Dennis Hof is the owner of the brothel I worked at, and the public face of legal prostitution in Nevada. He makes a big point of saying that this is different from illegal prostitution because the girls can choose to say no. We aren't supposed to have pimps forcing clients on us. A third party having control over who you fuck and how long you spend with them is inherently abusive, because of course it is. The entire rest of the world works that way; legal prostitution is no different.
Unless the client shows up with a comp card.
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
I don't remember hearing about these on Cathouse, but our boss will occasionally issue people cards redeemable for time with the girls. I knew that when I started, but I didn't know exactly how it worked until our brothel's maintenance man earned one and tried to redeem it on me. He handed it over, so I went down to the cashier and asked what to do. "Oh, Dennis must have given him that. It's good for $300, but the house still gets half. So you make $150."
That was OK. Three hundred bucks won't buy you much, but some guys spend that little. Then she tells me, "You have to let him take as much time as he wants." It was made clear that saying no would be the end of my career. I had a choice, but that "choice" was to let some guy have his way with me for a price someone else decided ... or quit.
Melissa Golden / Stringer / Getty Would you let this man pick your sexual partners?
The brothels have other ways of screwing us over. We're independent contractors, even though by definition that means we can't be required to do things like keep a strict schedule or live where we work. But the fact that we're independent means the brothels don't need to worry about health care, or any sort of benefits. I don't want to demonize the brothels. This is a service people will provide and receive no matter what, and there needs to be a clean and safe place to do it. But if we're going to claim these brothels aren't like pimps, they should stop acting like pimps.
In the end, I walked out of my time as a prostitute with one great gift: I can negotiate like a goddamn terror. No car salesman or loan officer has gotten the better of me since. Anyone who thinks legal prostitution is a clear case of men exploiting women hasn't watched a 60-year-old investment banker offer $40,000 for a weekend of back-rubs and cuddling. And anyone who thinks what I just described is easy hasn't ever faked a romantic weekend with someone they barely know. Exploitation is a two-way street.
Robert Evans's first book, A Brief History of Vice, is available for pre-order now!
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