She also knows most readers are likely to skim the first 108 pages of her memoir that arrives on Tuesday. Despite vivid and often heartbreaking anecdotes from a nomadic childhood marked by abuse, neglect and a life-altering foray into stripping that started at age 17, Daniels is a pragmatist.
“My life is a lot more interesting than an encounter with Donald Trump,” she writes, at nearly the halfway point. “But I get it … So, let’s go back to July 13, 2006.”
That’s the day she met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe. That’s the night an awkward hookup would, 12 years later, morph into a political scandal, one involving hush money and NDAs and charges of campaign finance violations.
Chapter 3. When she arrives at Trump’s penthouse suite at the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino, Daniels writes, he is “wearing black silk pajamas and slippers.”
She is outraged by his Hugh Hefner routine.
“What are you doing,” I yelled. “Go put some f–ing clothes on.”
He does and their interpersonal dynamic is set: Trump tries hard to impress her and she is not impressed. She recalls the start of their conversation as drearily one-sided: “It was just one pretentious brag after another.”
She paints Trump as an insecure narcissist who drones on about magazine covers, wealth and a fame that skyrocketed after The Apprentice — again, not exactly breaking news.
This goes on for about 10 pages, until Daniels asks to use the restroom.
Inside this opulent lavatory, Trump’s toiletries amuse her to no end. She notes the gold tweezers and matching nail clipper, the bottles of Old Spice and Pert Plus.
“I laughed out loud,” she writes. “There was something so right and so wrong about a purported billionaire using a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner.”
The laughter stops when she returns to find Trump perched on the bed, trying to strike an Adonis pose, but looking more like the Pillsbury Doughboy in “white briefs, a white V-neck and socks.”
But instead of running away, Daniels inexplicably joins him in bed.
A strange fatalism had set in: “Put yourself in a bad situation, bad things happen.”
“It was an out-of-body experience,” she writes, before getting into what happens next, much of which can’t be reprinted in a family newspaper.
Perhaps feeling the need to give readers something fresh, something to justify a hardcover price of $36.50, Daniels falls back on what she knows best and gets graphic in a way she could not on 60 Minutes or The View.
She dishes on Trump’s lame pillow talk, on his aversion to foreplay, on his status as a “terrible kisser.” Then she makes a questionable statement: “The world is waiting to hear about his penis.”
If this is true, and if you are part of said world, skip straight to page 129.
Just don’t complain when descriptions such as “like a toadstool” or “the mushroom character in Mario Kart” make you lose your lunch. After Daniels belittles Trump’s anatomy (“smaller than average”), stamina (“the sex lasted two to three minutes”) and below-waist grooming (“Yeti pubes”), it’s hard to not pity the guy.
This is sex talk as payback.
That was the only time, Daniels writes, the two were physically intimate. But Trump continued to call, even giving her a sweet nickname: “Honey bunch.” He kept dangling a false promise to book her on The Apprentice. She claims he even openly conspired to plot ways she might cheat and stay on the reality show longer.
But she never did get on The Apprentice.
Then on July 29, 2007, Daniels accepted an invitation to meet Trump again, this time at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He ordered a steak dinner to the bungalow, so this time there was at least food. And much as today, Trump was keen to watch TV, though instead of Fox News, his guilty pleasure then was Shark Week.
“Then to make it crazier,” writes Daniels, “Hillary Clinton called.”
This might be the most intriguing Trump-related anecdote in the book.
At the time, Clinton was facing off with Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. And here she was, allegedly calling Trump for political advice.
“He had a whole conversation about the race, repeatedly mentioning ‘our plan,’” writes Daniels, without elaborating. “They also discussed a family trip they wanted to take together — something involving a ski area.”
After hanging up, Daniels writes, Trump said this about the woman he now disparages as Crooked Hillary: “I love her. She is so smart.”
To his supporters, that may well be the most offensive part in Full Disclosure.
But by Chapter 5, we are back to Daniels’ life beyond Trump: her relationships; the shambolic road trips with musicians and lovers; the grueling birth of her daughter; a lifetime love of horses; her work as a performer, writer and director in adult entertainment, a career that started 17 years ago at the age of 22.
The woman named Stephanie Ann at birth — “If you we should ever meet, call me Stormy,” she tells readers — is always transforming.
Ironically, the chapters are more poignant and compelling when Trump is MIA, when Daniels details her painful childhood with a cruel mother and father who all but vanished from her life after he relocated and remarried. Although Trump re-enters the narrative later on, those passages read like a forced coda.
Buying this book for new insights into the U.S. president is like trying to amplify your home audio system with empty soup cans: you will be disappointed.
But if you let Trump be the shiny lure and not the main catch, Full Disclosure will give you a new appreciation for a world few of us can fathom, and for what happens to an adult film star when her already crazy life is swallowed by a media circus.
Stormy Daniels is not the shameless opportunist her critics imagine. And she’s probably not the folk hero her new fans hope she can be.
She is a survivor and a fighter who can finally tell an old story in her way.
Vinay Menon is the Star’s pop culture columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @vinaymenon