Stormy Daniels sprung onto The Men’s Club stage draped in a costume patterned like a flowing American flag, which she slowly shed down to a red, white and blue garter and a star-spangled thong.
As she danced topless for Raleigh spectators Wednesday night, hours after filing her latest lawsuit related to her alleged affair with President Donald Trump, the speakers blared “American Woman.”
And as the crowd cheered, Daniels discovered her notoriety with the chief executive had spawned a new legion of fans seated within garter-tossing distance: political supporters with no prior strip club experience.
That was the case for Jimmy Creech, who was seated with his wife, Chris Weedy. They waited three hours in the front to cheer on the stripper and porn actress Creech called “an American hero.”
“We just admire her willingness to challenge the dishonesty of Donald Trump,” he said. “To call him out on that and take it as far as it can go.”
The 40-year-old actress alleges both an affair and a hush-money deal with Trump, who has denied any romantic contact.
Her show coincided with Wednesday's new headlines: a lawsuit filed against her former attorney Keith Davidson, calling him a "puppet" for the Trump administration who conspired to get her to deny the affair.
With Daniels set for two nights of performances at the club, pole dancing took on a decidedly political flavor, and her arrival made for unexpected patrons.
She did not pack the house, but the 100-odd people out on a Wednesday night brought a fervor with them, and they stood 25 deep waiting for autographs and selfies.
Daniels, signing her Penthouse magazine cover Wednesday along with T-shirts that read “Team Stormy,” described her support coming from unfamiliar territory since her “60 Minutes” interview this spring, in which she described a consensual affair with the president in 2006 in the early years of his marriage to first lady Melania Trump.
“The fan base is now completely different,” she said. “Lots of gay men taking forays into strip clubs, and lots of women. Angry, angry women.”
Weedy, a psychiatric social worker, acknowledged some unease inside a topless club because her work connects her with clients troubled by substance abuse and financial straits that lead to sex industry work.
“I don’t frequent these kinds of places,” she said. “But it’s important to me to support Stormy because she’s standing up for herself and she has integrity. She’s articulate. In that ("60 Minutes") interview, you could feel her integrity.”
At least one man at the club was spotted wearing a red T-shirt bearing the slogan “Make America Horny Again," a nod to both Trump's campaign slogan and Daniels' tour name.
Daniels’ visit is a repeat appearance at the club where she danced in 2010 while topless and dressed as Little Red Riding Hood — a night on which she announced she would not challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in her home state of Louisiana.
Now, she is a frequent topic of 24/7 news reports and legal wrangling.
Millions watched Daniels' March interview on "60 Minutes," with interviewer Anderson Cooper. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she had been threatened in a Las Vegas parking lot by an unknown man who warned her to leave Trump alone. The man motioned to Daniel's daughter, the actress said, telling her, "It would be a shame if something happened to her mom."
Though the president has said he had no knowledge of any payment to Daniels, his newest legal aide Rudy Giuliani said in a Fox News interview last month that Trump reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen for $130,000 to keep the actress quiet during his 2016 election campaign.
Earlier this year, Daniels filed suit against Trump and Cohen seeking to dissolve a confidentiality agreement she signed shortly before the election in exchange for the money. She later added a defamation suit against the president after he posted a tweet calling her forensic drawing of the the threatening man "a total con job."
As Weedy left Daniels' and a dozen other women's performance around midnight, she offered this critique as a first-timer:
"They're extremely athletic," she said. "Their upper body strength is incredible. ... But I think the whole thing is corny."