What kind of author works blue at a book talk at Politics and Prose? That would be porn star/memoirist Stormy Daniels, whose appearance Monday night at the dignified Washington establishment was a good bit more profane — and, judging from the crowd’s reaction, entertaining — than the usual highbrow literary fare.
The event had all the trappings that attendees of such gatherings are used to: neighborhood bookish types perched on folding chairs, an august moderator (Sally Quinn, the former Washington Post writer and noted Georgetown social doyenne), and a well-known author.
But the curses tumbling from Daniels’s lips clued attendees in that this was no ordinary Washington Book Thing, as did the pre-show announcement that she wouldn’t be sticking around to mingle or sign books afterward, as she had a pressing engagement — performing at a D.C. strip club.
In a rare public interview promoting her book, “Full Disclosure,” Daniels showed that she’s not just a provocateur capable of dominating cable news chyrons, nor an X-rated dancer who can take home wads of cash. She can elicit laughs, too, even when the material she’s working with is . . . uncomfortable.
“I went from singles to 20s,” she said of how breast-augmentation surgery helped her stripping career. Quinn helpfully noted that Daniels had named the newly plumped pair Thunder and Lightning. “And I thought ‘why didn’t I think of that?'” the moderator wondered.
“There’s a lot of paperwork — so much paperwork,” Daniels said of the downside of the porn industry, where she started as an actress and has become a director and producer.
“When the whole world has seen your [anatomy], you have to keep something for yourself,” she said on why she decided to disclose for the first time, in her book, her experience of being raped as a 9-year-old.
And in another are-we-really-in-Washington moment, Quinn — who planned to attend the strip show later in the evening — vouched for Daniels’s abilities: “I’ve watched Stormy’s porn, and it’s good,” she said. “She knows what she’s doing.” (For the record, Quinn’s son, Quinn Bradlee, was seated in the front row and looked completely unfazed by his mom’s endorsement.)
Although Daniels described her troubled childhood and the challenges of the porn world, the crowd was clearly there for the Trump dish. There were cheers when Quinn mentioned how Daniels had created a campaign-finance scandal for President Trump by alleging that she had a sexual encounter with him in 2006 and was later paid $130,000 for her silence about it.
And Daniels obliged, with more laugh lines, recalling how she met Trump at a golf tournament where her film company was sponsoring a hole. “Trust me, that’s not lost on me,” she deadpanned. The future president asked her to dinner, she said: “I was promised food, which I still haven’t gotten.”
Instead, they stayed in his hotel room, and the scene she described had the room groaning. “He was doing his best Burt Reynolds impression,” she said, evoking the image of a 1970s centerfold. “But with socks.”
Even the fallout from that fateful alleged encounter was fodder for more jokes. Daniels said she was surprised to hear that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had disclosed the existence of the payment. “I thought, ‘Great, not only do I look like a whore, I look like a cheap whore,’” she said.
The spat that publicly erupted this week between Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti? It’s apparently over, though she indicated that she had felt blindsided by his efforts to raise money online for her legal battles. “I hate finding [stuff] out on Twitter,” she said. Daniels demanded an accounting of how the money was being spent, and was apparently satisfied. “Sometimes people need a swift kick,” she said.
But for the ultimate proof that Daniels is no typical author on a Washington book tour, look no further than this: She has no problem uttering the phrase “I don’t know,” a string of words that are anathema in the glib world of talking heads. When Quinn pressed her on why she had slept with Trump, an encounter that she described as less than satisfying, Daniels threw up a white flag. “I have no idea,” she said. “I’ve been asked so many times that I’m like, ‘I should make up a cool answer,’ but I’ve got nothing."
After the session, Daniels’s massive bodyguards hustled her out to a waiting ride, and the crowd surged around Quinn. As weird as the scene was, there was something quintessentially Washington about two boldface names, both with a brand to promote, joining forces for one night.
As Quinn greeted admirers, her son shook his head. “I couldn’t have imagined that my mom would interview a porn star,” he marveled. “I mean, she took me to meet Nelson Mandela.”