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  • J Scott Lane

She Still Loves Horses


Baton Rouge is one of those places that changes, but not really. When Stephanie Gregory Clifford lived there in the 1990s Louisiana’s capitol had about the same number of people as it does today, maybe even a few more back then. One in 20 white families and one in three black families lived below the miserable federal poverty threshold in 2000, three years after Stephanie graduated from High School. Today the poverty rates for both groups are about the same.


Her father didn’t want children, and her mom had hoped for a boy. Her parents split when she was four years old, and the family was one of those “below the poverty line” statistics that makes life hard in ways that others that haven’t been there find hard to appreciate. Part of that package included being a victim of childhood neglect and sexual abuse by an older man.


Even in the barest of lives, the sun comes through cracks in the walls. Stephanie’s mother provided for her as best she could, buying her daughter dance and riding lessons. Stephanie bought an old horse with $500 she received as a birthday present from her father and visited the horse often at the stables where it was kept, rehabilitating the animal.


It was also her father that bought her the car, a Toyota Celica. With that gift she learned about freedom, and that she could make more money working in a strip club than she could answering phones. Stephanie worked her way into the adult film industry, also appearing in a few mainstream movies. Then she started a film company and began directing. One of the movies she directed is a pornographic film set against a backdrop of a horseback riding competition.


Stephanie was smart as well as pretty, parlaying her adult film experience into a business that made her wealthy, although none of those things made her very famous. That aspect of her life and career didn’t happen until after October 2016, when Stephanie was paid $130,000 just a few weeks in advance of the 2016 U.S. presidential election to keep quiet about an affair she claims to have had with one of the two main candidates. That candidate initially denied the affair as well as the payment, although now he only denies the former accusation.


The political drama with Trump, who is using these evergreen legal entanglements as part of an ongoing narrative of being unfairly attacked by political opponents, continues to unfold. It seems unlikely that his experience of being attacked would resonate with Stephanie's understanding of that word. But Stormy Daniels, Stephanie’s long-time stage persona, learned to be brave through hardship and is willing to serve as a legal witness if asked to do so. Stephanie still loves horses, has remarried, and moved with her husband to a Florida horse farm. Some things won’t change.

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