The Trump Files: Donald Filmed a Music Video. It Didn’t Go Well.

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This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current President—on September 8, 2016.

National media buzzed in November 1990 when it was revealed that Donald Trump would be starring in the music video for a cover of the 1971 Jean Knight single “Mr. Big Stuff” by Precious Metal, an all-female glam metal band. The label’s press release noted that it was a “featured role” that would net Trump a $25,000 donation by the band to the charity of his choice. Trump’s appearance, it crowed, was a “giant act of generosity,” and it quoted Precious Metal’s lead vocalist, Leslie Knauer, calling Trump “a real gentleman to work with.”

“When we were done, he said, ‘This is great! Let’s take this [song] to number one!'” Knauer told Entertainment Week. The enthusiasm may have been linked to the reported bonuses, purportedly also for charity, that Trump would get if the record went gold or platinum. “I think he wanted to keep the money for himself,” Knauer guessed.

Still, all was well for a few months. Then things got Trumpy.

Once the video was done, Trump decided he’d been lowballed. His claim, according to the band, was that he’d been told his appearance was a cameo. But since he appeared throughout the video, Trump allegedly wanted the band to fork over $250,000 instead. Knauer, speaking to Billboard earlier this year, said the mix-up was a lie. “Trump had the script, he played all the parts, shot them,” she said. “So later to say, ‘I thought I was only going to be in one part’—then why did you shoot all those parts? We were just a struggling band, wondering why he would do that to us. He full-on just lied.”

He also creeped out the band’s lead guitarist, Janet Robin. “I had a moment with him where he put his hands around me, his arms around me,” Robin told the Huffington Post, “not around my shoulder but around, you know, my stomach area or whatever you want to call it. I thought that was a little strange.”

“Oh my god, Janet, you have a tight body,” she recalled Trump saying. Knauer remembered the same thing. “He was kinda hot for Janet,” she told Billboard, “saying, ‘Oh my god, Janet, you have a tight body.’ Janet is gay and was like, ‘Yuck, whatever, gross.'”

Precious Metal couldn’t fork over a quarter of a million bucks, so it found a Trump look-alike and reshot the video in a way that didn’t show his face. But Trump’s nonappearance meant the video, and the band, went nowhere. “It didn’t end our band, but it didn’t help,” Knauer told Billboard. “It hurt our label’s support for us.” The band never recorded another album.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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