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Pay to Play: Nevada May Legalize Male Prostitutes

By L. K. Regan

Nevada is poised to legalize male prostitution in brothels, thanks to a request by a Nye county brothel owner. While these would in theory be straight prostitutes, the sheriff adjudicating the request, made by a brothel owner, acknowledges that there would be a high likelihood of gay clients. Is America ready for its first legal gay prostitutes?

Nevada is the only U.S. state with legal prostitution, all of it within regulated brothels. Until now, no law has specifically banned male prostitutes in those brothels, but they have been effectively blocked by a state Board of Health regulation mandating cervical exams for all members of the world's oldest profession. Since men have no cervix, compliance has been, well, impossible. But Shady Lady Ranch owner Bobbi Davis has seen business take a beating in recent years, and is looking to improve her client-base. "With so many other male revues going on in Vegas, we thought it was time to give this a try," Davis told The Associated Press. So, she filed a request with the health board to change the regulations; they agreed to a regulation allowing urethral testing for men in place of the usual cervical test for women. Both tests are designed to look for chlamydia and gonorrhea. All prostitutes are tested for HIV and syphillis as well.

The regulation has yet to receive county approval, but if it does, all agree that the door will be open to gay prostitution in Nevada. Says Sherrif De Meo, who oversees the Shady Lady Ranch's jurisdiction, "There's already same-sex activity going on with the females. I don't see how they're going to be able to stop male-on-male activities." Usually, he says, this occurs in the context of couples. "It was brought to my attention by members of my staff," he says, "many times a wife or a girlfriend will buy her husband or significant other a gift certificate, they will go in as a couple. [The females] will engage in same-sex activities. I don't think there's any brothel in Nevada that can deny that takes place." And while Davis says she has no plans to offer gay services in her brothel, she points out that the law doesn't prohibit it. "You can't discriminate. By state law, I can't say no. But at the same time every provider has a right to say no, they don't provide that type of service," she said. Since the prostitutes are independent contractors, however, it's equally likely that they will say, "Yes, I do provide that service!"

All of which means that Nevada may be brewing for a big prostitution battle. Said George Flint, a lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners' Association, "I think the Legislature is really going to give me some heartburn over this. But I think it's an inevitability, and the brothel association has reluctantly agreed to support this as a test." Could be an interesting test. Says Bobbi Davis, jokingly, "I ought to get the Viagra concession."