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Stormy at the strip club: A porn star cashes in on presidential connection

LUIS SANTANA | Times Adult film star Stormy Daniels appears at Thee Dollhouse (cq) in Tampa where she will perform several shows over the weekend as part of her "Make America Horny Again" tour. [Friday February 16, 2018] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
Published Feb. 17, 2018

TAMPA — In the center of the nightclub, between the cigar case and bustling bar, a giant screen blankets the back wall. Usually, ads for drink specials and coming attractions scroll across.

But Friday night, a life-size picture of President Donald Trump peered at the stripper pole.

Then there he was, puckering beside a porn star. In another shot, he's squeezing the blonde's shoulders, beaming at her big boobs. She looks bored.

"Stormy Daniels," read a huge headline. "Make America Horny Again."

Shows at Thee Dollhouse typically start after midnight, but the owner had scheduled an early-bird performance, so young professionals could come right after work. So retirees could enjoy a lap dance before bed.

"As soon as I saw the news, I knew this was going to blow up," said Warren Collazo, co-owner of the Tampa strip club. "Stormy was here three years ago, she used to live here, she's a great girl who's had a great career. Why not jump on that bandwagon? So I called her agent and said: 'Let's get her booked. I'll get some hats made.'?"

Most of the 70 people at the matinee didn't know Stormy Daniels' real name is Stephanie Gregory Clifford. That she's 38 years old, 36DD and raising a young daughter. They didn't care that she has starred in more than 150 adult films like Good Will Humping and Porking with Pride, had won dozens of porn awards, had a cameo in The 40-year-old Virgin.

They had never heard of her until last month, when news broke that the president's lawyer had paid her $130,000, reportedly so she'd keep quiet about meeting Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006 and having "textbook generic" sex with him — while Trump's wife was caring for their infant son.

They just wanted to watch the president's alleged mistress crawl across the stage in a G-string.

"Get your dollar bills ready!" the DJ shouted at 6:15 p.m. "We've got the first lady of the United States right here tonight. She'll give you a lap dance just like she did the president."

A North Dakota man and his brother-in-law, who were staying at the Ramada next door, had seen the marquee and ditched their wives. "We couldn't miss this." A bartender and his pal had read about the show in the newspaper. "My girlfriend wants me to send her a selfie with Stormy." A lesbian couple who hates Trump, who had gone to Washington, D.C., for the women's march, who had never been to a strip club, came because "this is just so bizarre, we couldn't resist."

Mike Remmert, 74, voted for Trump, "because he's not a politician." He didn't care if the president had sex with the porn star. "More power to him if he did!"

Remmert has been a regular at Thee Dollhouse for more than a decade. Dancers call him "the Candyman," because he brings them bags of Starlight mints. He lives alone, works at Walmart, saves his paychecks for Crown Royal and Cokes and cover charges. He paid $20 to get in Friday, $80 more for four red mesh ballcaps: "Making the Dollhouse Great Again." He pulled one over his sparse white hair and gave the others to his favorite girls.

"I knew Stormy before all this stuff broke," he said proudly. "I met her here years ago. She signed a picture for me." He had bought a couple of her DVDs that night but said he never watched them.

He wanted to ask if she remembered him. He wanted to tell her a joke.

"We're just three songs away from the main event," the DJ called at 6:40 p.m. "Get ready to welcome the most famous woman on the planet."

Stormy was supposed to give interviews, talk to reporters in her dressing room, pose for pictures. But 40 minutes after she was scheduled to go on, the club manager said she was refusing to take any questions or even address the audience. And she was banning photographs.

The TV news crew left.

"I'm embarrassed. Very disappointed. Angry," said the owner, who was paying her $1,000 per show. "If I had known she was going to shut everyone out, I'd never have booked her."

The patrons didn't seem to care. They ordered another round from buxom waitresses, paid tattooed dancers to straddle them on barstools, stuffed singles into lace panties. In the front row, center-stage, Remmert nursed his drink, grinning, rehearsing his joke in his head.

"You've read about her in the news. You've seen her on Jimmy Kimmel. Porn star to the president!" the DJ finally called. "Batten down the hatches. Things are about to get Stormy!"

Blue lights spun overhead. Fog plumes erupted from the floor. Big Spender throbbed through the giant speakers as Stormy snaked toward the crowd in a scarlet evening gown, threading a white boa around her ample bosom. She rubbed her butt into the chest of a middle-aged man, "motorboated" a 30-something guy's face between her breasts. Then she sauntered to Remmert, removed his new ballcap and kissed his bald spot. He tried to hold her. But she wriggled away to mount the stage.

The next song was performed by President Kennedy's paramour, Marilyn Monroe. Stormy peeled off long, satin gloves, then the long skirt. "There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer ...'' Off came her top. "But diamonds are a girl's best friend."

Men rained wads of dollar bills onto the stage. Women pressed through the men to smack her butt. Remmert's eyes widened as Stormy sank into a split. On the screen above her, her alleged lover leered.

Five songs in, it was over. Stormy pranced off in her platform heels. A bouncer swept money into a silver bucket.

"You don't have to be the president of the United States to enjoy the hotness tonight!" yelled the DJ. "America really is beautiful."

Some people seemed disappointed. "That was it?" Others were thrilled. "So that's what Trump saw!" The dancers, many half her age, weren't impressed. "Boring," one said of her routine. "It felt dated," said another. "Being a porn star doesn't make you a good stripper. She didn't even work the pole."

A half-hour later, Stormy emerged in a midnight blue halter dress and set up court in the VIP lounge. For $20, you could buy an autographed picture, a DVD or a T-shirt: "Got MILF?" Remmert was first in line. He paid a bouncer to take a picture with his phone. And when Stormy let him hold her breasts, he got so excited he forgot to tell her his joke.

No one in the loud, dark club was paying attention to the latest headlines about Russians being indicted and a Playboy Playmate who may have been another Trump mistress.

Remmert couldn't stay for Stormy's second set or see her shows the next night. He had to get up early for his Walmart shift, and he didn't have $200 for a lap dance. But he had one more $20, enough to buy another minute with his muse.

"She's smart, charging for each time you talk to her," he said. "She may even be a better businessman than Trump."

He went to the back of the line, waited for 20 people. "You again?" Stormy asked. She remembered!

"I have a joke," he said. "Have you ever smelled mothballs?"

She looked confused. Was he referring to himself? To Trump? Slowly, the porn star said, "Yesss ..."

Remmert laughed. "Well, how did you get them to spread their little legs?"

Contact Lane DeGregory at ldegregory@tampabay.com. Follow @LaneDeGregory.

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