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FROM THE EDITOR: Brothel leverages tech-geek curiosity to increase bottom line

There are many nooks and crannies of Nye County and Pahrump I have yet to explore since arriving at the newspaper, including driving out Homestead Road to see a brothel.

To be clear, I’m not interested in the company of any of the ladies, and I’m a happily married man. (Hi Rhonda!)

The brothel industry is not really something I’ve thought about in the 24 years I’ve lived in Las Vegas. I would see one every few years traveling through the state but never had the interest to stop, even when I was single. But from a business or historical context, I find the topic fascinating now that I’m in Pahrump.

This week in the mail I received a copy of “Nye County Brothel Wars,” by Jeanie Kasindorf, an investigative reporter with bylines in the New York Times and Los Angeles magazine. I have a feeling the 1985 book will teach me as much about the early years of Pahrump and county politics as it will the brothel industry.

I’ve gotten a chapter into the book and already Walter Plankinton is stirring up controversy in 1976 trying to establish the Chicken Ranch in the Pahrump Valley. The book promises a “scarcely believable skein of corruption, white slavery, legal malfeasance, and raw violence.”

How has this not been made into a movie?

As a business concept, I find the modern brothel industry interesting. More than one person has tried to convince me of going to Sheri’s Ranch Brothel to eat lunch because they reportedly have good food. Driving to a brothel to eat a hamburger seems strange to me.

Brothels still hold a fascination in American culture.

I read two articles on business news websites this week about the increase in business the local brothels experience during the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Is there anything more cliche than the nerd with a blonde, buxom woman on his arm?

Re/Code, and online technology website at recode.net, discussed how the women at Sheri’s Ranch use social media to promote the property year-round. During the week of the electronics show, Sheri’s bills itself as “The unofficial brothel of CES.” According to the article, the brothel claims a 70 percent business increase during the show, which is held 62.5 miles away at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The article describes how the brothel’s matron uses “humorously bawdy social media” to attract convention goers, but also trains the “on-site sex workers to create online personas.” However, the social media is limited to Twitter, because Facebook and LinkedIn are less welcoming to legal prostitutes.

Legal prostitution online led me to think of Bob McCracken’s brothel history article this week on how the Internet changed the business for Angel’s Ladies Brothel outside of Beatty (see page 1).

Reading the Re/Code article by Nellie Bowles, I discovered I am not the only one who thinks going to the property to eat lunch could be surreal. I am also not the only one who is curious about the industry, with the brothel giving as many as 30 tours a day, often to “curious grandparents passing through,” Bowles wrote.

I hope she didn’t mean the grandparents of the girls working there.

Business Insider also posted an article about Sheri’s Ranch against the backdrop of the electronics show, “Inside the Las Vegas brothel that’s a favorite for people attending CES.”

This article, which seems to have been written in 2013 but reposted last week, was written by Dylan Love, a former tech reporter for the website. The article is loose with facts, like calling it a “Las Vegas brothel,” then saying it is located in Pahrump, both of which are not true.

The article had very little to do with technology and was more a voyeuristic look behind the curtain at the business and the women who work there.

I’m sure the longer I’m here the existence of a legal industry where women sell themselves for sex a few miles from my office will fade into the background of my everyday life here in Pahrump, as it seemingly has for most of the people who work here.

Going back to the Business Insider article, while it didn’t reveal much about the brothel industry from a technology side, one line did catch my imagination.

“The drive from downtown Vegas to Pahrump is an exploration of big empty space, armadillos, and dead cell zones.”


Now that is something out here I’d like to see.

Arnold M. Knightly is the editor of the Pahrump Valley Times and the Tonopah Times-Bonanza & Goldfield News.

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