Everything You Need to Know About Stormy Daniels


Long before Stormy Daniels was at the center of Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal trial in New York City, where she testified Tuesday, the porn star was leading a unique life in the spotlight.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is a 45-year-old Louisiana native who’s 32 years the junior of Trump, who turns 78 next month. The two infamously had an alleged affair during a celebrity golf tournament on the shores of Lake Tahoe in 2006, a year into Trump’s marriage with third wife Melania.

That alleged affair—and the hush-money the former president is accused of paying her to keep quiet—has turned Daniels into a household name in the United States. Here is a look at her life leading up to her testimony this week, including Hollywood acting and a (brief) foray into GOP politics.

How her stage name came to be

Daniels was just 17 when she began her adult-entertainment career as a stripper in her hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She said she was convinced to dance as a “guest performer” while visiting a club with friends in 1997, and got an itch for cash. She said she was raised by a single mother and had a poor upbringing, living with no electricity some days, and that she gravitated to dancing at the “Gold Club” because she was raking in dough at levels she didn’t believe were possible. She initially took on the stage name Stormy Waters, partially because of her love for the rock band Mötley Crüe, whose bassist, Nikki Sixx, had recently named his daughter Storm. Years later, she changed her pseudonymous last name to Daniels to honor Jack Daniel’s whiskey, she said.

Stormy Daniels in 2005.

Stormy Daniels in 2005.

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty

Break into porn industry

After years of dancing, Daniels began her porn career in 2002 with a “girl-on-girl” scene in the movie American Girls, Part 2. Her success in that role earned her a contract with Wicked Pictures, an industry giant during the 2000s. Once signed, Daniels began having sex with men onscreen in porn flicks whose titles parodied those of Hollywood blockbusters, including Revenge of the Dildos and Da Vagina Code. Daniels exploded in popularity, punctuated by her winning the “Best New Starlet Award” from Adult Video News in 2004, which Daniels said came as a surprise to her.

Going mainstream

Daniels’ reputation as one of the biggest U.S. porn stars thrusted her into raunchy roles in mainstream movies and TV. She appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin in 2005, in a scene where the main character—Steve Carell—watches her porno and tries to dream about her. In early 2007, a year after she claims to have slept with Trump in Tahoe, Daniels appeared on the FX Network show Dirt to play a stripper. Later that year, she was a pole dancer in the Maroon 5 music video Wake Up Call and gave a lap dance in the film Knocked Up, which featured Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann.

Stormy Daniels in 2006.

Stormy Daniels in 2006.

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty

The (alleged) affair

Despite her success as a stripper, actress, and porno director, Daniels will be remembered most for her alleged affair with Trump. She claims her sordid meetup with the former president—then a newly married business mogul whose youngest son, Barron, had just been born—took place on July 13, 2006. Details of the alleged affair remained largely under wraps for over a decade but re-emerged in 2018 after she publicly accused Trump of paying her $180,000—via his former fixer turned foe, Michael Cohen—to keep quiet about their time together at a celebrity golf tournament at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course. Trump has both vehemently denied the encounter with Daniels and suggested it indeed did occur, posting to Truth Social last year that the affair “happened a long time ago.” While there’s been conflicting statements on the affair itself, Trump has remained steadfast that his payment to her was personal and unrelated to an affair.

Foray into Republican politics

With her Trump connection still unknown to the public, Daniels made national political news in 2009 she when she flirted with a run for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana. She considered opposing David Vitter, a Republican who was linked to a D.C. prostitution ring in 2007. At the urging of fans who created a glowing website for her, Daniels switched her registration from Democratic and made serious her intentions to run—despite many characterizing her interest as being a gimmick. Daniels embarked a “listening tour” around Louisiana, where she heard from voters and railed against President Barack Obama’s economic and Middle East policies, claiming she’d work toward bringing troops home from Iraq. She didn’t shy away from her promiscuous past and present (she was still directing porn films) during her run, with her campaign slogan “Stormy Daniels: Screwing People Honestly.” Had she won, Daniels said she would have retired from the adult film industry. She ultimately scrapped her campaign in early 2010, however, saying she simply couldn’t afford to keep it up.

Stormy Daniels appeared at a news conference to tout the success of Restricted to Adults (RTA) website and other efforts by the adult film industry to protect children from inappropriate material held at the National Press Club, May 29, 2008.

Stormy Daniels at a 2008 news conference.

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty

A quartet of marriages

Daniels has been married four times. Her first marriage was in 2003 to Pat Myne, a fellow adult-film star, just as her career in the industry was taking off. The couple divorced after two years, and Daniels quickly remarried to Mike Moz, an art director, in 2007. By then, Daniels was well known as a porn star and actress, and gossip news outlets covered the couple’s slew of problems, which included allegations of domestic violence. They divorced in 2009 after Daniels filed a restraining order against Moz, alleging he attacked her and tried to steal her car, The Independent reported. Daniels remarried again in 2015 to the porn star Brendon Miller, and the couple welcomed Daniels’ only child, Caden Crain, into the world. They divorced in 2018 after Miller alleged that Daniels had cheated on him, The Guardian reported. Daniels fourth—and current—marriage began in December 2022, when she tied the knot with the adult-film actor Barrett Blade. Aside from announcing their marriage, Daniels has largely kept her current hubby out of the public eye.

Cashing in on the drama

Daniels has never hidden the fact that she loves making money, and that hasn’t changed since her infamy hit new heights with Trump’s presidency and affair scandal. Daniels, who once said she’s “smarter than your average stripper,” left her job as a porn director in 2018 and launched a “Make America Horny Again” tour where she paraded around the U.S. and sold tickets to those who wanted to see her perform inside strip clubs. She was given the key to the city of West Hollywood on a newly dubbed “Stormy Daniels Day” on May 23, 2018, and she was called upon to host the 2019 XBIZ Awards, which are essentially the porn industry’s version of the Academy Awards.

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