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THE TOLL

Stormy Daniels Would Like to Set the Record Straight

The porn star accusing President Trump (and his attorney) of paying her hush money and threatening her discusses why she’s not making nearly as much off of this as you think.

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Chris Farina/Getty

Stormy Daniels became a household name after reports emerged that she’d been paid $130,000 in “hush money” by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, just prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The Daily Beast had been in talks with Daniels about securing an interview to discuss the rumored Trump affair since early 2015, and broke the news that Trump had allegedly invited Daniels’ adult-actress pal, Alana Evans, to come over and party with him and Daniels in a hotel room. “All I’m going to say is: I ended up with Donald in his hotel room. Picture him chasing me around his hotel room in his tighty-whities,” Evans said Daniels told her.

The porn superstar/director has since come forward to claim that, back when they conducted their alleged affair in 2006 (mere months after first lady Melania Trump gave birth to her and Trump’s son, Barron), Trump dangled a spot on Celebrity Apprentice to Daniels in order to bed her, and that a mysterious man threatened her daughter if she spoke out about the tryst.

Over the past week, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti told the media that 60 Minutes had heavily edited their sit-down with his client, excising a detailed description of the president’s genitalia. He also tweeted a photo of Daniels with a forensic artist, as the two attempt to get to the bottom of who threatened her daughter, and filed a motion to depose President Trump. Trump, for his part, finally addressed the Daniels news this week, denying any knowledge of Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels.

Yes, my dance bookings are seeing a boost but that comes with extra costs.
Stormy Daniels

Daniels’ life has no doubt transformed since the Trump news broke. Internet searches have spiked, with Pornhub reporting that searches for “Stormy Daniels” went from an average of 2,500 a day to over 2 million. While those numbers represent the attention she’s earned, they are not indicative of the money many would expect to come with it—or the mental strain that’s accompanied it. With her increased global fame comes daily harassment from unhinged Trump supporters, as well as whispers about how she’s only doing it for the money, speaking out in order to rake in millions.

Adult performers are constantly getting screwed—and Daniels is no exception. She represents the upper echelon of adult entertainment, having starred in and/or directed hundreds of adult films over the last decade-plus, but even so, it’s still the porn companies who rake in the profits, not the performers. There are no royalties in porn.

While Daniels is on the frontlines, footing the bill emotionally and financially (like for additional security to fend off Trump fanatics), the porn companies are raking it in. Up until three months ago, she was a contract girl for Wicked Pictures, whose booth she was operating when she met Trump at that fateful golf tournament back in 2006; Daniels has since become a contract performer for Digital Playground.

“I see Wicked is capitalizing on the surge in interest. They ran a big ad in AVN, put out a comp ‘Stormy Trumps All,’ and held a contest the night of 60 Minutes, but it doesn’t financially impact me at all,” Daniels tells The Daily Beast. “I know I’ve also been No. 1 on most search sites but adult performers aren’t paid per view from that either…unless they produce their own content, which I never did due to contract stipulations. Yes, my dance bookings are seeing a boost but that comes with extra costs.”

While she’s probably earning a little more now for doing about the same amount of work, the added attention is unlikely to double or triple her annual income. And now she has to face brutal criticism and cyberbullying on unparalleled levels.

Maintaining a social media presence is key for adult performers, thus making the attacks unavoidable for Daniels no matter how bad it gets. Internet bullies are going after her with unabashed zeal—criticizing her looks, questioning her motives, and taunting her with unimaginable insults. On the surface, Daniels appears to be handling it all with an air of grace, firing back with witty comments and an endearing sense of humor. That doesn’t mean those atrocious comments don’t sting, but showing the bullies they have power would hurt even more.

Whether you admire or hate the porn star that’s taken on the president, it’s important to remember she’s human too. Daniels is a courageous woman trying to make the best of a bad situation, as well as a mother trying to set an example for her young daughter.

All eyes are now on Stormy Daniels as she prepares to face an expensive legal battle with the President of the United States—one she needs help preparing for. Daniels has turned to the crowdfunding site CrowdJustice to raise money for attorney’s fees, arbitration and security expenses, among other things. Daniels is very clear about where the money is and is not going. Donations will not go to her personally, but are in a trust controlled by attorneys—“in other words, I am not going to pocket any money,” she writes.

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On the site, Daniels says: “Rather than agree that the NDA is invalid, this allowing me to talk, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen have instead attempted to hide the facts from the public using a bogus arbitration proceeding and have threatened me with millions of dollars in damages ($1M each time I speak out) if I tell the truth about what happened.”

With the help of over 9,500 contributors, Daniels has managed to raise over $305,000 at time of writing—or an average of around $32 per contributor. A CrowdJustice spokesperson has called Daniels’ campaign “one of the most successful campaigns on the platform.”

“It has definitely surpassed anything I could have imagined. Some of the people that have reached out and offered support really touched me, from celebrities that I was surprised were willing to get involved to people who’ve approached me and told me their own stories,” Daniels tells The Daily Beast. “I was not prepared for all of it. It’s uplifting and humbling all at once.”

With only four days left to raise funds in order to bolster Daniels’ efforts to speak out, people continue to contribute, showing their support. One day Daniels hopes she can look back on all this and explain to her daughter how some things, no matter how painful, exhausting or expensive, are worth fighting for.