It’s a common misconception that prostitution is legal in Las Vegas. It’s not! Nevada, however, has nearly 25 legal brothels, and the most famous is the Moonlite BunnyRanch, six miles east of the state’s capital, Carson City. (A one-hour flight from Las Vegas to Reno, Nevada.)
Technically, the BunnyRanch is in Moundhouse, Nevada. No kidding. There are brothels closer to Las Vegas, but none are as colorful or well-known as the Moonlite BunnyRanch (they leave out the space in “BunnyRanch,” and so will we). The BunnyRanch was featured in a series on HBO, “Cathouse.”
During a recent visit to Reno and Lake Tahoe, this blog had the opportunity to get a tour of the BunnyRanch, and we’ve compiled a list of 25 vital things to know about this Nevada institution.
1. When you arrive, you get the “line-up.”
Ring the bell at the BunnyRanch, and girls from throughout the brothel are summoned for a line-up. Guests select a companion, and things get rolling from there.
2. The Moonlite BunnyRanch gives free tours.
Not everyone who visits a brothel is interested (or can afford) a party. The BunnyRanch has lots of visitors who are interested in learning more about brothels (as this blog clearly was), so the girls give free tours. They’re very informative, and depending upon who gives your tour, you’ll get an earful about what life is like for these intrepid women. Exactly zero of whom are interested in our judgements.
3. The women are independent contractors.
The women who work in brothels pay for the privilege of working in a brothel. They negotiate their own prices, and the brothel keeps half of what a customer pays. Fifty percent. The girls all get 1099 forms around tax time.
4. There are 40-50 women working at any one time.
The BunnyRanch has about 500 women licensed to work at the brothel, with 40-50 working at any particular time. The BunnyRanch is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
5. Some girls live at the brothel, others don’t.
The woman who gave our tour lives at the BunnyRanch. Girls who live there get their own bathroom, others have to share. The rooms are small but clean, and each girl gets to decorate her own room as she sees fit. Our girl’s room looked like a college dorm, and she even had a videogame controller on the bed. Nothing weird or seedy at all, thankfully.
6. Girls have to get medical exams, weekly.
The girls who work in brothels are legally required to get regular medical examinations. They have to pay for their own exams.
7. Visitors get a free menu of services.
Guests are given a free copy of the brothel’s services when they arrive. The menu lists specialties with names like “Dungeon,” “Girlfriend Experience,” “Love at the Y,” “Around the World,” “Sybian Experience,” “Whipped Cream Party” and “To Go Orders.”
8. Use your credit card, you’re covered.
In order to help customers keep their visits discreet, charges to one’s credit card show up as “Cash Advance, Lake Tahoe.” Our tour guide said charges can also show up as “American Adventure.” Either way, this procedure helps ensure what happens at the BunnyRanch stays at the BunnyRanch.
9. There’s a full bar and it’s really cheap.
The BunnyRanch has a fully-stocked bar, and the prices are very reasonable. We paid $13 plus tip for a Captain and diet and a beer.
10. The BunnyRanch has free wi-fi.
Hey, to some people, that’s more arousing than the fact they’re surrounded by 40-50 scantily-clad women.
11. The cashier has a nickname.
The girls at the brothel call the cashier the “Hooker Booker.”
12. Condoms are required. It’s the law.
Condoms are required no matter what acts are being performed. Oh, and they have to be latex. No lambskin allowed.
13. The owner has had sex with 4,000 women.
The owner of the BunnyRanch, and six other brothels in Nevada, claims to have had sex with 4,000 women, including all the women he’s employed at the BunnyRanch.
14. About 1,000 women a month apply to work at the BunnyRanch.
The money is really, really good. Many woman apply through the BunnyRanch Web site. “Parties” can start at around $1,000, but in many cases, an investment of several thousand dollars is involved. Applicants can’t have an arrest record with any connection to drugs, and anyone with a felony can’t work at the BunnyRanch five years from their date of conviction.
Update: While our tour guide implied BunnyRanch prices start at $1,000, we’ve since learned from Dennis Hof himself many girls will party for as little as $200. Customers generally spend between $200 and $600 during a visit. Hof also claims many of the women would rather make less money from a polite guy than party with a jerk for more money.
15. Eight percent of the business is women and couples.
Customers at the BunnyRanch tend to be men, but not exclusively. About 8% of the brothel’s income is derived from customers who are women seeking women, or couples who want another woman involved.
16. The BunnyRanch has a helicopter landing pad.
You never know when one might come in handy. The BunnyRanch also has a pool and three Jacuzzis (sign below).
17. There are discounts for members of the military.
While it’s not a formal policy, the girls give discounts to members of the military or veterans of 15-20%.
18. It’s a no-no to flirt with another girl’s customer.
There are lots of rules and policies at the Moonlite BunnyRanch. One is that girl’s have to respect boundaries when it comes to talking to another girl’s customer. It’s like a strip club. No poaching or there will be hell to pay.
19. Porn actor Ron Jeremy has his own patio.
Ron Jeremy is a frequent guest at the BunnyRanch, and had a porch built in his honor (photo below). The girl who gave us our tour commented, “That’s not actual size, believe me, I know.”
20. Successful prostitutes are great marketers.
Girls at the BunnyRanch often build up marketing databases and spend a good deal of time on Internet message boards and chats promoting themselves and staying in touch with their regular clients.
21. The “Cathouse” girls are pretty much all gone.
Fans of HBO’s “Cathouse” will be disappointed to hear most, if not all, of the women featured on the show have moved on to other things. While episodes of the show still air, the last season of the show was in 2007, so it’s been awhile.
22. There’s a gift shop.
You don’t have to be a patron of the brothel, or even the bar, to visit the BunnyRanch gift shop. The merchandise includes T-shirts (including the one we purchased), hats, beer koozies, HBO DVDs and shot glasses. Oh, and lots and lots of adult toys. Shocker. Bonus brothel trivia: People who visit the brothel, but don’t “party,” are called “tire-kickers.”
23. Dennis Hof was once engaged to Heidi Fleiss.
Yes, that Heidi Fleiss, commonly known as the “Hollywood Madam.” At one time, Fleiss announced she was going to open a brothel of her own, catering to women, “Heidi Fleiss’ Stud Farm.” It never happened.
24. Customers sometimes request girls who are lactating.
We have no idea what that’s all about.
25. There are lots of virgins.
Yes, there are a lot of virgins. Among customers, that is. Girls at the BunnyRanch seem to take great pride in the fact they’re the first for many young guests. They also seem to appreciate the fact those parties are generally briefer than most. It’s not uncommon for recent high school graduates to visit (you have to be 18 to party, 21 to visit the bar) with their graduation money paying for the experience. Many girls give special discounts to virgins. Customers vary greatly in age, as you might suspect. Our tour guide said, “We also get a lot of older men. They know how to tip and always seem very appreciative.”
Customers must be 18 or older to visit the Moonlite BunnyRanch. The BunnyRanch is located in Lyon County. Age requirements at other Nevada brothels vary by county.
Licensed prostitutes have to be at least 21, except in Storey County and Lyon County. There, the minimum age is 18.
Our visit to the Moonlite BunnyRanch was a fascinating glimpse into a world few of us know much about. Most of our assumptions were dead wrong.
Nevada is the only U.S. state to allow legal prostitution, and while brothels aren’t for everyone, they’re one of the things that make our state unique and a destination known around the world.
What does the Moonlite BunnyRanch have to do with Las Vegas? We have no idea, but in case you hadn’t noticed, like the girls in a brothel, this blog doesn’t live by society’s rules. We also give virgin discounts. Or would, if we ever encountered one. Then again, this isn’t Moundhouse, it’s Las Vegas.
Update (10/15/15): Moonlite BunnyRanch and its sister legal brothel, Love Ranch, made national news when Lamar Odom, former basketball star and ex-husband of reality TV star Khloé Kardashian, was found unresponsive after partying at Love Ranch over the course of several days. Brothel owner Dennis Hof stated publicly that while Lamar Odom has a history of drug use, Hof’s brothels have strict no-drug policy. Odom was transported by ambulance to Sunset Hospital in Las Vegas and several members of the Kardashian family, and his own, have visited the NBA player. We wish Lamar Odom all the best for a full recovery.