Stormy: A Sex Worker's Perspective & Review of the new Stormy Daniels Documentary

Anna R.
April 2, 2024

I recently watched the new Stormy Daniels documentary, “Stormy.” The documentary follows gay icon and Republican Stormy Daniels over a multi-year period as she navigates the events of the last six years after her affair with Donald Trump and subsequent hush funds were exposed to the public. The documentary shows the impacts of these events on her personal safety, income, familial relationships, and, interestingly enough, her relationship with the Republican Party as a registered member. Admittedly, I didn’t know as much about Stormy Daniels as I thought I did, and while I don’t agree with all of her politics, I am thankful to have heard her story. I find her story to be incredibly complex with moments of relatability, especially as someone who is also deeply tired of being reduced to just an adult entertainer, a "whore."

Throughout the documentary, we find out the events of the affair between Donald Trump and Daniels in 2006. And while Daniels maintains the affair was consensual, she also maintains she did not want to have sex with Donald Trump. While I have my own feelings about how those words play against each other, I think it’s important to honor and respect how women describe their experiences. Truthfully, there’s probably a reason she’s using the words she is. Between the legality of her NDA, the press, and the increasing violence against her and her family by MAGA Trump supporters, she has no choice but to be careful with her words. Unfortunately, sometimes getting to say the truth is a privilege. One that sex workers don’t always get. Sex workers don’t often get to label things as assaults or rapes because, too often, the implication is that we’re asking for it. That our very existence is a welcome invitation and an immediate yes.

Photo: Peacock

While it may seem Daniel’ has hit it big, pulling lucrative deals, well, you’d be wrong. Throughout the last six years, Daniels has been completely screwed over by her lawyer and the American court system. Daniels currently owes Trump over $600,000 in attorney fees. The judgment comes after a 2018 lawsuit in which Daniels sued Trump based on a tweet Trump wrote that year suggesting that she has been lying about being threatened in 2011 to not speak about their affair. We also learn that Daniels' previous lawyer stole advances from her book deal as well as other funds. The culmination of these events leaves Daniels in jeopardy of losing her home.

Additionally, throughout the years, threats against Daniels and her family have become increasingly violent. There were multiple moments throughout the film where we witness the hate and violence Daniels is dealing with in the digital and virtual world. Perhaps most alarming were the moments when MAGA supporters followed her and her child, attempting to take pictures of her child, and other moments involving a MAGA supporter shooting her horse with rubber bullets in an attempt to lure her out of her home.

While traveling to Canada in 2019 during a tour, a Canadian border patrol flagged her passport for an extreme amount of assault charges. The charges were coming up through the FBI border patrol system. While all the details are murky, it’s suspected that someone with FBI clearance falsified assault charges on her record, making it impossible for her to travel internationally. Which subsequently further impacted her income. While it’s not clear what or how this could happen, I do think it’s obvious that there are major implications of speaking against Donald Trump. If these levels of charges can be falsified, what else can be? It also makes me wonder about why sex workers always seem to be the testing subjects for extreme policing or censorship methods, from age verification laws to FOSTA/SESTA.

Photo: Peacock, Daniels on SNL

What I found most compelling was the complexity of Daniels. How does a registered Republican become deeply admired as a gay icon while mutinously facing death threats from her own party? At one point in the documentary, she talks about how it felt to be seen as somewhat of a feminist icon, gaining support and traction from women, only to have that support rescinded when her legal battles against Trump became too big. The argument from some is, if we financially support you, and you are now on the hook for Trump’s legal fees, aren’t we just supporting Trump? It’s like we went so far back around only to come back to where we began. I think so much of social media enables us to continue to build people up, only to wait for them to fall, to flake when the least bit of opposition comes. We assign parasocial relationships to people and expect them to continue to meet all of those expectations that we placed on them.

There were multiple points throughout the documentary where Stormy talked about the complexity and often exhausting nature of being a sex worker. The public is so quick to reduce sex workers to being just sex workers, hopelessly downtrodden whores, pushing their own perceptions onto us. While I don't have the same experiences, public visibility, or scrutiny as Stormy (obviously), I can more than relate to the frustration of having all your other triumphs be overlooked because people refuse to see you as more than just a whore. They refuse to let you be bigger than that; they want to keep you in whatever purgatory box they perceive you to be in, denying you the full extent of your personhood.

What makes moments like this extra difficult is the frustration that can come with wanting more. Seeing Daniels balance wanting to be seen for all her accomplishments while also holding space for her identity as a sex worker reminded me too much of my own experiences. Being able to say “I want to be more than what you have reduced me to, but I also want you to acknowledge this part of me, and I want to pay homage to that part of my identity” is actually much harder than you might think. Like Stormy, I want to be more; I want to be more than just a sex worker, but I also want that tender part of my identity uplifted. Sometimes, it just feels like there’s no winning, once a whore, always a whore.

The justice system has failed Stormy Daniels. We have failed Stormy Daniels. She did everything she should have; she checked all the boxes. She kept quiet about the scandal for years; she kept quiet after the threats; she went through all the proper legal channels, and yet here she is, on the hook for $600,000 and facing harassment and death threats. A woman reduced to one non-consensual moment in her life. Where is the fairness in that? However you may feel about Stormy Daniels as a person is your opinion, but no one deserves to be assaulted, sent countless death threats, face economic punishment, and be the continuous punching bag for a literal fascist. Why is she still left holding the bag?

I am deeply fearful for the safety of Daniels. MAGA Trumpsters can be relentless; they escalate at the highest level. I do, unfortunately think things will intensify as the election cycle continues. I hope for her that she can find rest and peace. I highly suggest watching “Stormy”; I can feel all the love, rage, pain, and determination Stormy Daniels has put into this documentary. I’m incredibly happy to have heard her story and truly believe more people need to be listening because this is just the start.