Who Is Stormy Daniels?
Stormy Daniels is a successful adult film actor, writer, and director. She was a Penthouse Pet of the Month in 2007 and also works as a stripper, a career she began at the age of 17. In addition to her adult oeuvre, Daniels has appeared in mainstream fare like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and a Maroon 5 music video. In 2018, she entered the national spotlight after news broke about her alleged affair with Donald Trump in 2006, which he has denied, and a subsequent payment she received in 2016, before the United States presidential election, for signing an agreement to not discuss her relationship with the then–presidential candidate.
FULL NAME: Stephanie Gregory Clifford
BORN: March 17, 1979
BIRTHPLACE: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
SPOUSES: Pat Myne (2003–2005), Mike Moz (2007–2009), Glendon Crain (2015–2018), Blade Barrett (2022–)
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Pisces
Stormy Daniels—whose real name is Stephanie Gregory Clifford—was born March 17, 1979, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Daniels’ parents, Sheila Gregory and Bill Gregory, divorced when she was a toddler. She was raised by her mother in Baton Rouge; her father had little involvement in her upbringing. Daniels was a member of the class of 1997 at Scotlandville Magnet High School. Although she was accepted by several colleges, she decided to become a stripper instead.
Career as a Stripper and Adult Film Actor
Daniels was 17 when she first started stripping. Already called Stormy in her daily life, it became her stage name; she sometimes went by Stormy Waters before taking inspiration from Jack Daniel’s whiskey to become Stormy Daniels. She worked her way up to headlining at strip clubs, then started working in pornography, too.
Since making her first pornographic film in 2002 (she appeared in a lesbian scene), Daniels has climbed to the pinnacle of the adult film industry. She’s been inducted into three halls of fame and received numerous awards. In addition to acting, she’s a successful writer and director in the genre. Among Daniels’ films are Good Will Humping and Space Nuts. She wrote, directed, and starred in the award-winning Wanted, a Western epic. And she brought her equine interests into Unbridled, a film about equestrian competitions that she acted in, wrote, and directed.
For years Daniels was a contract player with Wicked Pictures, a leading brand in adult entertainment. When she wanted to have a child, she coordinated with the studio to ensure that motherhood wouldn’t overly disrupt her career: Before getting pregnant, she made twice as many movies than usual, which ensured new releases would still arrive during her maternity leave. In January 2018, Daniels signed with Digital Playground, another well-known studio in the industry.
Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump Scandal
Daniels has alleged she had an affair with Trump after the two met at the American Century celebrity golf tournament in July 2006. That weekend, according to Daniels’ account, the two had consensual sex in Trump’s hotel room. Daniels has said they continued to keep in touch through 2007, in part because Trump had offered to have Daniels join him on NBC’s The Apprentice reality TV franchise (an appearance that did not happen). Trump, whose wife Melania had given birth to their son months before the alleged sexual encounter, has denied that any affair took place.
In 2011, Daniels spoke with a reporter about the alleged affair, though the interview remained unpublished until In Touch released it in 2018. In 2016, before the presidential election, Daniels was talking to media outlets, including ABC’s Good Morning America, about sharing her story. However, instead of coming forward, she decided to accept a $130,000 payment for signing an agreement not to discuss her relationship with Trump. The deal was finalized in October.
In January 2018, the Wall Street Journal published an article about this nondisclosure agreement and the alleged sexual encounter. After this, Daniels initially denied any such encounter with Trump had taken place, going so far as to sign a statement to this effect. However, she later maintained the alleged affair did, in fact, happen, and that she had been pressured to stay silent and hide the truth.
'In Touch' Interview
In 2011, Daniels spoke to Life & Style, a sister publication of In Touch, about her relationship with Trump. For this, she was promised a payment of $15,000. The publication also spoke to people connected to Daniels, who were able to confirm some of the details in her version of events. But before any article was published in 2011, Trump’s longtime attorney Michael Cohen reportedly threatened a lawsuit, and the story was dropped. Daniels did not receive the $15,000 payment.
After the 2018 Wall Street Journal story about the $130,000 payout to Daniels, In Touch published the 2011 interview. In it, Daniels says that Trump once told her she was beautiful and smart like his daughter Ivanka. Daniels also revealed that although she’d enjoyed talking to Trump, she hadn’t been physically attracted to him when she consented to have sex.
After the Wall Street Journal article, Daniels initially denied having an affair with Trump (Trump’s camp also strongly denied that there was any relationship between the two). But soon, Daniels began granting interviews, including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on January 30, 2018, after Trump’s State of the Union address.
In February, following the terms of the NDA, Cohen went to a private arbitrator to stop Daniels from speaking about her relationship with Trump; a temporary restraining order was granted. That month, Cohen also admitted he had made the $130,000 payment. He stated he’d used his own personal funds, and that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign had been involved.
On March 6, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti (who was not representing her when the NDA was signed in 2016) filed a lawsuit to have the NDA dismissed, as Trump had never signed the contract (the agreement uses the pseudonyms Peggy Peterson for Daniels and David Dennison for Trump, and there are places marked for Dennison to sign). The suit also stated that some of Cohen’s public statements violated the NDA.
In addition to arguing that Trump didn’t need to sign the NDA, Cohen’s side put forth that by accepting the payment and not contesting the contract for months, Daniels acknowledged its validity. On March 16, a suit was filed against Daniels calling for $20 million in damages for violating the NDA on multiple occasions (the penalty outlined in the agreement was for Daniels to pay $1 million for each breach). Trump joined the case.
On April 5, while aboard Air Force One, Trump told reporters he’d been unaware of the payment Cohen made to Daniels for signing the NDA and had no knowledge of where the money came from.
In September 2018, Trump filed paperwork in Central California federal court saying he would not attempt to enforce the NDA. Trump’s attorney asked a judge to dismiss Daniels’ suit because her claim for declaratory relief had become moot. In March 2019, a Los Angeles federal judge officially dismissed the lawsuit because Trump and Cohen had agreed not to enforce the NDA, according to court documents.
Also that fall, Cohen met legal trouble, partially on account of his payment to Daniels. In August, he pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court, including campaign finance violations for “intending to influence the 2016 presidential election” with the payment. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2018.
'60 Minutes' Interview
Daniels had an in-depth talk with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, which aired on March 25, 2018. In this interview, Daniels alleges that she was threatened in 2011, after she’d spoken to a reporter about the alleged affair with Trump. In Daniels’ account, she was with her baby daughter in Las Vegas when a man approached to say, “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,” before looking at her daughter and adding, “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”
During the interview, Cooper asked Daniels why she had publicly denied the affair. She answered that she had done so under pressure, saying she was told, “They can make your life hell in many different ways.” Daniels also explained that fears for her family’s safety and peace of mind had prompted her to sign the NDA in 2016. But she had now come forward because “I’m not O.K. with being made out to be a liar.”
New Suit Against Trump
After a California judge halted her lawsuit against Cohen for 90 days while a criminal investigation of him proceeded in New York, Daniels in April 2018 launched a new suit through her attorney, Avenatti, that charged President Trump with defamation.
The suit focused on the president’s attempts to discredit her account of being confronted in a parking lot, including his April 18 tweet that mocked the composite sketch of her alleged assailant as a “total con job.” According to Avenatti and Daniels, she suffered more than $75,000 in damages as a result of his actions.
“It was apparent that Mr. Trump meant to convey that Ms. Clifford is a liar, someone who should not be trusted, that her claims about the threatening encounter are false, and that she was falsely accusing the individual depicted in the sketch of committing a crime, where no crime had been committed,” the suit said. “Mr. Trump made his statement either knowing it was false, had serious doubts about the truth of his statement, or made the statement with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.”
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero dismissed the suit in California in October 2018 and ordered Daniels to reimburse Trump’s legal fees. According to ABC News, he said that Trump’s tweet “constitutes ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States.”
Daniels appealed, but a federal appeals court upheld the ruling in March 2022. Daniels was required to pay almost $300,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Career Post–Trump Scandal
Taking advantage of her moment in the spotlight, Daniels announced in June 2018 that she would be releasing a new perfume, called Truth. The gender-neutral fragrance would be distributed by the erotic novelty brand It’s the Bomb. It debuted in July 2018 and cost $64.99.
Daniels also increased her appearance fees for a national strip club tour. She defended this to Rolling Stone, saying, “We live in a capitalist society. I think if anyone, in any field, was approached and someone said, ‘Hi! You know that job you are already doing? Would you like to do it next week for quadruple your normal pay?’ Show me one person who would say no.”
Early in the morning of July 12, 2018, Daniels was arrested while performing at a strip club in Columbus, Ohio. According to state law, someone who regularly appears nude or seminude is prohibited from touching patrons on the grounds of a sexually oriented business. Daniels reportedly pulled customers to her exposed chest and then did the same to the detectives who approached her.
Daniels was charged with three misdemeanor counts of illegally touching a patron and released after posting a $6,054 bail. Meanwhile, her attorney, Avenatti, slammed the arrest of his client for “performing the same act she has performed across the nation at nearly a hundred strip clubs.” He vowed to fight the “bogus charges,” ultimately meeting little resistance on that front when the charges were dismissed later in the day of Daniels’ arrest.
In addition to adult entertainment, Daniels has briefly appeared in films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), and Pineapple Express (2008). Producer and director Judd Apatow has praised Daniels, telling Conan O’Brien, “She’s very nice and super smart and great to work with, so we just kept asking her to be in all of our movies.” Other credits include the television shows Party Down and Dirt, and a music video for Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call.”
U.S. Senate Run
In 2009, Daniels launched a committee to explore becoming a Senate candidate in her home state of Louisiana. Republican Senator David Vitter, a social conservative who’d been involved in the “D.C. Madam” prostitution scandal, was then running for re-election. Daniels took aim at her opponent with the campaign slogan “Screwing People Honestly.” (At the time, political consultants working with Daniels learned she had Trump’s name among her phone contacts, and she reportedly shared details about the alleged affair.)
In 2009, during this exploratory phase, Daniels was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge, which was later dropped. She ended her campaign in April 2010, blaming campaign expenses for her withdrawal. She also vowed to “keep fighting so that one day the voices of the dishwashers, cashiers, bus drivers, and porn stars will be heard just as loudly as those of the lawyer, the banker, and the insurance company executive.”
Daniels loved horses as a young girl and that affection has continued into her adult years. She owns several horses and is a nationally ranked equestrian.
As for her family life, Daniels is no longer in touch with her parents. She has married four times and has one child.
In 2003, Daniels wed Pat Myne, an adult film actor and director whose real name is Bartholomew Clifford; the couple divorced in 2005. Her second husband, Mike Moz (real name Mike Mosney), was listed in Daniels’ nondisclosure agreement as knowing about her alleged affair with Trump. The couple’s marriage lasted from 2007 to 2009.
In 2011, Daniels and her then-boyfriend Glendon Crain had a daughter together. Crain is a musician and fellow adult film star whose stage name is Brendan Miller. Daniels and Crain tied the knot in 2015, but he filed for divorce in July 2018.
Most recently, Daniels married Barrett Blade, whom she met in 1998. Blade is also in the adult entertainment industry, and his real name is Russell Barrett. The couple honeymooned in Mexico in October 2022, according to Blade’s Instagram.
Fact Check: We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us!
Tyler Piccotti joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had worked almost eight years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, an avid sports fan, a frequent moviegoer, and trivia buff.