My American Dream: Heroes and Villain
Trump & Stormy, 2018 Oil on linen 54 × 40 inches
Trump & Stormy, 2018
Oil on linen 54 × 40 inches

This is an image now made famous over its ubiquitous repetition when the news (or at least my “real” news of MSNBC, CNN, and more) brings up the notorious Stormy Daniels case. It’s proof in the pudding that Trump had his adulterous affair with this porn star, whose real name is Stephanie Gregory. In 2018 she became involved in legal dispute with Donald Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money to silence Daniels over the affair she says they had in 2006. Trump and his team say she is lying, although there is much proof to the contrary, including this notorious image, and the case may be a major component in finally taking this demigod down. The photo is from when she and Trump met each other after a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada a year after Trump’s marriage to his third wife, Melania, who was four months pregnant with their son Baron. At the ill-fated day, after a lousy performance at the celebrity golf, Trump met Stormy at a gifting suite that was promoting Wicked, a porn production company that had made Stormy a star. Trump invited her for dinner, which turned out to be in his hotel room, where no food, at least, was to be served. When painting this picture, I wanted to paint it as “straight” as possible, following my gridded image, without making exaggeration or caricature, as it was as if Trump was a living cartoon evil clown without having to make any changes. I love Goya, who painted Charles IV and his family as a royal painter, making images of his king that they would admire and approve, but in our time, look like as if he is mocking them, as they too were ill-fated leaders who were incompetent and corrupt. As Goya’s genius is in part to reveal the inner soul of the people he paints in addition to trying to respect who they are in his commissions, I wanted to try to make a work, that in a different world, perhaps even Trump might approve. The My Daniels watermark of the original image I wanted to keep intact, as to give Stormy the power of her agency, and indeed, subconsciously I painted her hair to resemble snakes, a modern Medusa, in a good way, turning her men erect—but to stone. He seems to be like the cat that ate the canary—I felt he was thinking about what he would have “for dinner” that night, his belly contorts out barely able to keep his pants—and belt on. I watched interviews with Stormy while painting this, and she mentions on one talk show that Trump’s penis was small, but with a big mushroom head, and I also realized that subconsciously, his pants button might be like Trump’s other head sticking out in anticipation of his prize. His shirt really was this yellow, but now reminds me of the urine in his alleged glee for watersports, the logo on his shirt resembling to me a fractured heart. Stormy on the other hand has power in the red of her eyes from the camera flash, and it’s amazing, as the image is always shown, but so pixelated and quickly, that when you really look she is doing something alluring with her tongue, and of course the Wicked motif behind them symbolizes more than merely a movie studio, the blissed out nature of the plants and more also resembling, in my mind, the horror of the hell in early renaissance and medieval paintings, where Trump probably will reside, if it really exists, for the rest of eternity.