Book review: ‘Full Disclosure’ by Stormy Daniels

This is a tell-all memoir that justifies its title.
Last Updated 22 December 2018, 19:30 IST

Stormy Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, says it all on the last page of her book, Full Disclosure: “The whole reason for everything I had done – to protect my family – was suddenly blowing up in my face.”

A caveat: Do approach this book with an open mind. A non-judgemental empathetic approach would be appropriate.

Full Disclosure is the autobiography of Stormy Daniels — the adult filmstar-director-dancer who dared to sue US President Donald Trump earlier in March this year. And while the Trump-Daniels legal saga is too complicated to relate, it does denote the shameful tabloidisation of political life in America today. All through her involuntary media spotlight, Daniels has been reviled and praised in equal measure. Some term her a ‘greedy whore’ while others find her gutsy and honest. So the lady has done what she feels is best under the circumstances: “Here’s my story. It has the added benefit of being true.”

Through a book that starts off with a chapter on her deprived childhood, Stormy reveals, step by step, how a single sexual encounter in 2006 led to unexpected and unwanted spotlight, all because the other person in question was “a goofy reality TV star who now lives at 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue.”

There is no hate in her tone; just acceptance — of the difficult choices she had to make right from childhood, of being termed ‘white trash’ — by a school friend’s mother. And yet she seems to have sported a positive attitude to rise beyond her circumstances - helped by supportive friends, occasional attention from her distant father and kind stepmother; and later, love from an accepting musician. But primarily, Stormy comes across as a positive personality, self-aware, funny and warm, willing to do what it takes to survive, sharp, honest.

Chapter one reveals security till age four. Then — the engineer father’s departure from the marriage, an enraged mother who fell apart and never managed to get up again — it is a familiar but sombre story about a poor white family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Yet, spunky Stephanie survived to become a school topper, learn dance, have good friends, indulge in a passion for horses. She also endured continuous rape by a neighbour - at age nine. A self-absorbed mother led Stephanie to understand that she needed to fend for herself. And when the opportunity came, to earn money as a stripper, 17-year-old Stephanie took this route, earned her way to veterinary college.

College never happened but strip dancing led to a porn career. She became an adult film actor, writer (she was after all good with words), director, dancer. Her love for music and friendships with band members led to love and marriage with an understanding musician. But much before this happy marriage, pornstar Stormy had her 2006 encounter with a man who had no intention of becoming the country’s president. Interestingly, Stormy also reveals that Trump and Hillary Clinton seemed to be good phone friends.

The porn star revolted. She got herself a new lawyer, sued the president, spoke on TV revealing the threats to her life, the nondisclosure agreement she was forced to sign against hush payment.

And yet – “... despite everything I did to stay out of it, I ended up in the middle of one of the biggest political scandals in American history.” Her little family broke up.

Happily though, some Americans have rallied to support a lady who never wanted to be a pawn in the presidential shame game. And as Survivor Stormy notes finally: “...nothing lasts forever”.

(Published 22 December 2018, 19:30 IST)

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