270pp, Rs 699; Pan Macmillan
It’s been nothing but Stormy weather for President Donald Trump since she revealed details of their alleged relationship in March last year. Her interview with the American show 60 minutes had 22 million viewers — just in America. With over 10 books written about Trump’s presidency, Daniels’ memoir Full Disclosure emerges as one of the shrewdest observations of the US President and the country he wants to build.
Full Disclosure, being bought worldwide for its lurid details of the porn actor/director’s affair with the president of the United States, contains many perceptive observations about Trump – from their first meeting to the infamous lawsuit POTUS filed against Daniels. Daniels spares no intimate detail. She describes how they met at a Lake Tahoe golf course, how Trump’s bodyguard invited her to his hotel room. The scene is somewhat comic. When Daniels walks into Trump posed like Adonis wearing pyjamas. After insisting he change into a suit, she writes that she smacked his behind with a rolled-up magazine as “punishment for his narcissism.”
Daniels’ description of Trump — his inability to talk about anything but golf sharks and his business success — paints a picture that the world is all too familiar with. In a particularly unforgettable scene, which Daniels describes with the comic sense of an SNL writer, she leaves the room for a moment and comes back to find Trump lying in bed in only his white briefs and socks. “He was perched on the edge of the bed like he had tried out different poses,” she writes, adding that it came off as “a poor attempt at looking powerful.”
Post their sexual encounter, by which Daniels says she was “disgusted”, she describes Trump’s demeanour as one of total one-sided orgasmic bliss. Then pointing out that since that time, he has changed his tune from calling it “best sex ever” in the New York Post to “I had sex with that..”
Whatever he claims at present, Daniels was clearly a close part of Trump’s circle during their affair. She recalls in detail his eccentricities, but more importantly, she writes about a 2007 phone call between him and Hillary Clinton. This was when the former Secretary of State was fighting against Barack Obama in the Democratic Primaries. For the most part, Daniels’ description of her time with Trump oscillates between lacking in excitement to somewhat disturbing. Of all things though, she appears to take personally Trump’s attacks on TV host Nancy O’Dell’s breast augmentation. “Hey, watch how you talk about big, phoney tits, asshole,” she writes. For those who follow Daniels on Twitter, the language and audacity come as no surprise. She often takes on Trump and tweeted that he appears to be into bestiality after he called her “horse face.” But her reaction to Trump’s attacks on Nancy O’Dell also reveals a lot about the world in which Daniels works. Her breast surgery at 19, and how a boob job meant an immediate rise in her pay cheque.
A portion of the book focuses on swipes at Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. She eviscerates him with several choice words. Given how far the case against Cohen has gone, and with her having a part of play in it as well, Daniels writes, “It never occurred to any of these men that I would someday have a voice.”
Full Disclosure, however, isn’t a book about Trump. It is Stormy Daniels’ memoir. Some of the most intimate details she reveals have nothing to do with the US President. In her disclosures about her childhood, Daniels appears vulnerable and far removed from the brash personality that is her public persona. She talks of growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her violent relationship with her family, and how a neighbour repeatedly raped her when she was nine.
Full Disclosure is not your average political memoir or even a book about sex work. Within its pages, Daniels is defenseless, insightful, and very likeable. A large portion of the book sheds light on how porn, the music industry and Hollywood interact. After moving to Los Angeles in 2002, Daniels started working as a touring dancer in strip clubs, a porn performer and director. From her descriptions of the times she spent with the metal band Pantera, to her hazy recollection of the time she got married in Las Vegas while blackout drunk, she has no regrets. This is the story of a woman who disregards societal norms. Daniels is frank when she writes that she’s doing what she loves. In the process, she adds, she makes good money and can afford the things she enjoys.
At some point, while reading the book, the reader may get the impression that Daniels and Trump are two sides of the same coin. There is no small amount of self-aggrandisation in her memoir. Daniels namedrops and misses no opportunity to remind the reader that she graduated with top-class grades and has a photographic memory. There is always a mention of her adoring fanbase; she self-promotes unabashedly never missing a moment to emphasise how good she is at what she does.
In that sense, the reader may even feel that Trump may not have realised that he took on an opponent who too enjoys vulgar and childish games. Daniels is not giving the reader a Pretty Woman story — she’s no harlot with a gold heart and doesn’t pretend to be on any page of her memoir. Rather, she’s vulgar, brassy, over-sharing at times; everything a woman is not supposed to be. Yet, she is very relatable. More so than POTUS has been so far.
Avantika Mehta is an independent journalist. She lives in New Delhi.
Mar 08, 2019 21:38 IST