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The bed in the Princess Room at the World Famous Mustang Ranch outside Reno, Nevada on Aug. 22, 2019. Photo by Andrea Laue.

By Alice Little

I recently read an article by The Nevada Independent titled “At Mustang Ranch open house, Gilman says he wants ‘better respect’ for brothel industry.” The piece featured perspectives on Nevada’s legal brothel industry from a brothel owner and one of his managers. The brothel owner opened the doors of his brothel to the media to illustrate his transparency in light of an upcoming brothel study to be conducted by an interim committee appointed by the Nevada Legislature.   

The article talked about the owner’s legacy, his perspectives on decriminalization vs. legalization, and how he and his staff are just thrilled to have the committee scrutinize brothel operations. The piece is embellished by photographs of the owner and manager, and of the lavish brothel rooms and amenities. Sex workers, however, are nowhere to be found.

Now, I’m pretty sure that when the journalist visited the brothel, there were sex workers present. After all, what is a brothel if not an establishment where sex workers ply their trade? Certainly, it would have been possible to include the perspectives of women currently working in the bordello. But, for whatever reason, no legal prostitutes were even mentioned in the piece, let alone quoted.

As a highly accomplished sex worker currently working in Nevada’s legal brothel industry, I take issue with this exclusion of sex worker voices.

The study to be conducted by the interim committee is “an examination of the extent to which the rules and working conditions in licensed brothels provide for the health, safety and general welfare of sex workers in licensed brothels.” Clearly, in order to appropriately conduct this study, the committee will be required to interview the women whose welfare the committee aims to protect. Likewise, I feel that journalists should also take into consideration the views, opinions, and perspectives of Nevada’s legal sex workers when writing a story about the brothel industry.

Just as a shopping mall is comprised of dozens of individual retail outlets under the umbrella of the shopping center, a legal brothel is fueled by the independently contracted sex workers that provide services under the umbrella of the brothel license holder. Without the stores in the mall, the shopping center would be an empty building devoid of customers and revenue. Similarly, a brothel without sex workers is worthless.

As a Nevada sex worker, I do not “work for” a brothel owner. I partner with him or her and agree to pay the owner a percentage of my revenue in return for the opportunity to work in a regulated legal system. I am my own person with my own voice and views — and no brothel owner speaks for me or on behalf of any sex worker.

This upcoming study is about more than just revisiting brothel regulations – it’s about shattering stigmas and smashing outdated perspectives on Nevada’s sex industry. We cannot get an accurate picture of prostitution legalization without the involvement of the legal sex workers. Without us, there would be no industry — just a lonely brothel owner sitting at the bar of an empty building. Talk to sex workers. Interview sex workers. And, most of all, respect sex workers for being the independent and autonomous professionals that we are.

Alice Little is a licensed sex worker at the world famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch legal brothel in Carson City, Nevada and an intimacy and sexuality coach in the U.S. She is an outspoken advocate for sex worker rights and champion for an all-inclusive sex-positive society.

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