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Posts Tagged ‘brothels’

Almost none of [the “sex trafficking” narrative] is true—and the little that is technically true is so lacking in context that it’s utterly misleading.  –  Elizabeth N. Brown

Anatomy of a Boondoggle 

Just another example of “authorities” paying men to rape whores:

Police raided two flats used as brothels…in Nicosia [Cyprus], arresting a woman from China and detaining another female sex worker [pretended] to be a victim of human trafficking.  A civilian associate of the police visited the brothel and used marked bills to buy sexual services…After [raping the women] the man signalled the police by sending them an SMS message…Police located the two marked bills and [stole] 347 condoms, four of which had been used, along with four mobile phones, sex toys, a computer, and the amount of €345 in cash…

Something Rotten in Sweden

It’s good to see that even reporters who credulously parrot cop anti-whore propaganda now feel compelled to at least mention Amnesty’s findings:

…It can be difficult for police to build cases against traffickers when their primary witnesses — victims — are too afraid to talk [and] don’t trust police [who]…still conduct stings against sex workers…To create more trust among potential victims and curb the demand for commercial sex, sting operations should focus more on catching johns and pimps, [fetishist cop Mark Keller] said…He also suggested changing state law to the so-called Nordic model, which makes it legal for people to prostitute themselves but illegal to pimp, traffick or purchase sex…The model could help [cops] gain the trust of sex trafficking victims…Keller said.  However, it was recently scrutinized in a report by…Amnesty International…which found it subjected sex workers to increased police scrutiny, evictions and other penalties…

The Eye of the Beholder (June Updates)

Given that there is no possibility of a child, what exactly is the rationale behind this prosecution, other than “The ‘authorities’ find this skeevy” or “The law is the law”?

A mother and daughter are facing incest charges in…Oklahoma after authorities learned they were legally married earlier this year.  It is unclear what motivated Patricia Ann Spann, 43, and her daughter, Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 25, to wed…Investigators also found Patricia Spann married her son in 2008.  He filed for an annulment 15 months later, citing “incest”…Police discovered the marriages late last month during a child welfare check-up.  Patricia Spann told investigators she had lost custody of her biological children as a young mother and only came into contact with her daughter two years ago…the couple believed the union was legal, since she was not listed as the biological mother on her daughter’s birth certificate.  Each woman faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic weiners-weiner

Maybe if we keep repeating this enough, it will eventually sink into the thick public skull:

…Despite popular headlines and self-promoting TV doctors’ proclamations to the contrary, sex addiction isn’t real…There is no doubt that some people have trouble regulating their sexual thoughts, desires, and behaviors.  But addiction has a real meaning and a real clinical definition…When addicts…are shown pictures of their drug of choice there is a clear and uniform response in their P300 brain waves…However, when UCLA researchers studied the response to viewing sexually explicit images in people who self-defined as being unable to regulate their porn viewing, the results showed no similar response…In fact, they found the only thing correlated with brain wave activity was sexual desire such that the higher their self-reported sexual desire, the more brain wave activity they showed.  The authors concluded that there was no evidence to say that even problem sexual regulation fit the definition of addiction as defined by brain response and that these people simply had high sex drives…

Divided We Fall (#13)

Why does Gay, Inc never speak up for sex worker rights until it’s too late?

Indonesian police are taking aim at Grindr and other gay social networking apps following the arrest of three men accused of running a “gay prostitution ring” [advertising] underaged boys for sex.  The arrests come amid an unprecedented uproar about homosexuality in the country, where it has never been a major political issue before this year.  Members of the legislature announced…they would…ban “gay propaganda” online.  The country’s Constitutional Court is likewise currently in the middle of hearings on a petition to [criminalize]…all sex outside of marriage…Police have told local media they have identified 148 victims of the network, though only 27 of them are [supposedly younger than 18]…“More than a few gay communities have been growing and targeting kids as victims,” said Asruron Ni’am Sholeh, chair of the Child Protection Commission…

“Targeting kids”…hmm, where have we heard that accusation before?  But back when the moral retards were just warring on female sex workers, the big GLBT organizations couldn’t be bothered to notice.

Finding What Isn’t There

Note how dysphemisms and weasel-words are used to conjure a story out of nothing but rumors, exaggerations and hysteria:

More than 1,000 women and girls have been apparent victims of sex trafficking in illicit cantinas in the United States that largely operate beyond the reach of law enforcement, the anti-[sex work] group Polaris [fantasized]…Half of the…cases…arose in Houston, Texas, a city near the Mexican border with a large Latino population…Cantinas…may disguise the cost of commercial sex in very high drink prices, and women are forced to flirt and drink with patrons…hotlines run by Polaris got reports of 201 cases of sex and labor trafficking, involving 1,300 potential victims at cantinas and bars in 20 U.S. states from 2007 to 2016.  More than half the victims were underage…At one illicit cantina in Houston, some victims were forced to have sex as often as 50 times a day, it said.  The cantina owner, convicted of sex trafficking, conspiracy and other charges, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year…Cases can be hard to investigate and prosecute because traffickers and owners may hide their ownership of cantinas or liquor licenses, and because victims are too scared to testify in court, afraid that traffickers will retaliate by hurting their families…

“Apparent” victims, meaning reports from busybodies that added up to nothing.  Reports of “force” that don’t hold up because there isn’t any, which Polaris then insists are real except that the “victims” won’t admit it.  Impossibly-high claims of clients per day such as we haven’t seen in a couple of years now, using a high-profile racism-based railroading case as “evidence”, and moving the entire city of Houston hundreds of miles south to bolster their fantasy.  This is absurd even by Polaris’ standards.

Too Close To Home

Serious question: How do we nominate Liz Brown for a Pulitzer?

…On January 7, Washington officials [claimed]…women [had been] lured from South Korea under false pretenses and “held against their will” at local brothels.  [They crowed about seizing] a website where deviant men promoted and reviewed these enslaved women…King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg [said]…”The systematic importation of vulnerable young women for sexual abuse, exploitation, and criminal profiteering has been going on for years and it came to a stop this week…This is what human trafficking looks like.”  But as more information about the case has become available, Satterberg’s narrative starts to break down.  The reality—as evidenced by police reports, court documents, online records, and statements from those involved—is…a story of immigration, economics, the pull of companionship and connection, the structures and dynamism that drive black markets, and a criminal-justice system all too eager to declare women victims of the choices they make…

The piece is long, thorough and damning. I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, even if you need to do so in three sittings (it’s broken into three parts).  The “sex trafficking” narrative has been slowly crumbling, and in this important article Liz has handily taken a sledgehammer to a very prominent outcropping of it.

The Mote and the Beam (#613) 

Another victory against a political witch hunt:

The Supreme Court temporarily blocked a congressional subpoena that seeks information on how Backpage.com screens for possible sex trafficking in classifieds advertising.  The order…came hours after Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer asked the high court to intervene, saying the case threatens the First Amendment rights of online publishers…the…stay means that Backpage need not comply…until further action from the Supreme Court…The Senate panel has tried for nearly a year to make Backpage produce certain documents as part of its [persecution of sex work advertisements] over the internet.  After the website refused to comply, the Senate voted 96-0 in March to hold the website in contempt…

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-james-robinson

Go on, keep giving male cops power over women; what could possibly go wrong?

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations arrested Riverdale [cop] James Robinson Jr…[for] raping a woman he was transporting to jail…Robinson stopped the car next to an empty building near a Custom tire shop…as soon as the woman was released from jail she…asked the shop for footage from its security cameras…

One Born Every Minute (#644)

Interesting that this article doesn’t mention the anti-Backpage mob:

In a 2014 opinion in a case involving a woman who was drugged, raped, and filmed by men she met through the website ModelMayhem.com…the Ninth Circuit wrote that the CDA was not “an all purpose get-out-of-jail-free card for businesses that publish user content on the internet.”  The court found that Model Mayhem…could be sued for failure to warn as the site was aware of the model’s rapists because they were the subject of a criminal investigation for doing the same thing to other Model Mayhem users…the court found that Section 230 did not protect the website when it failed to do anything about the rapists it knew were prowling its site…a…Match.com case is very similar.  [Wade] Ridley, the suit claimed, had attacked other women using Match.com and the company had done nothing to warn love-seeking online daters about the possibility of attack.  The Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal of some claims, but it found that the logic supporting the court’s Model Mayhem ruling applied here, too…

Of Course It Is

A step in the right direction, at least:

…Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley [announced] criminal charges against seven [cops]…O’Malley [also] said she found evidence of [rapist cops]…in Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Joaquin counties, all outside her jurisdiction.  She said she has  contacted her counterparts there to pursue criminal action…The most serious Alameda County charges — felony oral copulation with a minor — will be filed against Oakland [cop] Giovanni LoVerde and Contra Costa Sheriff’s deputy Ricardo Perez…Oakland [cop] Brian Bunton also faces a felony charge of obstruction of justice and a misdemeanor charge of engaging in prostitution.  Three other Oakland [cops] will be charged with crimes…Terryl Smith…LeRoy Johnson…and…Warit Uttapa…Dan C. Black of the Livermore Police Department…faces [four] misdemeanor charges…O’Malley said it’s likely that formal charges against the officers will not be filed until Guap, the case’s primary witness, returns to California…“If the [City of Richmond] does not pay for her to come back, we will pay for her airfare,” O’Malley said…

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How could I be happy in a country that is so…puritanical when it comes to sexuality?  –  Gabriela Leite

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

The defense of choice for non-violent sex offenders, plus “autism”:

A longtime conservative activist will spend up to two years in prison after he admitted to collecting hundreds of sexually explicit images of children — but defense attorneys blamed his autism and depression.  Christian Hine, of Fort Mill, S.C…was arrested…after FBI agents raided his home and seized his electronic devices, where investigators found more than 700 images…[which] had been shared thousands of times for more than a decade.  Hine’s attorneys…said his autism disorder had left him unable to communicate well or socialize normally with others.  They said that caused him to become addicted to pornography, which then led him to search for images of children instead of adults…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now 

that Dallas cops brutalized & caged two old women and stole over half a million dollars from them because they gave “happy ending” massages:

Two North Texas women were arrested…over allegations that they operated a brothel at the Dallas Doll House massage parlor…the North Texas Trafficking Taskforce arrested the women on federal charges…Connie Su Moser, 63…is the owner of the parlor…Kum Shugars, 67, [is] a manager…[cops stole] about $420,000 from Moser’s home, $70,000 in her bank accounts and her 2015 Lexus…

The Public Eye Robert Sepulveda Jr

Another sex worker on a TV reality show:

The formula behind Logo’s Finding Prince Charming certainly seemed stale, until…several LGBTQ news outlets reported that the bachelor at the center of the show’s romantic competition may allegedly have been a sex worker in the past …Unicorn Booty and Next posted pictures of Robert Sepulveda Jr.’s former Rentboy.com profile, along with pictures of his penis…from…Str8UpGayPorn.com.  Next  described Sepulveda’s former work…as a “sordid past”…[then a few paragraphs later piously declared that] “Sex work — porn or prostitution — is nothing to be ashamed of”…

King of the Hill

Mostly just a lot of prohibitionist posturing, but contains Chicago’s first claim to one of the top “sex trafficking hub” spots: “Chicago ranks third in the country for the highest levels of human trafficking

Under Every Bed

Make sure you swallow your drink before reading this:

Sex trafficking is happening in Iowa, and not just in the state’s biggest cities…In any given month, there are nearly 900 sex workers in Iowa…[soi-disant] experts gave the audience…warning signs for people who come into a hospital or other health care facility and may be trafficking victims

Public Service Announcement (#330)

It’s almost like he wants to get caught:

…While his wife, Huma Abedin, travels the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton…disgraced ex-congressman [Anthony Weiner] has been sexting with a busty brunette out West — and even sent her a…crotch shot with his toddler son in the picture…shortly after 3 a.m. on July 31, 2015…the cringe-inducing image…shows a bulge in his white, Jockey-brand boxer briefs and his son cuddled up to his left, wrapped in a light-green blanket…Moments after forwarding the photo, Weiner freaked out over the possibility he had accidentally posted it publicly — just as he did during the infamous episode that forced him to resign from Congress in 2011…

Paint By Numbers

Do whatever it was you were going to do anyway, but declare that you’re doing it to “fight sex trafficking”; stupid people will believe you and give you money:

…We are excited to offer you a curated selection of vintage wedding gowns…Proceeds from all sales go to support Adorned in Grace’s mission of fighting sex trafficking through awareness, aftercare, and prevention…“I have never stopped being captured by the beautiful idea of taking a wedding dress and turning it into something that incredibly blesses someone who is vulnerable and hurting. Everyone deserves to be held up like a bride, beautiful and valuable. Sex trafficking takes that away and the ability to restore that with dresses is powerful.” – Kate Wilkins, founding volunteer of AIG…

Uncommon Sense (#345)

Kudos to the IWW for supporting sex workers in Iceland:

There is no sex worker-led organisation or service provider for sex workers in Iceland.  Stígamót…is the only organisation that provides services to sex workers.  However, they consider all sex workers as victims of violence.  Loi…contacted IWW- Iceland (Industrial Workers of the World) asking if they would be interested in…organising sex workers in Iceland…On the 30 of July IWW organised a meeting for sex workers, their supporters and decriminalisation activists…

Shame, Shame Amy Sharp

I really admire this lady’s chutzpah:

…Amy Sharp…escaped from [a jail in Sydney]…just after 3pm on [August 26th]…The police statement…was accompanied by [a typical humiliating mugshot which was] shared to Sydney’s 7 News Facebook page.  Almost immediately, Sharp commented on the post from her personal profile with a more flattering image of herself and a simple request.  “can you use this photo, please and thank you 😇  Yours Truly, Amy Sharp xx”…She was later [re-]arrested…[and] despite Sharp’s polite request, 7 News Sydney [proved itself a handmaiden to the police state by using] her mugshots in a follow-up post

Oh, and the “crime” for which she was arrested in the first place?  An “outstanding warrant”.

Hard Numbers (#624)

Signing a pledge that condemns what you do, as a condition for protecting the health of your community, goes against everything we know about H.I.V. prevention and sex work…Any action or policy that reinforces stigma around sex work not only contributes to bad health outcomes, but perpetuates bad laws and stigmas against “bad sex.”  This is consistent with our experiences in Brazil, the experiences of sex workers globally, scientific research and international recommendations.  This is why Davida…fought the anti-prostitution pledge alongside the Brazilian National AIDS Program in partnership with dozens of sex worker rights and AIDS organizations in 2005…the country turned down $40 million for H.I.V. prevention…Sex workers need to be protagonists of these programs, not just receivers of them…

Dysphemisms Galore (#633) 

There’s something especially nasty about reporters gloating over popular stars’ sex worker siblings:

The sister of pop star Mariah Carey has been arrested on prostitution charges in upstate New York…Alison Carey was arrested [in a sting] at a hotel…she identified herself as the performer’s sister when she was arrested and…an Internet search of the two women appeared to confirmed the claim…[they] have been estranged “for years.”  Police described Carey as a transient and said she advertised her services online…

Obviously that wasn’t enough, so the cops insinuated that there were rumors that Carey had some kind of STI.

To Molest and Rape 

Amy Lange thinks a cop groping a woman is “shocking”.  She’s obviously what I’d call “sheltered”:

Shocking allegations against a member of the Dearborn Police Department.  In May it was alleged a [cop] groped a woman during a traffic stop…Justin Smith, 36, was charged with a felony, criminal sexual conduct…The court file is [of course] currently suppressed at the request of the prosecutor…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now (#667) 

Canada really is trying to be more like the US.  But at least in Canada, the protests are a bit louder:

Experts in privacy and civil rights are raising questions about a police news conference that identified 27 men caught in a Cape Breton prostitution sting, saying the move amounted to unnecessary “public shaming”…provincial court Judge Brian Williston [naturally] rejected a legal challenge from one of the accused…[Abby] Deshman [of the CCLU] said that line of reasoning doesn’t recognize the impact of holding a news conference to draw attention to the accused…”Absent some risk to public safety, just putting people’s names out there who haven’t been convicted of any crime yet really has an enormous impact on these individuals’ lives and livelihood”…Deshman said the damage to reputations can’t be repaired if charges are later withdrawn or not guilty verdicts are recorded…

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glowing nudeSometimes, the most difficult part of doing my news columns is deciding what subtitle to use for a given article.  To be sure, many of them are obvious, but that’s not always the case; sometimes I remember a previous story I want to link back to, but for the life of me can’t remember what heading that one was under.  And even if I can remember a few details of the original to search on, that doesn’t always help; for example, a few months ago I was trying to refer back to an article on strip club restrictions, but searching for “stripper”, “strip club” and even just “strip” wouldn’t find it.  When I finally located it after half an hour of digging, I discovered the reason: the original article had used the phrase “exotic dancers”.  Another thing that can make a heading tough to remember is topical drift; new stories refer back to older stories, then newer stories refer back to the update and so on, and after a while the heading doesn’t actually apply very well to what’s appearing under it.  Sometimes I start using a new title for a certain kind of article, after a new full column on the subject appears (such as the recent shift from filing rapist cops under “Above the Law” to filing them under “To Molest and Rape“), and once in a while I even intentionally change the focus of a heading in order to collect stories on one theme which previously appeared under different headings (as I did two years ago with “Rooted in Racism“).

However, I think this may be the first time that I’ve ever written a new column expressly for the purpose of creating such a new heading.  I’ve recently run into several stories about the effects of sex businesses on neighborhoods, and every fucking time I have forgotten which title the last one ran under.  So then I’ve had to go through the pain of finding the last such article, but can’t remember the phrasing it used so the process takes forever.  Well, no more; from now on such articles will appear under this heading.  Previously, such articles have appeared under the not-terribly-intuitive title “What a Week!“, due to the aforementioned topical drift:  the original of that name was an early news column which featured a story about a mega-brothel being built in Spain, then a couple of later ones referred back to it for a mega-brothel being built in Sydney, then another discussed a study done for the licensing of said brothel which demonstrated that the concept of “negative secondary effects” is essentially bullshit.  And obviously, subsequent stories referred back to that.  “Negative secondary effects” is the term used by prudes and authoritarians to make the concept of “sex rays” seem something other than ludicrous; this disproven dogma claims that the very existence of an adult business magically draws crime, and turns men into drooling sex maniacs who then go forth and rape women (hence the pious charade of directing a portion of “pole taxes” to finance rape and domestic violence charities or anti-whore programs).  As a quick perusal of that last cluster of links will demonstrate, stories about claims of such effects mysteriously and malefically emanating from strip clubs rather than brothels or massage parlors have until now appeared under “First They Came for the Hookers” along with stories about former sex workers being fired from post-sex work jobs for having been sex workers.  From here on out, any articles either claiming the existence of such baleful effects or debunking such claims will appear under this heading, whether that business is a strip club, brothel, adult toy store or whatever.  So maybe now I won’t be quite so frustrated the next time I encounter such a story.

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When Christina was considering sex work a few years ago, she discovered my blog and read voraciously before actually starting the work, so I’m her whore-mama.  She’s turning into a hell of an activist, and I’m very proud of her; she also has a blog of her own

He’s nervous.  His voice on the phone is shy as he introduces himself.  “Hi. I reached out to you on Reddit…?”

Of course.  I chime in on anonymous social media when the topic of sex work comes up.  In this case it was the recent sting at the Euro Spa which I wrote about a few weeks ago.  I received a message from one of the gentlemen who got caught in the net.  He felt lost, afraid, as if his whole future were at risk and he had no one to reach out to so he reached out to me.  I leaped at the chance to speak with someone who lived this experience and offered to meet for coffee or to talk on the phone, whatever he felt comfortable with.  A few days passed and I thought it likely that he wasn’t comfortable, maybe I had come on too strong, and I wouldn’t hear from him again but this afternoon a ring interrupted my poolside reading.  We agreed to meet at a nearby public park and just talk; I wanted to reassure him that he wasn’t alone, offer what help I could, and record a step by step walk-through of what he experienced.  I’ll refrain from describing him physically, to keep his anonymity as safe as possible, but my first impression was that he was nervous, relieved that I was who I said I was, embarrassed to go into details.  He is exactly the kind of client I would NOT like deterred from seeing sex workers and yet his experience may keep him from being one of the many kind and respectful clients who allow me and my sisters financial security and are enjoyable to see in session.

It started, as it often does, with stress and loneliness.  Intimacy is often difficult for shy, busy people and many turn to the professionalism and convenience of sex workers to find much needed human connection.  In this digital age, he went online to find a solution and found it in a Backpage advertisement for “massage” complete with a photo of “a scantily clad woman and a massage table.”  He reasoned that an establishment was a safer gamble than one of the many independent Backpage advertisers so, early on a Wednesday evening, he called to make sure they were open and then made his way to what he assumed would be an hour of intimate physical touch.  He had an idea that there would be sexual contact involved, and that was one of the attractions for him, but until he spoke to the woman working the room he wasn’t sure exactly what.  Walking in the door, he looked to his left to see a twenty-something woman behind a desk.  He remembers a black dress and a red bra, that she was very clear in both words and hand gestures what she was offering, that she didn’t show any signs of abuse or coercion or of being underage, and that as soon as she offered sex, he knew that was what he wanted.Seattle entrapment

“Hi. I’d like a massage.”

“OK, but extras cost more.”

“What kind of extras?”

“A handjob, or sex for a hundred.”

“Sex.”

He handed over his 100$ and she showed him down a hall into a dimly lit room with a massage table and pleasant but forgettable decorations in it.  He waited for her but before long, and much to his surprise, two plainclothes detectives entered the room and cuffed him.  The detectives walked him outside (in handcuffs!) and upstairs where he sat, still and quiet.  The entire process had taken less than five minutes.  Five or ten minutes later he was joined by another cuffed man, far less calm.  A few minutes after that the two were escorted to a car and taken to the police station where he spent the next six hours behind bars and undergoing various booking procedures including fingerprinting and changing into prison orange.  He didn’t want to say much about what the other victims of the sting said or did (especially the one he rode to jail with), because he didn’t want to try to tell someone else’s story for them; however it was clear to me that whatever they did and said left its mark on him.  Finally released at one in the morning, he went home and tried to forget about it.  When I asked how he felt, he said he felt calm the whole time, as if he was just an observer and this wasn’t really happening to him.

But two days later, a uniformed cop walked into his place of business and the reality of his situation hit him like a sledgehammer to the gut.  Thoughts raced through his mind: Are they here for me?  What if my boss finds out?  What if my coworkers find out?  As it turned out, the cop was only there to grab a bite to eat; three days prior that wouldn’t have given my new friend a second thought, but now it sent his heart rate through the roof.  That night he finally flipped through the documents police had sent him home with and began to worry.  He is, as of our meeting on July 29th, still waiting for his court date to be set.  He calls and asks every day so he knows right away how long he has to prepare.  Not that he can do much; mired in student debt and unable to get outside support, he will have an overworked and underpaid public defender as his counsel, facing an aggressive “end demand” agenda driven by vast private funds.  He will likely face fines upward of $2700, not including miscellaneous court fees and the cost of the ridiculous and ineffective “John School”.  Why?  In what universe is someone seeking services from an aggressively, provocatively dressed woman blatantly and casually offering sex for money the same as a “human trafficker” or an abuser?  How does financially crippling a young man just starting his life build up our community?  What good does it do to saddle someone, anyone, with the ambiguous and damning crime of “sexual exploitation” when all they did was offer payment to a willing, adult sexual partner?  Who benefits from traumatizing him for a nonviolent transaction?  Not me, not you, and not him.  The $100 he thought he was paying for some intimate human contact is a drop in the bucket compared to the cash SPD will net from this sting and from the continued financial support of privately funded anti-prostitution organizations; it will also provide free campaign publicity for pro-Swedish model public officials.  My heart goes out to him and his 203 fellow detainees, and I hope that we can help them.

NAUWUHe was brave to agree to meet with me after such an experience, and he was careful not to accidentally out his fellow clients.  He said he did it because he hoped that his story would help:  help the push towards decriminalizing sexual services; help someone else in his predicament find comfort; help humanize the clients facing criminal charges; and help lessen his own ordeal by letting him get it off his chest to someone who could listen without judging.  There are 203 other stories much like this.  Men from all walks of life who felt bored, horny, lonely, busy, curious or whatever, who sought a consenting adult to help them assuage whatever they felt, are all painted with the same black brush: evil, stupid, and shameful.  But it is the use of police resources to persecute consenting adults under the guise of ending abuse which is evil, stupid and shameful, and we need to call for its end.  If you are one of the 203 others, or another victim of law enforcement actions against those seeking sex workers, I invite you to contact me.  The sex worker community has done good work toward humanizing the providers of sexual services but we also need to humanize clients and advocate for their rights.  By striking down the laws against the simple act of exchanging sexual services for money, our government can focus resources on the victims and perpetrators of violent crime and leave the rest of us alone.

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It’s easy to see sex traffickers everywhere when you define all sex workers as victims.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Check Your Premises

Once again, Liz Brown exposes the tyranny of “fighting sex trafficking”:

Here’s a good example out of El Paso about the way America’s fight against “child sex trafficking” works in practice…two girls—one 15 and one 17—had sex with clients for money, and the boy, who is 18, rented the hotel room in his name and acted as security.  Now he’s locked up on child sex-trafficking charges…Edeme Missiadan…and the two girls…”Lexi” and “Natalia,” are from Phoenix.  One of the girls was dating Missiadan’s brother…and…planned to come to El Paso by herself to work, but Missiadan didn’t want her to go “without protection”…literally anything that makes sex workers safer is considered to be sex trafficking.  Bring along a bodyguard?  He’s a sex trafficker.  Have a friend drive you to a client and wait outside?  She’s a sex trafficker.  Use a booker or escort agency to screen clients?  They’re sex traffickers!  Search for clients via online ads instead of on the streets?  The Internet is a sex trafficker!…People hate the idea that innocent young things might actually choose to sell sex on their own accord.  But some do.  And…treating anyone who assists them in any way—including other teenagers—like a serious criminal doesn’t help anyone…

Public Service Announcement 

Are politicians actually stupider than other people, or does it just seem that way?

Amid allegations that he shared sexually explicit video of himself via his state computer, [Nebraska state] Sen. Bill Kintner appears to have been snagged by a well-documented internet scam.  Since at least 2013, international media outlets and  government agencies have warned people against engaging in nude or sexual live video chats with online strangers who could later use them for blackmail…

Shift in the Wind

Another health organization issues a pro-decrim report:

A report by the Centre for Health and Gender Equity (Change) explores the many barriers to health and rights that female sex workers face.  The report highlights evidence that laws criminalising sex work put female sex workers at disproportionately high risk of harassment and violence by police, clients and intimate partners.  Criminalisation also encourages female sex workers to move their work “underground” where they have less control of their working conditions, including condom use and client screening, and are less able to access essential health services…Based on Change’s examination of peer-reviewed articles and extensive interviews with practitioners and advocates, the report concludes that decriminalisation of sex work is necessary for female sex workers to fully realise their rights and is necessary for an effective global HIV response…

So Close and Yet So Far

You’re supposed to be a libertarian, Gary; this ain’t rocket science:

In a CNN town hall…Anderson Cooper asked Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson whether he supported the decriminalization of prostitution.  In a somewhat muddled answer, Johnson said he would leave it up to individual states and applauded the system in…Nevada…There are so many easy libertarian answers on this one—that there’s no place for the state in consenting sexual relationships between adults; that prostitution prohibition creates many of the same harms we saw with alcohol and drug prohibition…it was disappointing that Johnson appeared to be caught off-guard by the question and seemed visibly uncomfortable with the topic.  But his answer, while not perfect, may have been forgivable had Cooper not pressed him: “Is prostitution a victimless crime?”  Johnson responded that currently, “the victims are the prostitutes”…here I thought totally denying women’s agency was the purview of Democrats and Republicans…I reached out to the Johnson campaign for clarification, and received an answer from its communication director, Joe Hunter…All he would say about what Johnson meant last night was this: “In an illegal environment, prostitutes are at risk.”  It’s not much, but it suggests that Johnson believes the victimhood he attributed to sex workers stems from the illegal nature of prostitution, not that he thinks anyone selling sexual services must be doing so unwillingly.

Smoke and Mirrors

Another of those cases whose reported details don’t add up:

A missing 12-year-old San Antonio girl has been found alive…On June 20, she was outside her home listening to music when she disappeared…no one knew her whereabouts until two weeks ago when she texted her family…Authorities tracked the girl down to a hotel near Nashville.  She was with 36-year-old Tavarie Anthony Williams…[who] has since been arrested, accused of pimping her out and holding her against her will…Williams…[supposedly] offered her a ride home, but drove her to Tennessee instead…“Her mother may have had a role in all this, but it’s still too soon to say,” [cop] spokesman James Keith said…It could be many weeks before the girl returns to San Antonio.  She’s with a foster family, in therapy, but in constant communication with the grandfather…

Williams “offered her a ride home” from her own front yard, where she was listening to music?  And if she had a cell phone, why wait two weeks to text?  This story stinks on ice.

Under Every Bed

Just imagine how far $100,000 could’ve gone toward providing services; instead, it’s used to spread lies:

WEST NC, a new, two-year project to end sex trafficking in five mountain counties, aims to educate the public and service providers…A $100,000 grant from the Women for Women giving circle is funding WEST NC through Our VOICE…Angelica Wind…says the big “goal is to end human trafficking in this area…people are really surprised that human trafficking happens in Asheville”…trafficking often occurs in wealthy or relatively wealthy areas where there’s demand, along with access to major highways and an airport…“Where there are sex workers, there’s also human trafficking”…Nearby major metro areas — Atlanta and Charlotte — have seen significant increases in human trafficking in recent years…

The End of the Beginning

Nearly all “sex offender” laws are this unconstitutionally overbroad:

Sex offenders in Illinois are challenging the state law that bans them from entering parks, schools, places providing services for kids, and even “holiday events involving children”…the rules are so vague that they can’t always tell if or when they are breaking the law.  For instance, if a sex offender plays a round of golf on a municipal course—a solitary, adult activity—is that legal (because kids aren’t around) or illegal (because it’s on parks department land, and therefore a park)?…one of the plaintiffs…would like to visit his granddaughter, but she lives within 500 feet of her subdivision’s playground.  Is it legal for him to see her at her home?  “State police told him he was allowed to visit as long as he walked straight from his car and back — but the local cops said he wasn’t allowed to be there at all“…

Drawing Lines

Not a bad introduction to the concept of whorearchy:

…many sex workers look…down on others with “lesser” jobs.  This hierarchy [isn’t] based on money.  If anything, the highest earners [are] often looked down upon…many individuals choose to work as pro-dominatrixes or dancers “because they don’t have sex, give blowjobs, or exchange body fluids.  They feel superior to those who do.  They use contact as a meter”…A few strippers told me they didn’t think stripping was sex work at all, since they didn’t have to touch any of their clients…This is underscored by the legal boundaries, which are more permissive toward no-contact activities (like stripping) than high-contact activities (like prostitution)…Other sex workers [are] less judgmental about physical contact and instead prioritise…enjoyment of their work…A porn producer, cam girl, and stripper…each told me that the people they admire most in their industry are those who “really love what they do” or are sex workers because “it’s something they’ve always wanted to do”…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#526) 

Despite its appearance in a rag like Rolling Stone, this is an excellent article:

…a Wisconsin appeals court upheld a decision to try…as adults…two girls [who] admitted as 12-year-olds in 2014 to having stabbed their friend in order to please “Slender Man,” an Internet horror meme.  (The victim luckily crawled to safety and survived.)  The decision to try two children as adults – two children immature and mentally ill enough to believe in the literal existence of a fictional character – may seem inappropriate, to put it mildly.  But legally it’s a viable one – thanks to a terrible Wisconsin law with analogues in many other states…Morgan Geyser, who wielded the knife, has since been diagnosed with early-onset schizophrenia…Anissa Weier [was diagnosed] with a delusional disorder and schizotypy…after the two stabbed their friend, they set off to find Slender Man in a forest 300 miles away – on foot.  Mental health professionals testified that Geyser still believes Slender Man is real…The Wisconsin code…is designed to keep cases where the alleged offense is particularly heinous in adult court – which doesn’t make much sense.  The egregiousness of a crime is not evidence of some maturity or self-control that could justify treating a child like an adult.  It’s irrational to say children don’t really choose to commit bad acts except when those acts are really shocking…

Turning Point

More and more groups are speaking up in favor of sex work decriminalization:

It’s a big day for the new civil rights movement known as Black Lives Matter.  Up until now, the movement had famously opted to forgo hierarchies in favor of a diffuse coalition that more resembled Occupy Wall Street than, say, the ‘60s-era Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.  The movement’s decentralized approach has been criticized in the past, and its activists have butted heads with both civil rights leaders and the Obama administration. But on [August 1st]  Black Lives Matter made a decision to be a movement with a plan, a platform, and concrete demands.  In a statement released by more than 30 organizations (and endorsed by an additional 50), BLM released six platform demands and “key solutions”—a list of more than 40 policy recommendations, including…an immediate and retroactive decriminalization of drug and sex-work offenses…

Uncommon Sense (#650)

How does this dude think he’ll get around UK brothel & avails laws?

A company plans to set up a “fellatio café” in central London where customers receive oral sex while having a cappuccino.  Bradley Charvet…is already planning a branch in Geneva to open this December…the business would be like a “normal café” where up to 100 customers can sit and drink a coffee – but also be given oral sex by an escort.  Modelled on similar businesses in Thailand, the idea has already sparked uproar in Switzerland…Westminster City Council has indicated to the Standard that such a venue would not be able to get a licence and it has also been slammed by a leading womens’ rights group.  It could also fall foul of the law as, in Great Britain, prostitution is not illegal but running or owning a brothel or pimping are considered crimes…

A bit of hair-splitting:  a sex worker who sells blow jobs but doesn’t otherwise interact with her client isn’t an escort.

Cooties (#650)

Being a “legal” sex worker doesn’t protect you, so stop your bootlicking & join your sisters in the fight:

…The work [Arianna] Travaglini does is legal, and she…didn’t work out of the Airbnbs she rented.  She claims she “never had a single problem” with Airbnb until she realized she was banned while trying to book a trip to Baltimore and Washington, D.C, where she would teach sex-ed workshops…The email she received…is a form letter, basically identical to one Airbnb sent professional dominatrix and porn performer Julie Simone in March.  Simone faced almost the same problem with Airbnb, receiving a swift ban without explanation shortly after signing up…Asked…whether Airbnb has a policy on sex work, legal or otherwise, a spokesman for Airbnb didn’t elaborate much. “Prostitution is not allowed and we are constantly reviewing the platform to be sure any activity in the listing is in line with what hosts would be ok with in their home,” a spokesperson explained…the reality is that people are going to have sex in Airbnbs, especially if you’re renting to a couple.  It’s even possible that, *gasp,* some will bring a new friend back to an Airbnb for sex…

A Procrustean Bed (#651)

The idea that sex workers might be neither criminals nor victims is too much for the tiny, narrow minds of politicians:

…More than 30 bills this legislative session alone have attempted to combat a multibillion-dollar industry that now operates as much online, if not more, as it does on the streets.  But much of the legislation, still pending as lawmakers return to Sacramento for their final month of deliberations, varies in its approach to the problem…The proposals run the gamut, from providing protections for human trafficking victims in court to enhancing penalties for sex buyers…one…bill…would allow the seizure and impoundment of a vehicle used in the solicitation of prostitution…opponents are concerned some of the laws could lead to unconstitutional seizures and violations of defendants’ rights…[pigs lust for] the authority to arrest minors to hold them in secure facilities, where they can be [forced to accept “services”]…

A lot of bullshit numbers are repeated, and one prohibitionist in the story says, “I don’t think this is the end of the road, but we are in a precipice of sea change with how we deal with human trafficking…” Holy mixed metaphors, Batman!

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Human trafficking is the new charge du jour.  –  Brian Thompson

Anatomy of a Boondoggle arrested Thai sex workers

Just in case you thought cops raping whores in order to arrest them was mostly a US thing:

…Sa…is from Laos and…[has] been arrested many times, mostly when a police officer who had been her client had informed on her…”They took me out…and…had sex with me.  Next thing I knew I was arrested and sent home”…the superintendent of Udon Thani city police, said the law specifically mentioned that to make an arrest for prostitution…the sex worker has to be caught in the act…Nid is from a Karen hill tribe village and is considered a “star” hostess at a bar in Chiang Mai.  Like Sa, she was “lured” to her arrest by a police officer who was a client…Chantawipa Apisuk, the director of Empower who has been working with sex workers for more than 30 years, said the methods the police used to secure an arrest are unacceptable…in Nid’s case…police produced marked banknotes allegedly handed over to her and a used condom as evidence…

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

A Brooklyn jury…convicted a sexual predator for the rape and robbery of a prostitute while pretending to be a [cop]…Jason Forgetta flashed a fake police badge to a female sex worker who stopped his car…on July 30, 2014…The 26-year-old victim agreed to go with Forgetta to [her incall]…when he told her she was under arrest…Forgetta…shoved the woman against the wall, put a pillow over her head and raped her…[he then] told the woman to take a shower to “wash all the DNA” off…[and] stole her wallet, cellphone and underwear.  As he fled the scene, the woman ran after him and wrote down [his] license plate [number]…Forgetta…was convicted in 2004 for committing the same…crime.  He was sentenced to three years in prison in that case…

Lack of Evidence

This is pretty typical of the level of “evidence” in sex work trials:

A woman accused of running a brothel out of a Baltimore County massage parlor was acquitted of all charges…Di Zhang…was found not guilty…of 15 offenses, including human trafficking and prostitution…”There was very little evidence in the case,” said Zhang’s attorney, Brian Thompson…the state had one witness who worked at the business and claimed Zhang was running it…But when police kept watch at the business for several weeks, they only observed Zhang there once…to drop off some medication for the witness…Thompson said police were targeting Zhang after a previous case…Police wrote in charging documents that Zhang “continues to run illegal massage parlors without fear of the police or court systems”…

The Proper Study

This is, of course, obvious to sex workers, but it’s nice to see academics discovering it:

Most migrant sex workers are satisfied with their working conditions in Australia…Despite growing fears about human trafficking…the vast majority are content to be working in massage parlours and brothels for a satisfactory income, and that there is little evidence of widespread sex slavery.  The Australian Institute of Criminology and the Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) surveyed 594 sex workers across Australia, 412 of whom were migrants. Most were female, with only 17 male and eight transgender respondents…One in five were married; one in three were parents; and while a small number had little to no education, the majority were highly educated. About one third said they did not speak English well…

The Punitive Mindset (#337)

Some countries…make condoms available to prisoners, while others cite security issues, or blanket prohibitions of sex…Even in places where condoms are available, guards sometimes limit distribution as a form of control.  In the medical journal The Lancetresearchers at Johns Hopkins cite this as one factor in the spread of infectious diseases in prisons…at rates far exceeding those in the communities from which they came.  Of more than 10 million incarcerated people in the U.S. alone, 4 percent have HIV, 15 percent have hepatitis C, and 3 percent have active tuberculosis.  These diseases are part of our criminal justice system, then, metered out and sanctioned implicitly by the state.  The penal system is also a primary reason that these diseases can’t be eliminated globally…The scale of the problem is due to the fact that so many people are incarcerated in the first place, which [researcher Chris] Beyrer traces to the war on drugs…

Paint By Numbers po-faced twits folding paper

Even in the world of stupid “sex trafficking” publicity stunts, this one is painfully stupid:

A piece of blue paper folded into the shape of a crane bird is a traditional symbol of origami.  In Japan, it’s believed that 1,000 of those symbolise hope, love, honour, and peace.  It’s also believed that if you have the patience to fold 1,000 pieces, your most desired wish will come true.  UCC student Laura Pauwels’s wish is to bring hope to survivors of and people affected by human trafficking.  And so she’s enlisted the help of Corkonians to make that wish come true — together, they will fold 1,000 blue cranes to make a stand against the illegal act…

Traffic Circle

Here’s a long, thorough debunking of “sex trafficking” hysteria by Brittany Turner of SWOP-Shreveport:

In the past year, local broadcast and print media have covered numerous stories regarding the perils of sex trafficking in Shreveport, without exercising due diligence to accurately assess the reality of this problem or the efficacy of anti-trafficking programs. This coverage often excludes key stakeholders from the conversation: sex workers themselves. Instead, the coverage frequently relies on inaccurate data and anecdotal evidence, corralling those who have chosen to work in the sex industry under the umbrella of “trafficking victims,” effectively silencing the voice of many sex workers…

Devil’s Advocate

As usual, the government’s using someone accused of especially nasty crimes to undermine liberty for everyone:

A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed…Experts also warned these demands [will] probably not [be interpreted by cop-worshiping courts as] a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination…The authorities were unable to access the phone’s contents…[because] if a iPhone [sic] that has been fingerprint enabled has not been used for at least 48 hours, both the password and fingerprint are required to unlock it…Martavious Banks Keys…is charged with one count of sex trafficking of children…He allegedly forced two girls, ages 14 and 15, to have sex with men who paid him $150 a session…One girl told authorities that Keys made her perform anal sex when her vagina was bleeding from abuse…

Counter-Countermeasure

I’m not really sure why this article is discussing a two-year-old study as if it’s new, but I really don’t care.  All that’s important is that more and more mainstream media are presenting information that debunks “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…The results contradict some of the most common stereotypes we have about sex trafficking and sex work.  For example, only 14 percent of female New York respondents said that they worked for a pimp, and in New Jersey that number was just 13 percent including males and females; 47 percent in New Jersey said that they didn’t even know a pimp.  Most reported that they had not been introduced to sex work by a stranger at all, but rather by a family member or family friend, and most said that they were not forced into sex work by any one person, but rather because of a lack of housing, or money, or that they couldn’t get by on low-paying jobs.  The…research also calls into question the narrative of helpless girls and violent pimps who throw them into hotel-brothels…Busting the myths matters, because we pass laws and make policies that don’t help the people who need it most…

The More the Better (#544)

I’d be much happier with an article doing something like this for escorting, since there are literally thousands of escorts for every Nevada brothel worker.  However, every little bit helps to undermine the “sin and degradation” narrative:

Insatiably curious about what the process for becoming a legal, full-time sex worker might look like, I couldn’t help but wonder how a person even begins to go about working at a place like one of Nevada’s brothels.  Did someone like me have what it takes to become the object of another person’s desire?  Well, one cursory Google search later later, I discovered these places actually have online applications for employment!  And that is how I ended up applying for a job at Sheri’s Ranch…

Property of the State (#640) 

It’s impossible to overstate how important this reversal is:

The Indiana Court of Appeals…overturned the 2015 feticide conviction of Purvi Patel…In a 3-0 ruling, the judges said that the state feticide statute was not intended to apply to abortions, and legal experts said that…it should give Indiana prosecutors pause before bringing similar charges against pregnant women in the future…the court relied heavily on how prosecutors have applied the feticide law in the past, noting that this case was an “abrupt departure” from its typical usage:  cases in which a pregnant woman and her unborn child are the victims of violence…It stopped short of clearing her of any criminal responsibility…upholding a lower-level felony neglect conviction for failing to provide medical care to the baby, who medical experts testified was alive and breathing after birth…

If It Were Legal (#656)

I’m rather skeptical of the claimed disparity here, but at least they’re not pretending the escorts flocked from out of town for the conference:

It’s been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland…Republican National Convention attendees…are clamoring for their services.  “Business has been way better. I’ve seen 10 clients so far,” one male escort said…Another escort said he had already earned $1,600 since Monday — over six times the amount he usually makes…But ladies of the night weren’t reaping the same benefits…females for hire said they’re making much less money than normal…

To Molest and Rape (#657)

And please don’t think South Africa is any worse than the US in this respect:

More than 400 sex workers reported cases of abuse at the hands of the police between 2011 and 2015, according to a Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) report on cases of physical assault‚ rape‚ harassment and unlawful arres…414 sex workers reported 682 instances of abuse‚ mostly harassment and verbal abuse at the hands of the police.  Almost 20% of those who reported police abuse said they had been physically assaulted and 3% said they had been sexually assaulted…

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Two weeks ago today I published a guest post by Madison Graham; if you haven’t read it yet, you should do so before proceeding with this one.  I’ve never published a rebuttal to a guest column before, because no one has ever asked me to; however, since the writer of this one, Christina Parreira, is a previous guest columnist herself who is knowledgeable on this subject, I saw no reason to decline her request.  In the future, I will entertain submissions for rebuttals or responses as long as  A) I have reason to believe the respondent knows what she’s talking about; B) the response stays cordial and mostly factual, without opinions clearly expressed as such; and C) the response is submitted in a timely manner, so that I can publish it in the same month as the original if possible.

Since I’m writing this in response to Madison’s article, I think it is important for readers to know how I came to know of Madison, aka DeAnne Holiday (this is not an outing- she uses both names on her Twitter handle).  Approximately 8 months ago, she angrily messaged me on Twitter over something I had tweeted.  I asked management who she was; I was told that she was a former working girl but was not able to book clients, so they gave her a job as publicist so that she could earn a living.  Hence, her Twitter handle of “Angry Publicist”, and she is certainly angry; I do not claim to know why she was let go from the ranch, but I do know that her Twitter feed is a constant and vitriolic campaign against Hof and his working girls.  She is constantly making fun of girls who work for Hof (including jabs at their appearance and disparaging comments about “illegal” work).  She has made remarks about my own life ending soon, even going so far as to claim that I deserve to be strangled.  She accuses Hof of being a rapist and pedophile.  She calls one of the women at Sagebrush a “stupid lazy bitch.”  These are not opinions of mine, but mere facts that can be confirmed by reading her page. (Note from Maggie: her Twitter account was suspended sometime between writing & publication of this column.)

Now, onto her article about Hof and the Odom incident.  It rests on the premise that Hof was the one who called TMZ- this is in the absence of proof.  Nobody actually knows who called TMZ, period.  Also, I’m skeptical of the notion that a man is afforded secrecy when he himself has brought illicit drugs into a legal place of business, and then gets rolled out in an ambulance!  What is a business owner supposed to say when this happens?  Nothing?  Madison states that Lamar will never again get an endorsement deal; this is simply mere speculation.  She also slams Hof for “taking advantage” of the publicity, but it sought him.  Odom almost died at his brothel; that was not a story Hof needed to call the press over!  They were knocking down his door.

Next, she addresses drugs in the brothels, saying she has she’s never seen so many addicts since working in legal brothels, and claiming that women are allowed to continue working with drugs in the house.  I myself have seen drugs in the house; it happens, though not as often as Madison would have you believe (although this is just from my own personal experience).  I have also seen those same girls get fired once it was confirmed that they were using.  She claims they are told to pack up and go to rehab.  In reality, many are fired and never heard of again, while others (my guess is those that have been around a long time and are part of the family, so to speak) have been sent to rehab by Hof himself.  He has told me stories of paying for rehab in hopes that some of these women would stop using.  I think that’s very kind, but let’s not stray too much into opinion-land; let us get back to my observations.  As far as girls too drunk to work, I have never personally seen this, but I imagine it does happen.  What I have seen is girls get cut off before they begin to overdo it, and I remember one woman in particular who had an alcohol problem and was not served alcohol; she was not allowed to drink in the brothel or bring liquor in.  This may seem punitive to some, but it is a place of businesses and she would become unmanageable drunk (from what I heard).  I never saw her drunk behavior, but I did work with her during her drinking ban.

Love RanchMost of the article is Madison giving her opinions, “he has no empathy,” etc.  This is simply straying from facts; did he in fact call TMZ?  The legitimacy of the piece rests on the notion that he did, but that is something we will never know.  What I do know is that Odom brought the drugs himself, and that Nye county is not pressing charges.  By the way, did you know that money from the brothel licenses of Hof’s houses in Nye county go towards maintaining the EMS services which showed up to help Odom?  But what about publicity stunts like Hookers for Hillary?  I agree that was clearly a PR stunt for attention, but remember that Nevada brothels aren’t allowed to advertise by traditional means.  As Hof said to Bill Higgins in the book Nevada Rose: Inside the American Brothel, “I’m over the top, I’m a media whore.  What else can you do when your business can’t advertise?”

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