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Column: Stormy Daniels is shameless and it’s wonderful

A woman with long blond hair talks into a microphone.
Stormy Daniels speaks during a 2018 ceremony in West Hollywood at which she received a key to the city.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)
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Happy Thursday. There are 179 days until the election, and we are jumping from dead dogs to dead worms.

As you’ve probably read, the New York Times reported Wednesday that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had a parasitic worm in his brain.

It was deceased, but what the heck?

That tidbit came straight from the man himself, drawn from a deposition he gave in divorce proceedings more than a decade ago — in which he apparently argued that his earning capacity was diminished because Wormy ate part of his cerebral matter, leaving him unable to pay as much alimony as his un-chomped brain would be able to afford. Quick, give that dude the nuclear codes!

I mean, it does explain a lot.

But also, the story segues so nicely into the topic of this newsletter: How far men will go to get out of lady troubles, and what that does to the ladies.

We’ll even include a JFK appearance.

So here we go on the Stormy Daniels affair.

Stormy Daniels takes a stand

Stormy Daniels testifies in Donald Trump's hush money trial.
Stormy Daniels testifies in Manhattan criminal court about her encounter with Donald Trump.
(Elizabeth Williams / Associated Press)
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Stormy Daniels has been in the spotlight — literally — since she started stripping in Louisiana at age 17 to pay the bills when her negligent mother kept disappearing. She was called as a prosecution witness Tuesday in the Donald Trump hush money trial, putting her on the global stage.

Folks, this is a woman who isn’t scared of a fight, and isn’t afraid to talk about sex — even if we are.

In a world where women are routinely expected to be ashamed about any public conversation of sex, whether it’s consensual or during an assault, Daniels didn’t avoid the nitty-gritty.

That included accounts of spanking Trump with a magazine, silky jammies (his) and her own ambivalence in the moment, all told in a rapid-fire, conversational tone while she looked right at the jury.

Daniels’ radical shamelessness is important because it upends the status quo that men have long depended on in sex-involved court cases — that the woman will be humbled, and that she can be torn down as weak or a liar because of the humiliation, guilt and stigma we expect her to feel.

“I was so proud of her,” Alana Evans told me on Wednesday.

Evans, an adult actress and president of the Adult Performance Artists Guild, is an acquaintance of Daniels.

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Daniels name-checked Evans from the stand Tuesday about a phone call between them while Daniels was in Trump’s hotel suite.

Evans was in Lake Tahoe at the same time as Daniels and Trump in 2006. Trump, Evans said, even got on the line during that call in an attempt to have her join them. Evans didn’t go.

“There was no doubt that it really happened,” Evans said. “I heard the man’s voice myself.”

Devil in the details

But even the judge in the case, Juan Merchan, bristled at hearing the specifics of Daniels’ Trumpian romp.

He called some of the finer points “better left unsaid,” claimed “the degree of detail we’re going into here is just unnecessary” and told lawyers that Daniels was “a little difficult to control.”

Damn straight she’s hard to control.

With decades of experience as a sex worker, Daniels doesn’t seem cowed by expectation or the squeamishness displayed by Merchan and others in the courtroom.

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“You could compare it to a doctor talking about surgery and arteries and blood and tissue,” Evans said. “These are things they see every day and it doesn’t affect them. You show that to someone else and they may pass out.”

Those details are also necessary, no matter how much they make Trump — or the judge — uncomfortable.

Because Trump denies having had sex with Daniels.

Daniels’ exhaustive account goes to the heart of her credibility. She describes the black and white tiles in the hotel suite; sitting at the dining room table for nearly two hours talking about the business of porn; the Old Spice and Pert Plus shampoo in Trump’s toiletry kit, which she rifled through when she used the bathroom.

She described how she came out of that bathroom and found Trump in his boxers, a “jump scare,” because she was not expecting him unclothed.

How she kind of checked out mentally and for a long time couldn’t remember how she ended up on the bed, but did recall that her hands were shaking when she got dressed and had to buckle the tiny straps of her gold heels.

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That kind of stuff is hard to make up, and harder to keep straight. All Daniels has on her side is the truth, the full truth, in all its salacious glory.

“When you are telling the truth, you can paint the complete picture,” Evans said. “Stormy sharing all of those details is how you really know Stormy is telling the truth because all those gaps are filled in.”

One of the prosecutors, Susan Hoffinger, made that point when arguing with the defense about how much Daniels should be allowed to say.

“[A]t the end of the day, your honor, this is what defendant was trying to hide,” Hoffinger said. “It is precisely what the defendant did not want to become public.”

Trump’s lawyers can argue those details are prejudicial. (They asked for a mistrial, arguing Daniels’ testimony would bias the jury against him. The judge denied that request.)

But in reality, “All these people who are freaking out over the details, they can’t handle the details,” Evans said.

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Sexual relations with that woman

And too often, men — presidents included — have relied on denials without substance, banking on that social discomfort to come out on top.

Remember when Bill Clinton tried that tactic with Monica Lewinsky, famously quipping “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” when in fact he did?

Then, it was the blue Gap dress with its semen stain that really did him in, a tangible bit of DNA evidence that couldn’t be denied. But as Lewinsky has talked about, that experience left her with decades of shame and pain.

Because ultimately she was the one we looked down on, even though Clinton was the one impeached.

Judith Campbell Exner, the Los Angeles socialite who was also JFK’s mistress, had the same experience after she was forced to testify in front of a congressional committee about her affair with Kennedy before and after he was elected president.

When she became pregnant, Kennedy arranged for her abortion, despite his staunch public Catholicism.

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But she paid the price with decades of scorn, she told my colleague Patt Morrison, and JFK went on to other affairs.

“People who loved Jack felt if they could degrade me, then he was just a bad boy,” she said. “On the other side, [Republicans] felt they could destroy Jack by destroying me, by making me as bad as possible.”

So to see Stormy Daniels rejecting the contempt piled on other women in her situation is wonderful — though she too said she felt the infamy of it all.

When asked who she had told about the sex, she said very few people.

“Because I felt ashamed that I didn’t stop it, that I didn’t say no. A lot of people would just assume — they would make jokes out of it. I didn’t think it was funny,” she said in court.

But why should she be disgraced with the dumb blond trope when it was Trump who had a wife at home, with their newborn son?

Why should she be apologetic for being a sex worker when she has built a business — acting, directing, producing, writing — that has made enough money for her to support herself and her family?

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Why should she accept being vilified, just because that makes people more comfortable?

Daniels is back on the stand Thursday, and I hope she remains shameless.

What else you should be reading

The Must Read: Gov. Gavin Newsom is working on a memoir as he builds his image beyond California
The Follow-up: But How Does the Worm Get in Your Brain?
The L.A. Times Special: Berkeley schools chief grilled by Congress on claims of rampant antisemitism in K-12 classrooms

Stay Golden,
Anita Chabria

P.S.: Kristi Noem is the gift that keeps on giving

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem shown in 2022.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

Now our puppy-killer is in damage control over claiming she met North Korean despot Kim Jong Un, an anecdote in her train wreck of a memoir that is apparently being removed — though she won’t quite admit it’s false. Here’s a clip.

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