I never thought I would go to a strip club, but that was before I’d heard of Stormy Daniels.

She got my attention a few months ago when her lawyer started dropping allegations that she’d been paid off during the 2016 campaign to keep quiet about a sexual relationship she’d had with future President Donald Trump. I figured it was just another political sideshow – salacious and distracting, but ultimately meaningless. As the charges piled up, though, it began to look like this could be the kind of sideshow that changes history.

So, I wanted to know more about her and followed her on Twitter. I found a smart and funny woman (who owns eight horses!). She climbed the ranks from porn performer to director and producer – highly impressive in an industry that often chews up women and spits them out.

I admire women who hustle, no matter what their career, so when Stormy came out with official “#teamstormy” merchandise, I bought a shirt. Which means that when I found out that she was coming to PT’s Showclub, in our own city, I absolutely had to go.

My primary worry upon entering the club was that I would be pressured to purchase alcohol; thankfully, PT’s was more than happy to sell me overpriced Pepsi. I’m not sure what the clientele usually is, but on this night it was a fairly mixed crowd, with a few older Portland couples making it an anti-Trump, pro-ladies date night. While my friend Jess and I were observing some extremely impressive pole-dancing moves, a very nice dancer by the name of Portia ended up next to us. She had clearly pegged us as strip club newbies (it wasn’t hard to figure out) and gamely answered our questions while letting me practice tucking a dollar bill into her stocking (it’s tougher than it looks to do it without accidentally pinching the dancer).

I guess I thought maybe the strip club would feel skeevy and exploitative, and maybe sometimes it does, but on this night, I felt surprisingly comfortable.

I go on long walks every day to help maintain my sobriety, and I’m usually in spandex shorts (because anything else makes my thighs chafe), which means I am more than used to men honking their truck horns at me, yelling crude things and generally staring at my body in a way that makes me put 911 on speed dial, just in case. At the club, there was no honking, plus there were bouncers around in case men got violent. And at least the women were being paid to be ogled at. I have to put up with it for free every damn day.

When a patron who confused me for a performer casually grabbed my butt, I told him to remove his hand immediately, and not only did he comply, but he also apologized – multiple times. That isn’t usually my experience with gropers.

When Stormy finally strutted onstage, I could hardly believe it. There she was – totally real (well, almost), and close enough that I could feel the breeze when she swanned by. She came to razzle, she came to dazzle, and I can confirm that she did both quite tremendously. The crowd went wild (especially me). Watching her was different than watching the dancers who came before her. Those girls were working. Stormy was performing.

And then – it happened. In the midst of her set, she saw me, in my “#teamstormy” shirt, chucking dollar bills ungracefully at the stage. (Hey, it’s an art!) She strutted over.

And then next thing I knew, my face was in Stormy Daniels’ bosom.

It was soft, and somewhat bouncy. She smelled nice. My mind went a little blank, but I would definitely rank it in my life’s top 10 moments of sheer awesomeness.

She did a meet-and-greet after her performances. I was impressed by her and her team’s customer service (I work in customer service, so I notice these things); they kept the line flowing smoothly and quickly, but they were never pushy and they didn’t make us feel like we were being processed. One crew member mentioned that he had been working for Stormy for over 10 years; that indicates she’s a good boss. When she hugged us, it felt natural; she signed Jess’ shirt. She has a really nice laugh.

Stormy Daniels is a hustler, an entrepreneur; she has a dance and she knows all the steps. I don’t know what the result of her legal battles will be, but she is a fighter, and nobody should count her out. As Tom Petty sang in Stormy’s show-stopping number – “She’s an American girl.”

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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