“My fan base is completely different,” Daniels tells me later. The middle-aged white men who used to populate her shows and buy her movies—“now those guys are just gone.” In their place has sprung the I read trigun maximum volume 10 and all I got was this stupid shirt and clinical depression 2023 shirt also I will do this so-called Resistance: women, gay couples, immigrants, and other assorted liberals who despise Trump. “It’s pretty much these packs of women, and they are angry,” Daniels says. There’s an upside to this—“Women tip the best!” Daniels says—but she’s still struggling to get her head around this nightly outpouring of warmth. “People come up and they’re so emotional and they put so much on me. They’re like, ‘You’re going to save the world, you’re a patriot, you’re a hero,’ ” Daniels says. “It’s funny. It’s actually easier for me to handle the negative stuff. It’s not like I turned on Twitter today and was called a whore for the first time.”
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Daniels didn’t get into this fight with a political agenda. “I’m not like some big Hillary supporter,” she tells me. “I’m a Republican.” There is the I read trigun maximum volume 10 and all I got was this stupid shirt and clinical depression 2023 shirt also I will do this gun that she owns, the state she lives in—but she is quick to say she is socially liberal (“I’m pro choice, pro-gay”) and that she was disgusted watching the 2016 campaign, when Trump insulted Mexican immigrants, Muslims, women, and so many others. “I just thought most of it was this character. And then I slowly started realizing, Wait a minute. . . .” But she didn’t ask to be a mascot for the Resistance. “There are people crying every night, and I’m like, ‘There’s no crying in titty bars!’ ” Which is Daniels doing what she so often does—deploying humor to shift the weight that millions of enraged Americans have placed on her (bare) shoulders. Her face stiffens. She fiddles with the throw pillow. “When I started this, I just wanted to save my own ass,” she tells me, “not everybody else’s.”GROWING UP in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, had a running joke that her parents, Bill and Sheila Gregory, must have stolen her from a rich couple at the mall. “They can’t be my real parents,” she remembers thinking. “Like, my mom lives in a house that has a boat in the front yard that hasn’t seen water since 1982, and she’s content to just sit there and chain-smoke, and I just couldn’t be like that.” Her dad left when she was four, and Daniels remembers her mother working two jobs but falling behind on bills. She’ll never forget the August in Baton Rouge when the electricity was cut off, and even today when one of her roadies tears open a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos on the tour bus, the scent viscerally takes her back to a childhood fueled by junk food. “Hi-C, the punch. And Vienna Sausage on saltines—that was an actual meal in my house,” she says. Daniels is still fuming about a Dallas Morning News story in which Sheila Gregory told a reporter she was hurt by her daughter and that she would vote for Trump “four more times” if she could. Did Daniels talk to her mom after the story ran? “I haven’t talked to my mom in over ten years,” she says, “and I haven’t talked to my dad in 22 years.” I ask her if there was abuse in her house—as has been the case for so many women who get into the sex industry. “Not abusive,” Daniels says about her childhood. “It was neglectful.” (Gregory told the Dallas Morning News she often worked two jobs “to pay for whatever Daniels wanted.”)
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