Nevada brothels hurting from unlikely source — the Internet
Brothels like The Mustang Ranch in Nevada are hurting from sex workers using the internet to find clients. A brothel lobbyist tells the News that while some dens of iniquity can survive, others may not be so lucky.
By Beth Stebner / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
First, it was bookstores. Then, the newspaper business. Now, an unlikely industry is suffering from the prevalence of the internet — brothels.
These Nevada “dens of iniquity” are facing a fate of ill-repute. Because prostitutes can now use the Internet to find their clientele, they’re finding less of a need for legal brothels.
George Flint, the senior lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, told the Daily News that the pattern is unlikely to change any time soon.
“The economy’s hurting the brothels, and the prostitutes are using the Internet to promote their services,” he explained. Skyrocketing fuel prices mean not as many clients drive by the lonely neon signage, and loss of income means even loyal patrons may not be able to pay.
But it hasn’t always been so.
Whorehouses sprang up in the Old West, as men rushed to work in boomtowns in the hopes of striking it rich.
And more than a century and a half later, Nevada remains the only state that legally allows the practice to continue.
In modern times, however, sex workers are given more of a choice in the brothel business.
“Brothels are confining for a woman,” Flint, 79, said.
“Years ago, you’d have to check in for a few weeks, that’s all ancient history now. At least 30%-40% of women who have worked at brothels throughout the years, if they still want to make better-than-average money, they use facets of the Internet.”
Of course, this practice is illegal, Flint said.
But for men wanting companionship, a freelance female may be more affordable.
Flint said that he himself has seen a man driving a black Mercedes pick up a street-walker. It’s all in the cost — a free agent may charge as little as $50 for her services, while a visit to the brothel costs at least $200.
And Nevada, unlike other states, is still trapped in a post-recession slump.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate hovers at 9.5%. The national average is 7.4%.
Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but sex workers in Sin City circumvent the law by posting ads on Craigslist for “escort services.”
According to state estimates, there are some 30,000 sex workers in Las Vegas alone.
For many women, Flint said, it simply pays better than other lines of work. And there’s always a need.
Prostitutes say that there is a certain amount of comfort in working in a controlled environment like a brothel. “We’re tested here. It’s safe,” a woman named Taylor, who works at the Bunny Ranch, told Bloomberg News.
Flint said that while there were around three dozen legal brothels in Nevada when he began lobbying for them, the number is dwindling, around a current number of 18 or 19.
“I think the industry will survive,” he told The News, “but it will be a survival of the fittest.”