American Sex Industry Also Affected by Corona Many Brothels Houses are For Sale
＜The Corona disaster has hit all industries hard. The U.S., the world’s largest economy, is no exception, but compared to other industries, the sex industry is the one that is not in the spotlight. Nonfiction writer Soichi Hayashi follows the lives of American sex workers in the wake of the Corona disaster. ＞The annual income has dropped by a fifth.
Annual income cut to one-fifth
128.7 kilometers west of Las Vegas. A 975.4-square-meter building in Pahrump, 128.7 kilometers west of Las Vegas, has been put up for sale for $1.2 million.
The building is called “Love Ranch,” a former brothel with 15 rooms. Pahrump is one of the cities in Nevada, but the state is divided into 16 counties, 10 of which are legal to run brothels.
On October 13, 2015, former NBA star Lamar Odom fell into a critical state of unconsciousness at this LOVE RANCH. Odom had been in the area for three days and his condition suddenly changed as he was using cocaine and spending time with prostitutes. Immediately after his collapse, he was reported to be in a “very dangerous condition,” but he recovered and is now back in society.
LOVE RANCH was closed after the owner’s sudden death in October 2018, with no one to take over.
The RANCH business in Nevada has been estimated to generate $75 million a year. However, due to the spread of the new coronavirus, the business will be shut down from mid-March 2020 to the end of April 2021. This is according to the state’s decision. Naturally, the coronavirus will cause the prostitutes to lose their earnings.
Some of them have sued the state of Nevada, claiming their workers’ rights. Or they set up their own websites and tried to make money from online sex, but they are far from making enough money for 2019. A local newspaper in Las Vegas also picked up the blurb that the prostitute, who was making $100,000 a year, was now making $20,000.
According to FOX TV, the damage to the Las Vegas tourism business caused by Corona was $34 billion. The economic loss is -53.5%, and 125,000 jobs have disappeared. Although it is impossible to interview people at Love Ranch, which has already closed, I tried to interview people working at CHICKEN RANCH, a competitor.
It is about an hour’s drive from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a remote corner of the desert, eleven cars are parked. From the outside, they looked like a restaurant. When you press the bell, a loud buzzing sound is heard. About ten seconds later, the door opens, and you are asked to take your temperature, check if you are wearing a mask, and show a photo ID such as a car license or passport.
When the bell is rung by a customer, the prostitutes check his appearance with cameras inside the building, and make a judgment as to whether they can do business with this man or not, and only those women who feel that they want to do business with him stand in front of the visiting man.
They stand in a line in front of the customer, tell him their first name, and invite him to their room if he asks. Once they are alone, they discuss how much and what kind of service they will provide, report the amount to the inn’s madam, and head to the hotel. It is a rule that the inn gets 50% and the prostitute 50%.
The first person who agreed to interview me was a 48-year-old man dispatched from a marketing company.
The first was a 48-year-old man dispatched by a marketing company who told me, “It was a big blow because we couldn’t open for nearly 14 months until we reopened on May 1, 2021. At first, they wanted us to close the store for a month starting March 17, 2020. In the northern part of Nevada, some lodges were advised to shut down on March 15. The suspension period has been extended rapidly. …… We have to keep this place open so that we can reopen at any time, so we are 100 percent in a negative situation. We were constantly talking to the county staff, but we had no idea what was going on, and it was very stressful.
At any given time, there are ten to fifteen women waiting to serve you. We live in our own rooms that we are given here, and it is in those rooms that we interact with our customers. But since they could no longer do that, the girls went back to their homes and took on new challenges on online adult pages, etc. to make ends meet. We are licensed and legitimate in this business, so we don’t know anything about how they work outside of lunch.
We used to sign employment contracts with the girls for a minimum of two weeks, but since the reopening, the minimum has been ten days. Nowadays, we have them tested for coronary infection every ten days. Before I start working, I make sure that they take the test and bring a negative certificate or I won’t sign the contract.
Since the reopening on May 1, 2021, “We’ve been waiting for you! Since the reopening on May 1, 2021, customers, especially regular customers, have been coming back, and since the beginning of 2022, the numbers are approaching the same as before the shutdown.
He wouldn’t give me specific numbers, saying it was a “trade secret,” but he did say that they were getting a good response.
The ratio of customers is a little higher among tourists than among Las Vegas residents,” he said. We’ve been very busy. Asian customers, including Japanese, make up about 25 percent of the total, although that has dropped by about 10 percent since COVID.
I meet Mia, a twenty-five-year-old girl by the name of Mia, in her room.
I found out on YouTube that brothels are legal in Nevada. It was an easy drive from where I live in Arizona to Pahrump, so I signed up online. I’ve been working here now for three months.
Arizona, with its southern border with Mexico, has a large Mexican immigrant population, and so does she, with her dark hair and small stature. Before the interview began, she put on a wig.
I was born in Mexico myself,” she said. I myself was born in Mexico, and my parents were old-fashioned Mexican traditionalists who believed that women should do the housework, not work. So, my mother was a housewife. My father worked as a construction worker for daily wages.
When I was a child, there was a time when I wanted to be a photographer, but I was taught that women should get married early and concentrate on raising children. So I got married at the age of 22 and lived on my ex-husband’s salary. But I was not happy at all. ……”
Mia’s marriage fell apart after about three years.
After her divorce at the age of 25, she worked as a receptionist at a law firm and hotel near Finix. I worked five times a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and made about $27,000 a year. I didn’t have a future, did I? On top of that, the coronavirus had taken over and there were no more hotel guests at all. Many hotels were forced into bankruptcy. My colleagues and I were all laid off. I don’t have exact numbers, but from what I’ve experienced, I’d say more than 80% of the tourism industry in Finix, Arizona’s largest city, lost their jobs.
“The main attraction of my current job is that I can make money. The highest level is $1.2 million a year. I’m really happy in this job. And I’m enjoying it. There’s no comparison to the salary of a receptionist.
She said that she uses this bed to serve her clients and to sleep.
I work on a two-week contract, take a short break, and come back here. Once a week, on Tuesdays, I get off from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Once a week, I get a day off on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. I go shopping or eat at a restaurant for a change.
The amount of money I make is determined by how much I work, so some days I take customers almost 24 hours a day without a break, while other days I just want to get some sleep. There are days when the buzzer rings and I see a customer and say, ‘Okay,’ and I line up with my coworkers and get picked up, but there are rare times when the demands and the price don’t match up. But if you work hard, you will get fixed customers.”
During the interview with Mia, a customer who wanted to meet her arrived at CHICKEN RANCH and knocked on the door.
I’m coming! One moment. She concluded. I’d like to make five more years in this business.
(To be continued in the second part of the interview with the women working in the same brothel, “The Epic Lives of American Brothel Workers.)
Interview and text： Soichi Hayashi