5:34pm PT by Chris Gardner
Stormy Daniels Accepts West Hollywood Key to the City
Wednesday may have started with gloomy and overcast weather conditions in Los Angeles, but as the clock moved closer to 4 p.m. — the designated start time for West Hollywood's festivities in naming May 23 "Stormy Daniels Day" — the clouds parted, giving way to sunny skies and temperatures just north of 70 degrees.
By that point, hundreds of onlookers and dozens of photographers and camera crews had converged in front of adult retail store Chi Chi La Rue's where West Hollywood Mayor John J. Duran, Mayor Pro Tempore John D'Amico, and members of the West Hollywood City Council gathered to present adult film actress Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, with a key to the city in addition to a proclamation for her efforts in speaking out against President Donald Trump.
Daniels showed up to the ceremony with her lawyer Michael Avenatti. After taking the key from Duran, Daniels opened her acceptance speech with a joke. "I’m not really sure what the key opens," she said. "I’m hoping it's the wine cellar."
The quip was met with generous laughter from the crowd, but her comments that followed, at times, were met with shouting from a few hecklers. "How big is Trump?" shouted one, while another kept yelling about the nondisclosure agreement, asking Daniels why she signed it and if she used her own pen. It was quite the scene in front of Chi Chi La Rue's, as the entire sidewalk was blocked by onlookers and those hoping to catch a glimpse of Daniels. A drag queen was making the rounds holding up a framed caricature of Trump wearing a diaper, while an older man turned quite a few heads for wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat.
Daniels did not respond to any of the shouting, and she did not take any questions from the gathered media. "The City of West Hollywood is a truly special place very close to my heart, and I would like to thank Mayor John Duran and the entire West Hollywood City Council for this incredible honor," she said. "And, of course, the one and only Chi Chi La Rue for hosting us today. As a woman with two wonderful gay dads, [father Keith Munyan, and his partner J.D. Barrale], I feel especially at home here."
Daniels then paid tribute to values of the city. "The community of West Hollywood was founded more than three decades ago on the principle that everyone should be treated with dignity and fairness and decency," she said. "This community has a history of standing up to bullies and speaking truth to power, and I’m so very, very lucky to be a part of it."
Her remarks followed those of Avenatti, who has catapulted to the spotlight courtesy of a media blitz in support of his client. "We love you, Michael!" shouted several people from the sidewalk after Duran introduced the attorney.
"Let me tell you a little bit about Stormy Daniels," Avenatti offered in his opening. "Stormy is one of the most intelligent, self-aware, courageous people you will ever come to know in your lifetime. I am honored and blessed to act as her counsel each and every day. This woman has a degree of fortitude that most of us can only dream about, and we are very, very happy and very, very blessed that she is at the forefront of this fight each and every day."
Trump was not mentioned by name by either Avenatti or Daniels, but the former did hint to their fight with the president by closing his speech with a warning: "There is one thing I can promise you about Stormy Daniels, and that is she’s not packing up. She is not going home. She will be in for the long fight, each and every day.”
Following the ceremony, Daniels won't stray far from the 90069. Following a brief break, she is scheduled to sign autographs for fans at Chi Chi La Rue's (8861 Santa Monica Blvd.) from 7-9 p.m., and then is expected to head around the corner to mingle at gay hotspot The Abbey on Robertson Boulevard. The appearance is Daniels' latest in a busy month that also saw her travel to Penthouse strip clubs to promote her appearance on the cover of the magazine.
A veteran in the adult entertainment business, Daniels became the center of a media firestorm after she claimed to have engaged in an affair with Trump in 2006, an encounter that led to a nondisclosure agreement and a $130,000 payment from Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen. Daniels is suing President Trump for defamation.
In a press release announcing the news, the City of West Hollywood praised Daniels: "In these politically tumultuous times, Daniels has proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation." The city also organized a #Resist march last June in place of the usual Pride march.
This crowd is something else. Aggressive media, some eccentric WeHo locals, lots of @StormyDaniels supporters and strangely enough, an older gent in a #MAGA hat. (And someone else smoking a lot of weed). #StormyDanielsDay @WeHoCity pic.twitter.com/9KFsAqN9PG— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) May 23, 2018