Dude hooks like a lady

Can male prostitutes legally work in Nevada? We may soon find out.

In Nevada, a good brothel is never far away.
Photo: T.R. Witcher

Heidi Fleiss got the headlines and the HBO reality treatment when she moved to Pahrump to start a stud farm—even though she never applied for a brothel license. Now a far more serious attempt may be made to have probably the first legal male prostitutes in the United States. “As soon as we find the right guy, we are going to get him hired,” says Bobbi Davis, owner of the Shady Lady brothel, just north of Beatty.

According to the help-wanted advertisement on the Shady Lady’s website, the right guy “will be … in their early thirty’s to mid fifty’s. Have a Good Work Ethic. Must be Service Oriented. Have a Willingness to Please. Have a Positive Attitude.” Davis adds in a phone interview that she hopes he will have good muscle tone and be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Since Fleiss never got her brothel license, the issue of who would work for her never came up. Davis already has a brothel, so the confrontation, if there is one, would come down to a decision by the Nye County Sheriff’s Department: Will it issue a work card to a male prostitute? At the heart of the legal argument, says ACLU attorney Allen Lichtenstein (who represented the Shady Lady in the past in his private practice) is the cervix:

“The basis for possibly denying male workers in legal brothels is that in the [state] administrative code it says each person working as a prostitute has to have a cervical examination. Since men don’t have a cervix, men aren’t allowed to do it. That argument is preposterous. It is an absurd argument and a very weak one. Based on the Nevada law on sex discrimination, I can see no basis for allowing female prostitutes but not male ones.”

Like Fleiss, Davis intends to create this service for female clients. But Lichtenstein points out antidiscrimination laws work both ways—if a man shows up for a male prostitute who is willing to accept the work, the brothel can’t discriminate. Davis agrees, but thinks it will be mostly women who are interested.

As for the cervix rule, it may have already been waived. According to Davis and Lichtenstein, Nye County has not stopped women from working who have had their cervixes removed for medical reasons. And it is also possible that someone who has had a male-to-female sex change could get a sheriff’s card to work in a brothel, though that person would have no cervix to examine. The Nye County sheriff’s office declined comment on the subject.

Likewise, the department has not indicated to Davis how it would respond to the still-theoretical applicant; for their part, Davis and Lichtenstein aren’t saying what they’ll do if the application is denied, although a lawsuit seems probable.

Meantime, another source of resistance has sprung up: the brothel business itself. Davis says she has heard that her colleagues aren’t happy with her decision to push the legal boundaries; presumably they fear some kind of regulatory backlash.

In a raging phone call to this Weekly writer, George Flint, longtime industry lobbyist, said the cervix issue is “a stupid fucking question” and launched into an astonishing tirade:

“Comparing women and men is apples and oranges. There is residual tissue [in women who’ve had their cervixes removed]. You are talking about a general part of her anatomy that could be examined still. It makes no difference if the cervix has been removed. Allen may be a great lawyer, but he doesn’t know shit about a woman’s anatomy. You can tell him I said that. I am sick of fucking stupid journalists thinking it is about the cervix. This is bigger than a medical issue. Throughout history prostitutes have been women. Check your Bible, my friend. It is filled with examples of prostitution, and it is all women. And women prostitutes can inspect male customers for VD. How the hell is a man who is not a doctor going to inspect a woman?”

When the brothel industry uses the Bible to make its points, it certainly seems that Nevada’s experiment in keeping the world’s oldest profession legal is facing some major changes.


Richard Abowitz

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