LOS ANGELES—Call it a Stormy Surge.
Whether online or in brick-and-mortar stores, many adult retailers say the Stormy Daniels business has never been better.
Now two-and-a-half months since the Wall Street Journal reported the AVN Hall of Fame performer/director received $130,000 in hush money and signed an NDA before the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged affair in 2006 with President Trump, Stormy has not only become a household name, but arguably the most famous porn star in the world.
Fueled by a feeding frenzy of media attention that intensified on the heels of her interview with Anderson Cooper for “60 Minutes” on March 25, sales of Stormy’s sex scenes and movies continue to climb, according to several industry insiders.
“Stormy Daniels is currently our No. 1 most popular star, so her sales have been soaring for the past few weeks,” said Colin Allerton, vice president of AdultEmpire.com, one of the leading online retailers in adult. “Lots of customers have been searching for her work, so she’s often been featured on the homepage, in the blog, or in marketing emails.
Stormy spent almost her entire career under exclusive contract with Wicked Pictures, the high-end feature studio where she wrote, directed and starred in dozens of critically acclaimed movies, a handful of which won AVN Awards. Her newest scenes, however, are being rolled out by the Montreal-based heavyweights Brazzers and Digital Playground, where she is now also an exclusive contract director.
Wicked Pictures indicated there has been a larger spike in interest for the movies in which Stormy has performed compared with the ones she wrote and directed and stayed behind the camera.
“It would be impossible to see her in the news this much and not see an increase,” Wicked said in a statement. “Since Stormy was under contract with Wicked for nearly 15 years—from virtually the beginning of her career up until the end of January 2018—there is no other legal Stormy Daniels adult content on the market from that time period. Consumers are naturally turning to the Wicked brand to see her work.”
According to Wicked, Stormy’s most popular Wicked movies are newer titles such as Unbridled, Vendetta, Sexbots and Wanted (an Adam & Eve co-production), along with classics such as Space Nuts, Camp Cuddly Pines Power Tool Massacre and Operation: Desert Stormy.
While Wicked has been measured in its Stormy promotion given the tone of the controversy, the studio did conduct a Twitter sweepstakes on the night of the “60 Minutes” interview using the trending hashtag #StormyDanielsDay; the winner received a prize package for answering a trivia question about the 2004 movie Cargo, which was written by and starred Stormy and was directed by Jonathan Morgan.
The winning Twitter user, @masterbearjedi, landed the new “The Stormy Years” Six-Film Box Set that includes Divorcees, Last Night, Operation Tropical Stormy, The Predator, Taken and more.
“While there was a social media promotion to reward longtime fans of Stormy's Wicked product, the company isn't capitalizing on the reasons she is in the news right now,” the company said. “For this and other reasons, Wicked hasn’t inserted itself into the news stories. Of course, the company does have 175 Stormy Daniels scenes, and packages have been put together for both our DVD and broadcast customers.”
Stormy Trumps All, a four-hour compilation of her top Wicked scenes, hit the streets in mid-February. The box cover features Stormy sitting on what looks like the desk of the Oval Office.
Mike Kennedy of HotMovies.com said his VOD site began seeing a bump in January when the news of the $130K payout created international intrigue.
“We definitely saw sales of a few of her titles increase, in particular, Stormy Daniels’ Girls Night and Wanted went into the top 10 performing titles for Wicked Pictures when they previously had not even been in the top 50,” Kennedy told AVN. “In January 2018, 10 of the top 25 movies directed by or starring Stormy Daniels were top sellers for Wicked. In December 2017, only two of the top 25 top-selling movies from Wicked featured Stormy as a performer or director.”
The number of searches for Stormy also has seen dramatic jumps at HotMovies.
“In December 2017, ‘Stormy Daniels’ as a search term did not register in the top 100 on our site,” Kennedy revealed. “In January 2018 her name was No. 14. In February it dropped to No. 34 and now she is the No. 2 search term behind ‘big tit.’”
Kennedy noted Stormy was the No. 8 search term between March 1-24 before the “60 Minutes” segment aired.
Meanwhile in December 2017, Stormy Daniels’ profile page at HotMovies was No. 151 in terms of popularity but in January her page moved to No. 40. In February it dropped to 115, but this month it zoomed back to No. 14, Kennedy said.
Stormy Daniels’ Girls Night is currently her most popular movie on the platform.
“Any performer who is in the news, especially mainstream news, is featured on the index page of our site,” Kennedy explained. “Stormy has been featured a few times since January. We have also run some sales on both movies that she has directed and currently on movies in which she has performed and just today we posted a top list on our blog.”
Robert Levy, business development at eLine/Gamelink, told AVN that product revenue for Stormy has increased 208% in 2018 alone.
“People have been buying seven times more Stormy Daniels movies than they were before,” Levy said.
“As far as page views, she's gained 560% more traffic to her star page this year, and a 465% increase in organic traffic that she's gained us on our site.”
Levy added, “She’s now in our top 20 best-selling stars, whereas before, she didn't even rank in the top 100. Stormy Trumps All is currently her most popular film. Her previously most popular film, Stormy Daniels - Wicked Superstar, has increased in popularity this year by 140%.”
Levy said Gamelink has had the native of Baton Rouge, La., featured on its front page for a while as well as spotlighted her in several marketing emails.
Bishop at AEBN.net said his pay-per-view portal is seeing a similar Stormy eruption.
“Searches in the theater system are up 529% in January over the months prior and continue to be strong,” Bishop told AVN. “Pay-per-minute viewing of Stormy movies is up 143% from late 2017. Streaming Rentals are up 94% and Downloads have seen a 373% increase. The most watched movies starring Stormy are Unbridled, The Vendetta and The Madam.
“With each spike of consumer interest in Stormy Daniels we have done additional product placement to make her movies easy to find. Recently, she has been on the splash page, spotlighted as the featured star, and her movies have been selectively product placed. We try to provide the content fans are looking for without too much searching.”
Charts courtesy of AEBN.net
Stormy at post time was ranked the No. 1 Most Popular star on Pornhub, which is the most visited site in adult and one of the top 40 sites on the internet. She held the top spot for this week, this month and last month and has more than 25,000 subscribers to her channel, which includes 99 video clips that have generated 29 million-plus views.
The 2004 AVN Best New Starlet is also the most searched for porn term for 2018 at xHamster, which is among the top 80 most trafficked sites in the world.
“Searches for Stormy this year have topped every other search, and are nearly 3000 times the volume they were last year,” according to the xHamster blog.
xHamster reported it compared the search volume for each state, relative to that state’s population, finding that Washington, D.C. accounted for the most “per-capita” searches.
“Alaska, however, couldn’t seem to care less,” xHamster noted. “They ranked lowest in searches per capita. Overall, deep red states avoided the Storm, while blue and purple states came to xHamster ‘research.’ Either way, she’s been No. 1 almost every week this year.”
Even though it’s been an all-out Stormy blitz for many high-profile retailers, some of the other big names told AVN the numbers have been far from mind-blowing.
Bob Christian, general manager of Adam & Eve, said upon analyzing the data he was “honestly shocked at how little impact we have felt at AdamEve.com.”
“We have run some banners promoting her movies and we have made sure that our search engines are working for all things Stormy,” Christian said. “Surprisingly, only a very modest lift for us online.”
He said Stormy is in the Top 25 most popular movies by Stars, but “I am shocked that she is not higher.”
Adam & Eve’s chain of retail stores that are located in 19 states also have not been significantly affected, he added.
“There are likely some exceptions we didn’t reach, but our retail stores have not been inundated with new people looking for Stormy movies. Very interesting,” Christian said.
Similarly, Philip Del Rio, vice president of retail operations for Hustler Hollywood, which has 22 stores across 12 states, told AVN, “I just ran the numbers and I am not seeing anything noticeable.”
By contrast, Gary Sunshine, director of purchasing for Lion’s Den’s 48 stores in 22 states, told AVN, “We’ve always done very well with Wicked Pictures and have definitely seen a spike in sales of her titles since things got sticky at the White House.”
“There’s been a good deal of renewed interest in Stormy this year and we’ve seen an increase in both requests and sales,” Sunshine added. “Wanted and Unbridled are two of her more popular titles at our stores.”
Sunshine noted that Lion’s Den erected “a small, focused display at all stores featuring many of her films and will watch as things unfold.”
Richard Jacobson, DVD buyer for the 16 Castle Megastores that are located in five western states, told AVN while the scandal hasn’t impacted sales of her movies overall, it has brought more people into their establishments.
“I do feel that it has brought the more casual customer back into our stores to look into not just her movies but physical movies in general,” Jacobson reasoned. “I do feel that the vendors are the ones that want to push her product more than the customers are demanding it because most of her titles are catalog.”
Jacobson estimated a “1% to 3% raise in Wicked as a studio” since it became front-page fodder.
“I do think that her leaving Wicked and going on hiatus did affect the need for new footage from her and her studio and this lost traction in sales based on her popularity,” Jacobson continued. “I would say she is in the top 25 in terms of stars requested. Most of our customers are not star-driven but studio-driven. They are very brand loyal and if they do see a star that they like they will in turn follow that star.”
The most popular Stormy products at Castle are her DVD packs, he said.
“The single titles would be [the Operation Stormy series] due to her being in her prime and the ease in identification with the title,” Jacobson said.
Paul-Jérôme Renevier, acquisition manager for Paris-based DorcelVision, the VOD arm of leading French producer Marc Dorcel, said his site has not seen any sizable change due to Stormy’s situation.
“Even if most of French people got to know the Stormy/Trump story on various news on internet and TV, I assume our audience will always be more interested in domestic talents and the scandal did not increase the sales like spectacular,” Renevier told AVN. “I guess many people discovered Stormy’s name with the scandal but only went on Google to figure out what she looked like.
“… Of course, things would have been different if the whole world could watch a sex tape. … Nevertheless, IPTV operators were glad to know we could release Stormy Trumps All due to our exclusive partnership with Wicked on VOD. And we have also this movie today on our website DorcelVision.com with a huge highlight.”
Retailers and fans hungry for new Stormy releases will not have to wait much longer. In the coming weeks she make her Brazzers debut in "Pornstars Like It Big: Stormy’s Secret”; and in June she’ll appear in "The Fellate Show” for Digital Playground, marking her first appearance with the company since 2004. Both encounters are with veteran stud Keiran Lee.
In addition to Stormy’s two performances, she’s also making her Digital Playground directorial debut with her first full-length feature film, Highway Home, this Spring.
But not only are her sex scene sales booming, so are her dance bookings.
“She was one of the regulars in rotation out on the road and she has shot right to the top of the request list,” said Danny Capozzi, president of the New York-based Centerfold Strips Entertainment, the firm that has managed her feature dancing schedule since October of 2014. “She is actually booked for the rest of 2018 at this point, feature dancing almost every weekend.”
Stormy tonight will take the stage in Nashville, Tenn., on Day 2 of her three-day stint at Deja Vu Showgirls. She has upcoming feature engagements at Ultra Gentlemen’s Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. (April 13-14), Bucks Wild in Fort Worth, Texas (April 27) and Bucks Wild in Dallas (April 28). She’ll also strip at the Admiral Theatre in Chicago June 14-16 and then what promises to be a media circus—the Cloakroom in Washington, D.C. June 20-21.
Capozzi said while he couldn’t be specific, it’s safe to say she raised her dance rates.
“The way that works is Stormy has a certain minimum rate, if you will, and the clubs will call and some of them will make a monetary offer to Stormy to incentivize her—whether it’s to come there sooner or to consider coming to their club,” Capozzi explained. “As you know if you get in on the ground level you might be able to secure a better price than later in the game. Like most products and services as the demand rises, the price goes up. In terms of me negotiating with the clubs, our interests are aligned and I’m certainly going to try to negotiate the best deal for my clients. But the clubs are also my clients so I need to keep them happy, too.
“I can say her rates have gone up significantly since her news broke of her alleged affair with the president.”
Capozzi said Stormy laid out a few rules for promoting her new bookings.
“With respect to the clubs promoting Stormy my directive from her is they can’t use the word ‘Trump’ in their advertising, obviously because Mr. Trump is very protective of his brand and his trademark like most companies and brands are. And with the fact that he’s entangled in a lawsuit with her the best way forward is to try to steer clear of that,” Capozzi added.
Even gentlemen’s clubs in Australia, Mexico and Canada have expressed interest in Stormy coming to town, Capozzi said.
“The one hold-up at the moment is Stormy has to renew her passport, so we have put those bookings on ice at the moment,” he said. “Once she renews her passport we will examine those offers.”
CNN.com on March 25, 2018