Stormy Daniels whirls into Detroit

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Detroit — What would the father of our country have made of the undulating scene at a Detroit strip club Wednesday?

George Washington’s image adorned the dollar bills clinging to an adult film actress writhing on stage, the one who had allegedly slept with President Donald Trump.

That’s right, Stormy Daniels, the Stormy Daniels, was in Detroit.

Adult entertainer Stormy Daniels leaves the Detroit Police Department's 4th Precinct flanked by her body guards after applying for a cabaret license so she can perform at Truth nightclub on Wednesday night.

It’s not every day a purported slice of the American presidency sashays through a topless joint, and the curious came to bear witness.

They wanted to see the tempest in a teapot, the temptress in a T-shirt, the woman with a lot to say and more to show.

“I came to see what a $130,000 woman looks like,” said Bob Teall of Auburn Hills, referring to the amount Daniels allegedly received to keep quiet about the affair.

Daniels, 39, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sometimes dons Wonder Woman outfits, but no heroes lurk in this tawdry tale of the president and the porn star.

Adult entertainer Stormy Daniels arrives outside the Truth club in Detroit on Wednesday.

She claims to have slept with a married man twice her age in 2006, tried to sell the story to a gossip magazine in 2011 and, just before the 2016 presidential election, received $130,000 to keep quiet about it.

She now wants to break the agreement in a public campaign that has increased her visibility. Last month she was interviewed by “60 Minutes.” On Monday she attended a New York court hearing for Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen. On Tuesday she appeared on “The View.”

As her notoriety grows, so does her bank account. She signed a more lucrative deal to direct adult films and, as a stripper, her fee has doubled and appearances quadrupled, said Danny Capozzi, one of her booking agents.

“Her popularity as an entertainer has reached astronomical proportions,” said Capozzi.

Detroit is the latest stop of her national tour.

Political commentators say she is out-Trumping Trump, who has denied the affair.

American dream or nightmare, take your pick. Clifford said it’s a little of both.

“I’m getting more jobs but my expenses are higher. I need bodyguards,” she said.

The Truth nightclub sits along a gritty stretch of Eight Mile across from an 80-year-old auto factory.

It has two floors, three bars and 15,000 square feet of purple pulsating pulchritude. A 50-foot TV screen covers one wall.

Its menu touts New York strip, tempura lobster tail and jumbo shrimp cocktail.

The first of Clifford’s three shows Wednesday was a rare matinee, scheduled to nab people right after work. The cover was $20, double the usual amount.

About 100 men and a few women attended the daytime debauchery. They said they were drawn by the intoxicating brew of celebrity, sex and scandal.

“She’s a modern-day Monica Lewinsky,” said Lucas Kiel of Eastpointe. “If I could see Monica Lewinsky without her shirt on, I’d pay $20 for that.”

A gaggle of reporters assembled to record it all for posterity.

Donald Trump impersonator Don Rosso goofs around outside the Truth gentleman’s club in Detroit ahead of a planned appearance by adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The club may be named Truth but the press wasn’t there for such verities. The truth? They would have settled for someone’s last name. Most of the people interviewed — customers, dancers, staffers — didn’t want to be identified.

Dozens of women in various states of undress sauntered through the cavernous club, trying to snag one more lap dance before being eclipsed by the headliner.

The room was dark, the music throbbing, the air thick with anticipation.

The club declined to say how much Clifford was being paid, but couldn’t resist making a joke.

“She’s making a lot less than the president paid her,” said a manager, Rico, who declined to give his last name.

Finally, at 9 p.m., one hour late, it was time for the woman who has starred in 270 adult films, whose titles could describe the purported Trump liaison: “Dirty Deeds,” “Nothin’ but Trouble” and “The Price of Lust.”

Clifford, with long blond hair, strutted up and down the catwalk in platform heels, a black-and-white tuxedo-like outfit with sequins, complete with a top hat.

“Abracadabra,” by the Steve Miller Band, blared from giant speakers. Blue lights spun overhead.

The crowd was shy at first but, after several minutes, lined the stage.

The clothes quickly fell to the floor: a bustier, a skirt, a jacket, a bra. Replacing them were dollar bills the crowd affixed to various parts of her body.

The smiling Clifford removed an elderly man’s glasses before giving him a bear hug. The man looked dazed but happy.

She then doused herself with lotion from a plastic bottle and squirted it into the crowd. As she writhed on a blanket, the crowd threw dollars on her.

And then it was over. The whole thing lasted 16 minutes. “Hamilton,” it wasn’t.

“Is she coming back?” asked a confused customer.

During the performance, her assistant used a plastic bag to collect the money from the stage, which was littered with dollar bills and Washington’s faintly frowning image.

After the early-bird show, Clifford retreated to her dressing room to freshen up and emerged a few minutes later in the VIP lounge on the second floor. It was time to sell merchandise.

A fracas broke out when several men learned it would cost $100 to meet Clifford. John Higgins of Shelby Township said he thought the $20 cover included meeting the porn star.

“They’re out of their mind,” he said.

It wasn’t known whether the club or Clifford was responsible for the charge.

After Higgins and several other men objected, club general manager Joe Mooradian lowered the cost to $50.

“Don’t say anything,” he told the men. “I don’t want other people to know.”

On the second floor, a line of 40 men formed to meet Clifford as she stood near a black leather couch.

Among the items for sale were 8x10 glossy photos, DVDs of her movies, Team Stormy bumper stickers and T-shirts, including one that read “Don’t make me spank you.”

The going rate was $20. A twenty fetched an autographed item. For another twenty, you could pose with her for a photo, including provocative ones.

Clifford was all smiles. So were the men.

First in line was Don Rosso, a Trump impersonator from London, Ontario. He had hoped to perform with her onstage but she decided against it.

During the merchandise selling, he hoped to pose for a photo but she nixed that as well. For “legal reasons,” he said.

“Be nice to her,” he said. “She has a lot on her plate.”

The club’s regular dancers were less charitable.

They said Clifford’s act was dated, that they didn’t recognize the songs she danced to. In fact, most were from the 1980s, before they were born.

She barely used the pole, sniffed one dancer.

“She’s not a very good dancer,” said Sheila, who declined to give her last name.

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Twitter: @francisXdonnell