By Michael McDowell
Don’t call Stormy Daniels by her real name, Stephanie: the only people who call her that are the IRS and her mother, and she hates them both.
The Upper West Side, home to several of New York’s best comedy clubs, played host to an intimate evening with the aforementioned woman of many talents on Tuesday night, at Stand Up NY on 78th Street and Broadway.
Daniels, who is new to standup, was visibly nervous, at times easily holding the room with the studied, minxy persona of an adult film legend, at times exhibiting an almost adolescent-like stage fright.
“If I panic, and stick something in my mouth, it’s kind of my go-to,” she told the rowdy crowd. “Actually, my go-to normally is to pop a titty out on stage and touch myself,” she trilled, to howls of delight. “Excellent advice for new strippers in a strip club, sex offender charge for tonight.”
Daniels’ charisma is immediate; she’s sharp, savvy, and quick-witted, the friend you both fear and admire, the acquaintance you’re most keen to book for drinks. While her performance isn’t standup per se—it often veers much nearer to a one-woman show—and her set was uneven at best, Daniels is captivating, and for many in the audience, apparently something of a folk hero.
“I never said I was a comedian. I never wanted to do standup: clearly, I do my best work laying down,” she relished.
Her “crazy” stories are entertaining—“I was at a club called ‘Night Moves’ in Boise, Idaho…let that sink in…and while I was there they gave a girl on stage a cake for being two weeks sober off meth,” began one anecdote. But she finds her richest material in the quotidian rituals of nightlife — one particular kind of nightlife. By her own account, she’s been stripping for two decades, and has performed in, written, directed, and produced numerous adult films.
For example: were you aware, gentle reader, that strip clubs serve food?
It’s evident that Daniels is aware she often isn’t taken seriously—“they want to say I’m a stereotypical blonde idiot”—and she’s rightfully resentful. Stormy Daniels deserves better.
“I love to write. I don’t know if any of you read my book, but that was actually me,” she said. Daniels seems eager to transcend the unfortunate incident that has brought her seemingly unasked for fame, and which may come to define her life: her alleged relationship with President Donald Trump. Who among us has not, at one time or another, had a brief and regrettable relationship?
“The Trump thing was only going to be a page or two. How do you stretch 60 seconds into 60 minutes?” she minced.
After nearly half an hour, Daniels proceeded to answer questions which audience members had written on cards prior to the beginning of her set. Daniels is formidable on Twitter, and in this half of her performance she was at her best: saucy, clever, and surprisingly vulnerable.
Do you think you owe Melania an apology?
“I’ll apologize to her when she apologizes to the country.”
Is she a Republican or a Democrat?
How does she plan to talk to her children about sex?
“My daughter is eight. She knows there is stuff on television that is inappropriate. She also knows that I write, direct, and am an actress in movies that aren’t appropriate for kids. Someday, when she finds out what sex is, I’ll tell her that those inappropriate movies have sex in them, and, hopefully, she’s ok with that,” Daniels said.
After a beat of silence, cheers.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
“Dead,” she said, to gasps. “No!” the audience cried.
Only one question produced a rare miss. Have you ever had trouble having an orgasm, and do you have advice for people who do?
“Of course. Who hasn’t?” she began. “I guess the main thing is to be honest, and if all else fails, use your imagination.”
From a smart woman who has spent much of her life in adult entertainment, one might have hoped for a more interesting answer.
If Daniels wasn’t politically aware before she became a household name, she certainly has become so since.
Should Donald Trump be impeached?
“I think it’s unfair that the President of the United States is not held to the same rules, or whatever, that any other citizen would be,” she said. “Allowing someone to get away with things that are definitely illegal sets a very terrifying precedent for whomever comes into office after him. It’s basically a green light to do whatever the fuck you want.”
With that, Daniels left the stage, to applause.
“We love you, Stormy,” a woman said, softly.
Prior to her set, Daniels recorded an episode of the Dark Horse Podcast, which features untraditional entrepreneurs and which is produced by Dani Zoldan, who owns Stand Up NY.
At the bar, the Rag spoke with Remy Kassimir, a comedian who also hosts a podcast on orgasms, How Cum.
Kassimir was favorably impressed by Daniels.
“She’s a storyteller, and she’s smart, direct, and has something to say.”