Twitter went wild after former President Donald Trump posted to Truth Social that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday. (Surprise: It turned out to be false.) The potential indictment against Trump stemmed from a hush-money payoff to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. From the moment news of the alleged 2006 extramarital tryst between Trump and Stormy came to light, the public instantly formed their opinions and chose a side. You had those who were curious and believed in the possibility of truth beyond the gossip, while the other side of the grass was littered with Trump supporters who chose to believe the desperate words of denial from both the former president and his then-lawyer/fixer, Michael Cohen. As the story grew, I knew exactly which side of the lawn I was on. I had firsthand knowledge of that fateful night in Lake Tahoe, but the story was moving faster than even I could keep up with.
Lake Tahoe is a scenic, touristy town that isn’t exactly known for being popular among adult film stars. So it was the last place I expected to run into Stormy Daniels. I was tagging along as my friend (and fellow adult film star) Cindy Crawford was getting a tattoo at a tattoo parlor located in our hotel. While Cindy was having cherubs tattooed around her ankle, I stared out the window, taking in the view of the small-town street in front of me. To my surprise, Stormy was walking alone across the road. I stepped outside to call her over. She crossed the street and joined me in the parlor. She began to tell me about being in town for a popular charity golf tournament. The adult film company Stormy is contracted with, Wicked, had a booth there where some of the company’s contract stars handed out merch and posed with the golfers. One of these golfers just so happened to be the Apprentice star himself, Donald Trump.
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As Stormy and I caught up, she filled me in on the details of her first encounter with Trump, who she said had actually sought her out himself. She described the meeting in detail, acting out his mannerisms while we giggled and enjoyed the idea of Trump wishing to meet her over the other stars in the booth. Stormy mentioned she’d later be joining Trump for a party and said I should accompany her. I agreed as Cindy listened on in the background, still being tattooed.
I invited Stormy to join my friends and I for dinner in the upscale restaurant at the hotel. We spent an hour or so together at that dinner before Stormy left to prepare for the party with Trump. Cindy and I headed back to our room while our other friend went off to gamble. After a little time had passed, my phone began to chime with reminders of my waiting invitation. As each message came in, I grew more nervous and concerned. While I wanted to support my friend, I was nervous about what could happen. Too many movies taught me that sometimes bad things happen to girls like me when we get involved with men like Donald Trump. As enamored as I was with Stormy, one of the biggest stars in the industry at the time, I let the voice in my head talk me out of attending.
Stormy continued to text. The texts became phone calls, each more pressing than the last. After about five or six calls, one came in that was different from the others. This time at the other end of the line was not just my neighbor and friend, Stormy, but a voice I recognized all too easily: Donald Trump. As Stormy pressed me on when I was coming, Trump interrupted her, beckoning me to join them. At this moment, panic and shock took over. The man I grew up watching on television was saying my name and asking me to join them. I can still hear his voice in my head. It was at that moment I made a choice that would later change my life in ways I never expected: I chose to stay away.
I powered down my tiny cell phone and focused on my friend Cindy, who was angry that I wasn’t going, and that she wasn’t invited. I spent my night with my phone turned off hoping it would all just go away. When the morning came, so did the guilt. I felt bad that I had bailed on Stormy, knowing I’d have to apologize and own up to my disappearing act the night before. As soon as I turned on my phone, I texted Stormy to check in on her and see what had happened. Even though I didn’t want to go, I was still curious about how it all went down. This led to a number of sordid details, including how Trump chased her around his hotel room in his “tighty-whities.” That is a mental image I will never unsee. Even though Stormy and I remained friends, we never spoke about it again — that is, until Trump was sworn in as president.
A story that I used to only tell my closest friends for a laugh had turned into the biggest news in the world. I’ll never forget the day The Wall Street Journal called. I was asked about my involvement with Trump and Stormy in Tahoe, and if I could confirm the news about a payoff or an NDA. Before I knew it, details of my involvement spread from news agencies to social media outlets. I was watching news anchors read conversations between me and my friends, and was being portrayed in ways I was uncomfortable with: like a dumb blonde. It was time to make another choice. Stay quiet and hope for it to all go away, or share my story and the truth about what really happened. For months, while Stormy was under lockdown due to a restrictive NDA attached to the payoff, Michael Cohen said Trump “vehemently denies” it happened. The next thing you know, Cohen puts out a statement claiming that Stormy was also denying the allegations. (Trump later confessed to authorizing the payment via Cohen.) At this moment, I was the only person standing strong to our truth. Not only was Trump denying it, but it seemed so was my friend. Confusion became clarity as I realized what was happening: It was obvious Stormy was unable to discuss it. This is when our friendship changed, but not how you would expect.
As the press beat down our doors separately, Stormy and I were thrust into a situation where the number of people who we could trust was growing smaller by the hour. It was within Stormy that I found solace and strength. Once my side of the story hit, it wasn’t long before Stormy called. I was worried she was upset with me for talking about that night in Tahoe. To my relief, Stormy was supportive and thankful I was talking when she could not! It was frustrating to have performers in my industry attack me as if I was doing Stormy wrong, not knowing I was talking with her every day, sometimes for hours at a time. Her strength and fearless attitude helped me when comments turned to threats and chaos ensued. Everyone had their own narrative and ideas about what really happened, and they would tell us daily.
So here we are. Nearly seventeen years after Trump made his tiny mark on my life, we face a moment in history. A moment where a former president is predicting his own arrest after calling for the arrest of so many others. I think about what would have happened had I just stayed quiet. If I just hid in my room and ignored the world until it went away. If I just let everyone else, even my girl Stormy, pretend Tahoe never happened, where would we be? I am thankful I don’t have to ask those questions of myself.
As we continue to wait for the rumored indictment, some of us more than others, the slut-shaming slurs will circle around us until the dust settles. With Trump supporters growing angry, social media posts have shown more of the hateful, sexist rhetoric many like to throw in Stormy’s direction. It’s nothing she can’t handle, but it’s incredibly disappointing that not much has changed. Supporters claim an arrest would only make a martyr of the former president. It seems the true Joan of Arc is Stormy. Through every battle that has come her way, she has persevered. Stormy has helped the world see our performers as real people. Through Stormy’s fight, we have been given a platform to bring attention to our industry in a positive way. Stormy’s strength has encouraged many to follow through with their dreams and goals. She has helped remove some of the stigmas behind being a porn star, and I‘d like to think we have built on that in the eyes of the public, with her help.
If Trump is arrested and charged in relation to the infamous payoff, it will be the circle completing itself. People get hung up on the idea of a “porn star taking down the president.” We are often referred to as a lesser class, having our banking rights stolen from us, our social media accounts deleted as if our entire existence is an act of sexual solicitation, and are constantly chastised for our choice in career. Yet the tenacity of some porn stars could potentially save the world from “four more years” of Trump.
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