CRYSTAL — Nearly a year after the notorious Love Ranch sold in a $1.3-million acquisition of 23 properties that included the Nye County brothel where NBA star Lamar Odom was famously found passed out from an apparent drug overdose, there’s been little effort to reopen or restore the iconic site.
The 10-foot statue of a burlesque courtesan — accented in ostrich feathers — still greets visitors with her arms outstretched at the front door.
But today, she’s faded. And it’s clear she doesn’t bring in the johns like she once did when the desert brothel was in its heyday.
Photojournalist John Clausen recently captured images of the Love Ranch for the Pahrump Valley Times.
Nearly five years after its shutdown, Clausen described the site as “a maze of doublewide trailers” that is “slowly falling to pieces.”
A dusty bathtub has been flipped on its side in the chain link-fenced backyard, and vandals have broken into the property, Clausen reported.
Inside the Love Ranch, an unfinished game of 8-Ball remains forgotten on the pool table in the lounge.
Go deeper into the 10,500-square-foot brothel and a stained mattress and boxspring are among the debris in a retro red-carpeted single room that was once part of Nevada brothel king Dennis Hof’s empire.
“Some rooms still have the twin-sized beds with their sheets and bedspread pulled aside as if frozen in time from their last business transaction,” Clausen reported. “Hof’s legacy in Crystal is like so many mining ghost towns in Nevada. It’s disappearing in the harsh desert’s sands of time.”
Hof was the onetime owner of seven legal brothels in Nevada, including the Love Ranch in Crystal. A larger-than-life personality, Hof was also an author, reality TV star and Republican nominee for the state’s General Assembly when he died at the Love Ranch on Oct. 16, 2018, just weeks before he went on to posthumously win his election. Hof was 72.
Nearly five years after his death there, the couches in the waiting area at the Love Ranch show the dust that’s accumulated since Nye County officials shut the brothel down for unapproved structural changes, fire safety violations and late payments for licensing fees a just weeks before Hof’s death.
Love on the horizon?
What’s ahead for the Love Ranch is anyone’s guess — just don’t expect the business to be revived as a brothel.
Among the officers behind its new owner, Nevada Ranch Holdings LLC, is Janet Jensen. She’s the founder of The Jensen Project, a nonprofit dedicated to ending sexual violence.
As a rape survivor, Jensen founded her project to advocate and provide resources for survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking. Jensen declined to be interviewed for this update, telling the Pahrump Valley Times that her “time and effort is consumed in her quest to end sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking.”
In an article for Alliance Magazine Jensen wrote about the dynamics of sex work and the dangers of decriminalizing it:
“Traffickers lure vulnerable people into a life of fear and shame, creating a spiral from which it is almost impossible to escape. If prostitution is ever fully decriminalized, traffickers will benefit from it,” she wrote.
The other officer listed for Nevada Ranch Holdings, David Saddock, told the Pahrump Valley Times that the company likes to “keep a low profile.”
He says that plans for the Love Ranch could be finalized later this summer.
John Clausen is a photojournalist in Pahrump whose work appears regularly in the Pahrump Valley Times. Brent Schanding is Editor for the PVT. Comment about this story at firstname.lastname@example.org