Roger Stone has two very important speaking gigs in his future: one is in court over his alleged lying and witness tampering during the Mueller investigation.
The other is at a Richmond, Virginia strip club, where he’s scheduled to give a paid speech next month, despite opposition from local activists.
Stone has fallen on hard financial times since he was arrested on federal charges late last year. President Trump’s long-time political adviser is currently awaiting trial on several counts relating to his alleged communications with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. After pleading not guilty, he was let out on a $250,000 bond. That and lawyers’ fees have rendered him effectively bankrupt, he says.
On top of that, a judge forbade him from from discussing the case in public.
But he’s still talking, and still pulling in much-needed money from public appearances like his upcoming meet-and-greet at Paper Moon strip club in Richmond next month. Some local activists want to put an end to the appearance, citing a violent ultra-nationalist group that often acts as Stone’s security force, the Proud Boys.
Paper Moon projects director Mike Dickinson, who helped book Stone, said he’s not worried about violence at the event. “We have our own security, and Roger Stone’s a professional,” he told The Daily Beast.
Recently, Dickinson spent days fighting with the Twitter user @TheQueerCrimer, an anonymous Richmond anti-fascist who recently revealed a local police officer to be a white nationalist. The Twitter user is among a group of voices objecting to Stone’s appearance at the club. And although Dickinson recently said avoiding Stone’s talk was as easy as changing a television channel, these activists disagree.
“Bringing a fascist fuck magnet into my city is hardly comparable to television,” The Queer Crimer recently tweeted at Dickinson. “Your actions have consequences.”
The “fascist fuck magnet” attack was a reference to the Proud Boys, a far-right brawling group that Stone brings to his events. Stone has previously denied being an outright member in the group, although footage of him from a Proud Boys channel showed him participating in a low-level initiation rite. Stone did not return a request for comment.
Richmond appears to have its own Proud Boy presence. At a Richmond event by right-wing pundit last month, a man claimed to have stabbed three anti-fascists “in self-defense.” Proud Boys in the audience cheered and shouted one of the group’s slogans. The group glorifies fighting, and its founder described “kick[ing] the crap out of an antifa” as a requirement to become a “fourth degree” Proud Boy. (The group now claims they only fight in self defense.)
Dickinson said he connected with Stone through a mutual acquaintance he did not name. Stone has previously made a name for himself in the strip club world. In 2008, he famously went to a Miami strip club to meet a woman who gave him information about then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s patronage of sex workers. Stone is scheduled to appear at Paper Moon alongside Kristin Davis, the “Manhattan Madam” who ran an escort ring that Spitzer allegedly hired.
Stone has been a notorious political figure for decades ever since he did dirty tricks for Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign.
Dickinson is also familiar with controversy: In 2014, he falsely presented himself online as a congressional candidate, then offered a $100,000 bounty for revenge porn of a teenager from a viral hunting photo.
Though he told the The Daily Beast he’s a liberal, Dickinson said on a recent appearance on a conservative radio show he wanted to “deport” the anti-fascists who oppose Stone’s appearance.
The controversy over Stone’s appearance illustrates a running debate over the ethics of hosting people associated with violent actors or ideologies. Some on the left, including anti-fascists, oppose hosting these speakers, citing the damage of spreading far-right viewpoints or the extremist groups that sometimes accompany fringe figures to the speeches.
Others like Dickinson say they’ll host next to anyone.
“If Trump, himself, wanted to come down here, we’d welcome him,” he told The Daily Beast, although he drew a line when asked whether he’d host the late al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, for instance.
“Not someone that’s an international war criminal that’s blown people up. That’s terrible. Roger Stone has been accused of things. He hasn’t been convicted yet,” he said. “We wouldn’t host Bin Laden, we wouldn’t host Ted Bundy, although you can see now, look at all the stuff where everyone’s trying to capitalize on Ted Bundy these days. There’s a million documentaries on him. Netflix has one. People like controversial people.”
(Bundy, for what it’s worth, would probably not speak at Paper Moon. In the final days before his 1980 execution, the serial killer attempted to blame pornography for his many murders.)
The event will also be a much-needed financial line for Stone, who is currently crowdfunding his defense in the Mueller case. The Proud Boys have gone to work for Stone on the fundraising front, too, selling shirts that advertise his website.
Dickinson declined to say how much money Paper Moon is giving Stone.
“Let’s just say he’s getting paid a nice amount,” he said.