BATON ROUGE, La. — Shortly before noon today, Wicked Pictures contract star and possible Louisiana senatorial candidate Stormy Daniels arrived at The Roux House in downtown Baton Rouge ... and the public was ready.
"I don't know the number of people that were there, but the place was really packed," Daniels reported. "It wasn't a huge place, but it was a decent size, and it was packed; there were probably 20 news cameras there; every news crew – I mean, it was huge."
Daniels had selected The Roux House as the first stop on her "listening tour" to help her decide if she wants to mount a campaign for one of Louisiana's two Senate seats – and the one that's coming open in 2010 is Republican David Vitter's. (Dem Mary Landrieu won't have to face the voters until 2014.)
So what did she hear?
"It was tough because the news crew was so aggressive that a lot of people were intimidated to speak up or to ask questions," she explained. "I thought they'd want to know what were my plans to stimulate the economy, but no one even asked that. They wanted to know how I felt about taxes and gay marriage and the war. Unfortunately, no one would speak up even though every chair was taken. I think they weren't expecting all those cameras, and when someone would ask me a question, all the cameras would whip around on that person, and that immediately scared everyone else from talking. But as soon as the cameras were turned off and I started to walk through the crowd, every single person wanted to shake my hand and get a photo and tell me what they thought."
So what does she think about the issues?
"The taxes were a big one; they seemed to keep coming back to that one," she stated. "I'm in support of the 'fair tax.' I think we made a big mistake by – we seem in this country to reward bad behavior and punish success. I don't know what the answer is, but I don't agree with what we've got, so that's why I'm doing the listening tour. I want to get what people think we should do."
"They wanted to know my stance on gay marriage," she continued. "I support it. I think everyone should be equal, and a lot of people are against gay marriage because they believe it's a sin, and I'm not saying that it is or it isn’t a sin, that's not for me to decide, but it's also not for anyone to decide; it's for God and the couple in question to handle. I think if people start minding their own business – what two people choose to do in the privacy of their own home as long as it's not hurting anybody else, everyone should just butt out. Making it illegal for a gay couple to get married isn't going to make them not gay. And by legalizing and legitimizing a gay couple to marry isn't going to magically turn a bunch of straight people gay either, and I think that's what a lot of people – a lot of religious people are going on about it. But I have more important things to worry about than whether these people are eligible for a piece of paper that says they love each other."
One thing Daniels made clear was that she supports our troops overseas, even more than her fans are aware.
"I have personally paid for and sent over so many boxes of movies and all kinds of stuff," she noted, "and I see these guys come back, and they're on crutches or they can't walk, and they bring a tattered boxcover or poster of me, and I'm like, 'Let me give you a new one,' and they're like, 'Oh, no, no, no, no. This is the one we hung up. This is the one we touched every day.' Guys send me their medals, and there's some pictures on MySpace of me wearing autographed t-shirts from whole platoons, and that says something. And I send my calendars and they hang them up in their tents and whatever, and I always answer the emails from anyone overseas. I've spent a small fortune buying my movies and shipping stuff."
So what's the problem?
"They asked me how I felt about the troops in Iraq, and they were very interested in that, because they felt like Obama hasn't kept his promise, and I said I feel the same as I think every person in this room feels: I'd like to see my friends and family come home," Daniels reported. "And as far as that, I think I'm the only person in the United States who's been desperately trying to get to Iraq and they won't let me go. I've contacted the USO; they want nothing to do with me. That's why when we shot ODS [Operation Desert Stormy], I made that R-rated cut because I know they can't have porn, but I was going to bring over the R-rated copy of the movie because I thought the troops would love to have that, and they'd want to get a picture and an autograph, and they [the USO] wanted no part of that. So then I offered to go over and do my burlesque show, which is definitely not just me getting up on stage and shaking my ass; I have a themed show. I can keep my bottoms on and pasties; I could do like an old style burlesque performance. They said no to that. So then when I became a Penthouse Pet, I tried to go over as a Penthouse Pet because they have Playmates go; they wanted none of that. But here's the cool thing: If I become an official U.S. Senate candidate, I can go over that way. And the audience seemed to think that that was cool."
"The big question, of course, was, am I going to run, which I reiterated that the point of the listening tour was to help me make that decision; that I was not campaigning today; I will answer every question when I begin the campaign, but this is not a campaign tour, it's a listening tour to decide if I'm going to kick off a campaign."
There were also the inevitable questions about whether Daniels is doing the listening tour simply to further her porn career, but the quick-witted 30-year-old had an answer for that.
"Those questions are mostly from people who don’t understand how our business works," Daniels noted. "I said it doesn't matter how huge this gets, or it doesn't even matter if I become elected; it is impossible for it to further my porn career, because first of all, I'm under contract with Wicked, so it's not like all these other companies can call me and hire me, and my money's not going to go up because I have a fixed rate in my contract that's already in place. Second, I don't get royalties or residuals, so I don't even care about selling more DVDs. It'd be nice for Wicked, but it doesn't do me any good. And once I said that, people were like, 'Oh, okay; so you really can't get anything from it.' And I'm like, 'No, in fact, doing this stuff is taking time when I could be someplace else dancing and making money.'"
So what was her overall impression?
"I came away very pleased with the response, because it was so positive," she assessed. "The place was packed and no one said anything negative. There was no protesting or anything like that and everyone was really supportive and really cool, but I was disappointed because I didn't really learn that much."
Tomorrow's stop on the tour is at Serio’s Po' Boys & Deli, 133 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, but her day will start much earlier than that. She's scheduled to appear on CNN's American Morning show at 7:40 a.m. Central time for an interview about the tour and her political ambitions.
The star is also hoping to get a few volunteers to come out to help her keep the press from intimidating her guests.
"It's a learning experience," she noted. "Today, I didn't know what to expect. Tomorrow when I get to New Orleans, I'm going to say my introductory speech and introduce myself, but when I open the floor up, I'm going to ask the news cameras to allow people to ask their questions without fear of being blasted on the news. It was intimidating, because there were so many cameras and so many lights there. I'm used to being on camera, but not the average Joe sitting there on a lunch break, and it's doubly hard when that person's being put on camera talking to the porn star. So I'm going to address that first off tomorrow."
Anyone interested in helping out should plan to arrive shortly before noon, the official start time of the event, make their presence known to Daniels' entourage, and someone will tell them what to do.
"I've got to wait till I get there and see what the layout is," she said. "Then I'll know how to arrange things."
One thing she probably won't get to do, however, is to actually eat lunch.
"I really don't want to," she explained, "because that's the picture they'd put on the front page of the paper: Me stuffing my face."