#METOO

Trump’s Indecent Stormy Daniels Proposal Is All Too Common for Women in Porn

The future president allegedly dangled an appearance on his reality show in exchange for sex. Porn’s women are exploited by these empty promises of work all the time.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

“You shouldn’t be doing porn. Do you have any headshots? No? No problem. I’m in Beverly Hills, come to my office and we’ll get you hooked up,” says a man I’ve never met as he hands me an authentic-looking business card proclaiming him “Agent to the Stars.” His eyes never quite meet mine—I assume it’s because I’m naked.

His offer didn’t seem out of place; it’s a word-of-mouth business, one job leads to the next, and he was a sharply-dressed looky-loo visiting a porn set. It seemed legit to my 19-year-old self as I stood on the precipice of fame. Like most porn stars, I was eager to dip my toes into the mainstream pool and jumped at the opportunity.

His office was in Beverly Hills—or close enough, in my opinion—but shabbier than I’d expected. And cluttered. There were stacks of manuscripts, books and paperwork on his desk, on the floor next to his filing cabinet, and more stacked on his printer. I stood there awkwardly as he fussed about, moving a pile of things off one of the two guest chairs so I could sit. Autographed 8x10s and celebrity headshots lined the walls of his one-room office. I should’ve asked if they were clients but I didn’t. I was naïve and excited.

After two hours of chitchat, I left with a list of movies to watch (for homework) and a verbal agreement of representation. My new Hollywood agent said the best way to get booked on a mainstream gig was to meet the people that would be hiring me. We went to dinners, live theater and meet-and-greets, after which he’d insist we go back to his place. I always declined. It took almost two months before I realized there was no role and there would be no auditions. It was bait. When he dangled the carrot I didn’t see the string attached.

It was only after the offer of a mainstream gig, as she returned from the bathroom, that Trump was allegedly in bed waiting for her.

My experience isn’t all that unusual: porn stars frequently encounter bunk offers to do mainstream work in exchange for getting down and dirty. Music videos, commercials, a juicy role in a scene with a Hollywood A-lister—porn stars have to navigate empty offers as if they’re real because some of them it turns out are. There are outright propositions—have sex with me and I’ll get you that part you want—but most of the time it’s not that upfront. The #MeToo movement has helped women find strength in a collective voice against sexual misconduct, but for porn stars the progression lags. Porn stars continue to fight sex-worker stereotypes, i.e. they are for sex not the work.

According to Stormy Daniels’ recently released interview with InTouch, this was the approach that Donald Trump wanted to exploit. The carrot he dangled was an appearance on his reality TV show, The Celebrity Apprentice. Daniels recalls Trump saying to her, “People would think you’re just this idiot with blond hair and big boobs. You would be perfect for it because you’re such a smart businesswoman.”

Flattery used to cultivate hope all in the service of getting laid.

During their encounters, the prospect of her being on his show was the “the biggest, longest topic of conversation,” with the enticement entirely Trump’s idea. She held out hope, as Daniels admits this “was sort of what he tried to bait me with for an entire year.”

It was only after the offer of a mainstream gig, as she returned from the bathroom, that Trump was allegedly in bed waiting for her. “Trump was sitting on the bed and he was like, ‘Come here.’ And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go.’ And we started kissing,” recalls Daniels. “I actually don’t even know why I did it.”

Well, it was a top-rated show, and Daniels—like many performers—may have wanted a next step for her career.

Of course, it was an empty offer: Daniels never did get booked on Trump’s show. 

“I wouldn’t have to name any names, right?” asks Rahyndee James, considering which experiences to share while weighing the complexities of speaking up without damaging future opportunities for work. “I do get rappers trying to ‘hire’ me for music videos all the time but it’s always obvious they just want sex.”

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However, there was a time not too long ago when the propositions were less discernible for James, as she was still new to the adult business and hadn’t yet fielded so many phony offers.

“This guy was promising a role in his horror film in New York. I’d never been and I got so excited and really wanted to go. The more the director would call and text, the more unprofessional he became, calling me ‘baby’ and making it more personal. That should’ve been a red flag,” says James. “I was so inexperienced and didn’t know what to do. I was blinded by the lights of New York. When I got out there, he kept finessing it, putting things off, and by the second day I knew it was bullshit. He lied to get me out there to have sex with him. There was no movie.”

Despite some legit mainstream offers, Inna Innaki, the 2018 AVN Award nominee for Most Spectacular Boobs, discovered most of them were ploys to meet her in person—hoping that once she arrived more could be negotiated. “It was for a mainstream movie, an action-comedy, but when I got there it was all just one big lie!” she recalls. “There were three guys and one woman, I was told the video would be filmed in a hotel room, but when I got there and saw no crew, no cameras, no lights or microphones and/or anything you need for a big movie scene, I realized it was all just a lie!” 

It isn’t just the empty promises of mainstream work leading adult actresses on—there can be just as many problems when it’s a credible gig. Oftentimes to get the gig, porn stars are expected to put out. Some might not even consider the propositioning of a porn star sexual misconduct, given their day jobs. To the porn stars, however, it can be as devastating an attack on their creativity and confidence as any other aspiring show business performer.

“I was working with this producer-director who does thrillers and horror movies—he’s sort of a C-level player in Hollywood. He wanted to cast some of my clients in a few of his projects. When I first dealt with him, I introduced him to a female performer and a transgender performer. He seemed trustworthy when I met with him separately with both ladies. I gave him their contact info and let him deal with them directly,” recalls Erika Icon, publicist and owner of The Rub PR. “About a month later, both girls told me he had propositioned them for sex and it would be contingent on them getting cast. I confronted him on it and he denied trying to elicit sex from the transgender performer for a good fifteen minutes, but didn’t refute what he had done to the female performer.”

To protect her clients going forward, Icon handled the director herself. “After that he had to deal with me directly, and he had no contact info for my clients. One of my girls was cast in his thriller, in a small but pivotal role. Did I mention he tried to proposition and date me too? I’ve also had similar issues with other mainstream photographers, writer and directors,” remarks Icon. “They say the porn world is sleazy, but the mainstream world is the real underbelly of entertainment.”

As the #MeToo movement pushes back the stale, unspoken boundaries for a new generation of women, it’ll be interesting to see how it impacts an even more stigmatized group of women: sex workers.