Nevada's Brothels: The Hard Facts
by JenLynn Sweet | photos by Steve Dewall
Nevada is the only US state in which commercial sex is legal. It has
been legal since Christmas Day, 1970, when the first brothel-licensing
ordinance took effect.
Not all counties in Nevada allow commercial sex. Only counties with fewer than 200,000 people can vote to license prostitution.
Commercial sex is illegal in the Nevada cities of Reno and Las
Vegas. The local county spends at least $1 million a year to combat
prostitution within its boundaries.
There are currently between 30 and 40 operating brothels, employing over 300 licensed prostitutes.
Typically, girls work 12 hours on weekdays and 14 hours on Fridays
and Saturdays. They often work a three-week stint without a day off.
Sex workers must undergo weekly state-mandated medical exams and
tests for gonorrhea, genital warts and herpes. Monthly tests for
syphilis and HIV are also required.
In March of 1988, the state passed a law that made condom use
mandatory in all legal brothels. This followed a 30 to 40 percent
decline in business due to public fear of AIDS transmission.
One pricing survey indicates that most sessions cost between $150 and $500 an hour, with an average hourly cost of about $300.
The license fees from legal brothels provide the sole support for a
Nevada county hospital, as well as a neighboring county's entire
It is not possible for a woman to enter a legal Nevada brothel and obtain the services of a male prostitute.
It is not possible for a man to enter a legal Nevada brothel and obtain the services of a male prostitute.
It is sometimes possible for a woman to enter a legal Nevada brothel
and obtain the services of a female prostitute, but it's very uncommon.
Most brothels have "menus," which describe the customers' choices.
These can range from giving enemas to receiving a dildo in the ass.
According to a DUREX survey of Nevada brothels, the average age of a
sex worker is 29. Two-thirds of them are white, and more than
three-quarters have a high school diploma.
The condom law is no joke‹condoms must be used during manual and oral sex, as well as vaginal and anal penetration.
The Mustang Ranch was the first operating brothel. It was located in
trailers at the convergence of three different counties, so when one
county cracked down, they'd move the brothel 500 yards into another
The IRS seized the Mustang Ranch in 1990, then resold the property
at an auction after talk show host Arsenio Hall called President Bush
For Xmas last year, the Moonlite Bunnyranch offered first-time
elected officials a 99 percent discount on their services‹sadly,
Senator, the offer ended when Clinton's impeachment trial did.
You can buy the Lazy B Guest Ranch, a licensed, legal brothel that's
conveniently located right next to a naval air base, for only $795,000.