campaign and the person best suited to represent the people probably would never get elected, she said.
But at the end of the interview, she said, “I don’t know, should I run for president?”
A laugh. And then: “The terrifying thing is I might win.”
Chicago Tribune’s Eseosa Olumhense contributed.
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