BACKLASH

Porn Industry Feels the Heat After Stormy Daniels-Trump: ‘This Is Not Helping’

The Stormy Daniels-Trump affair scandal has shined a spotlight on the adult-film industry—but not in a good way, say performers and publicists.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Money-grubbing whore. Liar. Now your daughter will know what a disgusting whore her mom is. Fraud.

When one is bombarded with threats, and not sure which are bluffs and which to take seriously, even a mundane task like grocery shopping can turn into a perilous excursion replete with bodyguards and special vehicles. Now imagine your job consists of meet-and-greets with strangers all over the country, advertising the dates and times of where you’ll be. And these days a paying consumer doesn’t mean a friendly one; some harassers are willing to pay for their moment—either by the minute or a cover charge.

Stormy Daniels’ alleged decade-old tryst with Donald Trump, former reality-TV star and current president, was no secret—but neither was it something that could potentially sink a presidency. When The Wall Street Journal broke the story in January that Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels hush money, things changed. Daniels was thrust into the spotlight, her life forever transformed.

“I have two choices. Sit home and feel sorry for myself, or make lemonade out of lemons,” Daniels told Rolling Stone in March.

With a career that spans decades, Daniels was already well-known—and not just for porn. She’d dabbled in mainstream cinema, working with celebrities like Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow on The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Yet the accusations that she’s “doing it for the publicity” or the money persist. Daniels has worked hard to rise to the top of a cutthroat industry—all while raising a young daughter—and now, instead of being celebrated for her own accomplishments, she’ll have to fight the stigma attached to being Trump’s purported paramour for the rest of her career.

What I struggle with is the new group of people who support us in the name of political convenience.
Brooklyn Chase, adult actress

With talk-show invites flooding in, everyone wants Daniels, but they only want to discuss one topic: Trump. They either want the NSFW details of the encounter, as in the case of Jimmy Kimmel and his prop carrots, or they try to paint her as someone doing it for the dough, not defending her rights.

Shortly after releasing a sketch of a man who allegedly threatened Daniels’ life if she spoke about Trump, Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, appeared on the popular daytime talk show The View for a live interview together. As Daniels told the panel of co-hosts, “I’m tired of being threatened… I’m done. I’m done being bullied.”

Though most of the women seemed supportive, co-host Meghan McCain parroted the sentiments of Daniels’ vicious online trolls.

“It seems like a publicity stunt… yes, I understand you’re being sued by the president but it does seem like you are benefiting a lot,” McCain told Daniels, further downplaying the gravity of her circumstances, as if being sued by the most powerful man in America is no big deal.

“This isn’t what I want to be known for,” explained Daniels, echoing what she told The Daily Beast. “I hid for quite a while... so yes, I am making more money but I’m also spending so much more. I have to hire bodyguards, special cars, and my daughter... we have to hire a tutor now.”

Daniels’ global recognition has shined a spotlight on the porn industry, with the premier XXX tube site Pornhub reporting that, in the immediate wake of the WSJ reveal, daily searches for “Stormy Daniels” ballooned from an average of 2,500 a day to over 2 million. Despite the increased exposure, however, her colleagues say that little has changed when it comes to perceptions of the adult industry—and some even believe the Trump-Stormy scandal has furthered the divide in how porn performers are seen.

“What I struggle with is the new group of people who support us in the name of political convenience,” says adult star Brooklyn Chase. “You can’t say that you support us and you want Ms. Daniels’ story to be heard, and then turn around and constantly remind the world that she’s a ‘porn star,’ as if to remind us how shameful it is to have slept with one of us.”

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It’s this kind of sugarcoated judgment that some porn stars are experiencing more regularly now since the Trump-Stormy story exploded. “People are blowing it out of proportion, making a point to say, ‘I don’t judge you or what you do for work.’ Then why tell me? If you have to say that then you are passing judgment,” says adult star Tana Lea.

Having worked PR in the adult-entertainment arena for over 10 years, The Rub PR’s Erika Icon respects what Stormy’s facing but also worries about the impact that its public perception has had on the prevailing stigma concerning porn. “This is not helping—along with August Ames killing herself, which was a horrible tragedy that was reported on by everyone in mainstream,” says Icon. “There have been many other things over the last six months or so, but I see it eroding or tarnishing our image even further.”

All things considered, adult performer Larkin Love feels the Trump-Stormy controversy may have very little impact on perceptions of the industry. “Given the stigma that surrounds the pornographic industry and its members, it serves as a point of interest to watch, but she hasn’t become an icon or figurehead that legitimizes our industry,” says Larkin. “Quite likely, it will just become yesterday’s news.”

For the adult industry, this will one day be swept under the rug; for Daniels, the impact might die down but her name will forever be associated with the controversy.