The Stormy Daniels You Haven’t Heard Before

Like much of the world, I’ve been captivated by adult film actress turned director Stormy Daniels—but not for the usual reasons. Her encounter with former President Donald Trump is the least interesting thing about this otherwise brilliant, original, and deeply fascinating person whose single-minded pursuit to defend her dignity is mostly lost amid a rage of salacious headlines.

Daniels complicates the narrative about who is afforded rights and respect. She makes no apologies for who she is, while demanding her place in the public forum as an honest and decent person. She’s also unbelievably witty, and like Mae West before her, exposes the hypocrisy of our laws and mores by landing perfect one-liners on her critics. Four years after her unsuccessful lawsuit against Trump for defamation (see my February column), some of those laws are now working in her favor (see her former attorney Michael Avenatti’s conviction for stealing over $300,000 from her), but Daniels is still fighting for her place.

People generally aren’t interested in her outside of the infamous Trump scandal, and there’s very little written about her interests in and ideas about the thing she says she cares the most about: her work! But over the years, she’s left little breadcrumbs in interviews that I wanted to hear more about on sex work, feminism, porn, and identity. More than just her role in the biggest political story of the past decade, she’s a complex and thoughtful person. No doubt.

—Alexis Grenell

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Alexis Grenell: I’m so excited that you could make time for this because I’ve wanted to write about you for four years. There’s a lot out there, but there’s very little written about your work and your priorities. Even doing my research for this interview, I had to go through 11 pages of Google searches.

Stormy Daniels: Really?

AG: Yeah, to even get to your work. It’s so much.

SD: Trump.

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