Stormy Daniels' Transformation Is A Staggering Sight To See

The following article includes allegations of child abuse.

Stormy Daniels found herself at the center of a political tempest of epic proportions when Donald Trump was indicted on charges related to a payment she received from his ex-attorney, Michael Cohen. In every salacious story about that liaison, one of the first revelations about Daniels is her involvement in the adult entertainment industry. However, there are far more fascinating details about her transformation from a young woman figuring out her way in the world into a savvy, highly successful businesswoman capable of standing up to a man who once held the nation's most powerful office.

Long before Daniels became a key witness in Trump's hush money trial, she spoke out against another morally corrupt man. In a "Vlad TV" interview, Daniels revealed that she grew up in an unsafe neighborhood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When she was 9 years old, a male neighbor began sexually molesting her, something he was already doing to one of her friends. Daniels eventually told a guidance counselor, but her alleged abuser never faced any repercussions. "It's just another failure by the justice system," she said.

When Daniels was 4, her father walked out on her family, leaving her with a mother she described as neglectful. While her prospects looked grim, Daniels would find an escape from her dysfunctional home life and a means to build herself a better future.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Stormy Daniels turned to stripping to fund her pet horse

Stormy Daniels has owned several horses and even competed in eventing, a combination of show jumping, cross-country riding, and dressage. The equestrian told Heels Down that she became a horse girl at age 11 when she started accompanying a friend to her riding lessons. By age 12, Daniels was already the proud owner of her own steed. "My stepfather got a $500 bonus for work," she recalled. "He gave it to me to go Christmas shopping when he was drunk ... I used the $500 to buy a horse."

After becoming fed up with her mother's erratic behavior, she decided to move out when she was 17. Needing money to take care of her animal and herself, Daniels feared she would be forced to sell her beloved horse. "I happened to get lucky to meet a girl who was a stripper," she explained to Vlad TV. 

In her 2018 memoir, "Full Disclosure," Daniels recounted the fateful night she dropped by the ramshackle strip club where her acquaintance worked. Daniels still wasn't 18 and had no intention of stepping on stage, but the dancers working that night gave her a makeover and encouraged her to perform. "I was Cinderella, with the bluebirds and mice making my dress and fairy godmothers making me feel special," she wrote. Daniels was stunned when she made $85 for two dances in less than ten minutes — she'd found her answer for how she was going to keep her horse.

How she transitioned into becoming an adult film star

Stormy Daniels's real name is Stephanie Clifford, but Stormy isn't a stage name; she had already adopted the moniker before she started stripping. "I couldn't rule the world with a name like Stephanie. But Stormy ... that made more sense," she wrote in "Full Disclosure." She eventually scored a job at a swanky gentleman's club in Baton Rouge called the Gold Club. It's here where she made enough money to afford a boob job in 1999, with Daniels later telling Vogue that her 36DD implants increased her earnings exponentially.

Working at a nicer club introduced Daniels to the world of burlesque performing. "They got to wear beautiful costumes and put on these great shows, and that's what I wanted to do," she told Vlad TV. She worked her way up to becoming a traveling featured performer and befriended another headliner, who had a second job in the adult film industry. The friend invited Daniels to Los Angeles to join her on the set of one of her shoots, and Daniels caught the attention of Wicked Pictures director Brad Armstrong after she agreed to be an extra in the movie.

In "Full Disclosure," Daniels credits Armstrong with taking her under his wing and easing her into her new career. He also encouraged her to keep the name Stormy. "I went with it, and chose Daniels as a last name, a tribute to a Jack Daniel's ad I saw that called it 'a Southern favorite,'" she detailed.

She went mainstream and pranked Seth Rogen

Stormy Daniels's first heterosexual adult scene was with director Brad Armstrong, whom she had already slept with. "I stayed at his house and we dated for a year and a half," Daniels told Vlad TV. In her memoir, she recalled how Armstrong didn't believe her when she first told him that she could write a script for a movie, but when she proved him wrong, he purchased it for $700. In 2004, she began directing her own adult films as well.

Daniels had appeared in dozens of X-rated movies, and her experience helped her land a role in the 2005 Judd Apatow comedy, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Another adult film director informed Daniels the movie was holding auditions for "a stripper type," and after Daniels scored the role, she became fast friends with producer Shauna Robertson. Seth Rogen also appeared in the film, and one way Daniels proved herself worthy of joining Apatow's close-knit creative family was by agreeing to help Robertson prank the actor.

Daniels was tasked with acting like a crazed "Freaks and Geeks" fan, and she even had a fake Rogen tattoo drawn on one of her breasts. She remembered Robertson instructing her, "When you make him really uncomfortable, we want you to whip out your boob and ask, 'Do you like my tattoo?'" Footage of the interaction made the movie's DVD extras, and Daniels earned small roles in other Apatow projects. The comedic director even produced the 2024 "Stormy" documentary.

Daniels said her tryst with Donald Trump was terrible

In 2006, Stormy Daniels earned some major recognition for her work behind the scenes in the adult entertainment industry: Adult Video News Awards for best screenplay. But this was also the year that an alleged encounter with a future president would threaten to overshadow her achievements. In an InTouch interview — that was conducted in 2011 but remained unpublished until 2018 — Daniels claimed that she met Donald Trump at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament.

Trump invited her out to dinner, but according to Daniels, she didn't realize he meant they would be dining in his hotel room. The night began harmlessly enough, with the two engaging in a lengthy conversation about their careers. Daniels also boldly asked Trump about his hair. "He said that he thought that if he cut his hair or changed it, that he would lose his power and his wealth," she recalled. "And I laughed hysterically at him."

Upon returning from a quick trip to the bathroom, Daniels found Trump waiting for her in bed. "I was like, 'Ugh, here we go,'" she recalled. Daniels called sex with Trump "the worst 90 seconds of my life" during a 2019 appearance at a comedy club, per The Guardian. She remained in contact with Trump for a while, saying he dangled an appearance on "The Celebrity Apprentice" in front of her like an incorporeal orange carrot. However, she never had relations with him again.

She was allegedly threatened after becoming a mother

In 2009, Stormy Daniels considered running for Senate in Louisiana as a Republican. Then someone threw a Molotov cocktail at her campaign manager's empty car, causing it to go up in flames. "I wasn't so sure I wanted to continue if it meant my car could be next," Daniels wrote in "Full Disclosure." Just 48 hours after the explosion, Daniels was arrested after getting into an argument with her husband at the time, art director Mike Moz. After enduring so much turmoil, Daniels decided to drop her Senate bid and her husband.

Daniels began dating drummer Glendon Crain, and it didn't take him long to decide that he wanted to have a child with her. "If I let you get me pregnant, you have to do porn," she recalled telling him in her memoir. Ultimately, her desire to be a mother triumphed, with their daughter being born in 2011.

According to Daniels, she had her less-than-one-year-old baby girl in her arms when a man she didn't know approached her in Las Vegas. She had already sat down with InTouch to spill the sordid details of her alleged dalliance with Donald Trump, and this is what the man spoke to her about — in the most terrifying way possible. "[He] said to me, 'Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,'" she recounted in her "60 Minutes" interview. "And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, 'That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.'"

The hush money allegation and her Hollywood takeover

For a few years, Stormy Daniels enjoyed being known more for her work than her personal life. In 2016, The Cut profiled her after she won XBIZ Awards in the best director and best picture categories for her X-rated Western, "Wanted." Two years later, she became one of the most wanted women in Hollywood when The Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump's ex-attorney, Michael Cohen, had agreed to pay her $130,000 in 2016 to keep her lips sealed about her alleged affair with Trump. InTouch also capitalized on the media fiasco by finally publishing its 2011 interview with Daniels.

Daniels accepted an invitation to appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in January 2018, but she didn't say much about Trump — she didn't even confirm or deny if she had signed a nondisclosure agreement. In court documents, she would later argue that their existing NDA was invalid because Trump didn't sign it. When Daniels returned to "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" that October, she had released "Full Disclosure" and retold the Trump story on "60 Minutes." Using Jimmy Kimmel as a Trump stand-in, she demonstrated how she (allegedly) spanked Trump with a magazine. Luckily, she had a copy of her book with her to use in place of the periodical.

In 2018, Daniels also received the key to the city of West Hollywood, played herself in a star-studded "Saturday Night Live" sketch, and was deemed "the hero America needs" in a Rolling Stone profile.

Her arrest, divorce, and defamation suit loss

For Stormy Daniels, the year 2018 wasn't all fun and games and delighting Jimmy Kimmel by comparing Donald Trump's manhood to a mushroom. Daniels had taken advantage of the nation's sudden obsession with her by launching a "Make America Horny Again" tour. During a stop at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio, she was arrested after being accused of touching an undercover cop. Daniels went to court to argue that she was targeted for political reasons, and she settled a civil lawsuit against the city of Columbus for $450,000.

Daniels's husband also filed for divorce in 2018. In court documents obtained by The Daily Beast, Glendon Crain accused Daniels of infidelity and requested full custody of their daughter. He also wanted Daniels barred from allowing their daughter to be around other adult entertainment industry performers. In "Full Disclosure," Daniels detailed how she felt when her ex filed a restraining order against her and disappeared with their child. 

"Those terrifying days after Glen vanished with our daughter and threatened to keep her from me forever were the darkest days of my life," she wrote. Luckily, the parents were able to make amends for their daughter's sake and negotiate a joint custody arrangement. Daniels was also dealt a big financial blow in 2018 when her defamation suit against Trump was thrown out and she was ordered to pay his attorney's fees, which totaled over $290,000.

Michael Cohen's mea culpa to Daniels

When Michael Cohen was hit with a three-year prison sentence in 2018, one of his crimes was violating campaign finance laws when he orchestrated Stormy Daniels' hush money payment. Cohen and Daniels were once foes whose lives were both upended because of their associations with Donald Trump; Cohen went to jail for trying to help him, while Daniels became the target of angry MAGA supporters by speaking out against him. She also had powerful figures in the media, including Trump and Cohen, accusing her of being a liar.

Cohen got the chance to tell Daniels just how remorseful he was for his actions when she appeared on his "Mea Culpa" podcast in 2021. "I'm sorry for the needless pain that I put you through," he said. The two didn't just talk about Trump, though. But when Cohen asked Daniels about her foray into ghost hunting, she did joke, "I've seen Trump naked, nothing scares me anymore ... I've been face-to-face with evil in the most intimate way."

She revealed that what sparked her interest in the paranormal was moving into a New Orleans haunted house with a journalist, who was most likely Rolling Stone reporter Denver Nicks (he admitted to briefly dating Daniels after profiling her for the magazine). Daniels got emotional when she opened up about her love life being in shambles because of the incessant Trump drama, and in a surprisingly touching moment, Cohen assured her, "I think you will find somebody that will love you for who you are."

She got to promote her paranormal show in court

At first, attorney Michael Avenatti seemed like one of Stormy Daniels' fiercest defenders and someone who Donald Trump should have been afraid of. But in 2019, he was indicted for several crimes, including stealing $300,000 of Daniels's book advance. While representing himself in 2022, Avenatti tried to damage Daniels's credibility by grilling her about her belief in the paranormal. Rolling Stone pointed out that in doing so, he gave Daniels the opportunity to promote a ghost-hunting series she was shooting called "Spooky Babes."

On the stand, Daniels reinforced her previous claim that an evil entity had possessed her ex-boyfriend in 2019, causing him to try to strangle her. "I looked at him and there was no color or white in his eyes," she testified. Daniels detailed how she purportedly communicates with the dead and spoke about her spooky doll, Susan, whom she believes to be haunted. None of this spared Avenatti from being found guilty and slapped with a four-year prison sentence.

In 2021, Daniels told "Mystery Wire" that she was self-funding "Spooky Babes" and trying to find a distributor for the show. She explained that she and her team of paranormal investigators had visited several locales known for being hotspots for hauntings, including the Lizzie Borden house and the Vaile Mansion. Apparently, Susan enjoyed touring the latter. "We caught the doll moving on film, we caught the doll talking on film," Daniels insisted.

Daniels's sweet love story has a mystical twist

Stormy Daniels' relationship history is full of drama, but she eventually found some stability in the form of someone who knew her long before Donald Trump took a shine to her and sealed her fate. Speaking of fate, one of Daniels's many side gigs is performing oracle card readings. In a 2022 YouTube interview with Jeff Belanger, she revealed that she's among the many celebrities who practice witchcraft, and she said that she taught herself how to read oracle cards. 

The director also received an eerily accurate reading from an astrologer in 2022. "She told me in January that I was about to be reunited with my true love and in mid-May it was going to move to the next level ... let's just say I'm sitting next to that man right now as we head to celebrate something HUGE," she wrote on Instagram.

In other posts, Daniels revealed that her true love was another adult film star named Barrett Blade. They first met in 1998 at a bar in Baton Rouge. At the time, Blade was performing with a band. "A few years later, we were surprisingly reunited in the adult industry," she wrote. When they reconnected yet again, they discovered that they both share a fascination with the supernatural; Daniels told Distractify that her haunted doll Susan even served as one of her bridesmaids when she and Blade tied the knot in 2022.

The serendipitous timing of her documentary

Stormy Daniels has expressed regret over talking about her affair with Donald Trump, but now that the cat's out of the bag, she hasn't shied away from telling her truth. She described the intense fallout from her decision to speak out in the 2024 documentary, "Stormy," which she was shooting when the news broke of Trump's indictment on charges of falsifying business records related to her hush money payment. "Her life turned upside down all over again," director Sarah Gibson told Rolling Stone. In the Peacock documentary, Daniels speaks about receiving death threats and claims that someone shot one of her horses with a rubber bullet.

Daniels tweeted about popping champagne when Trump was indicted, but she actually had conflicting feelings about the news. "I thought that I would feel excited and vindicated, but it was kind of anti-climactic," she said on "Piers Morgan Uncensored." She explained that one reason she couldn't be elated was the dispiriting thought that Trump had managed to get elected to the presidency in the first place.

The adult film actor admitted to Vogue that she was worried about how Trump's hush money trial would impact her life. "We just bought this house. I don't want to have to move again," she said. But she didn't lose her resolve to testify against Trump — or her wicked sense of humor. "I've seen him naked," she joked to The Times. "He's never going to be scarier with his clothes on."