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January 15, 2010

Nevada Clears The Way For More Sexist Stereotypes

Apparently a small brothel in Nye County, Nevada (about 150 miles outside Vegas) recently got permission to hire male sex workers. So of course, the first question that comes to my mind is "what took so long?" How could it be possible that it took until 2010 for men to legally join the world's so-called oldest profession?

Nevada is the only US state which currently allows prostitution, which is only legal in counties with a population under 400,000 (so that excludes all the major metropolitan areas like Las Vegas and Reno). Prostitution has been "tolerated" in Nevada since the 1800s, although the state didn't begin to formally regulate it until 1971. In addition to mandatory condom use, Nevada law also requires that registered brothel prostitutes be tested weekly for gonorrhea and Chlamydia and monthly for HIV and syphilis.

The problem was that the law was female-centric (specifically, the requirement of a "cervical specimen") and therefore did not technically allow for male prostitutes... until now. The Shady Lady brothel fought for the right to hire men on the grounds that the gender-specific language of the law was discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional. They fought to get waivers from the Nevada Board of Health and the nine-member county licensing board to allow male prostitutes to undergo weekly urethral testing, instead of the required cervical exams (you know, seeing as they don't have cervixes). In doing so, they will go down in history as the first brothel in Nevada to legally hire male prostitutes - achieving what Heidi Fleiss was unable to five years ago (she tried to open an all-male brothel in Nye County in 2005 but was met with a lot of opposition and ultimately gave up the idea).

Now it's a little annoying that it took so long for this sexist loophole to be closed but that's not really the biggest issue I have with this story. It's the community's response to the idea of male prostitutes in Nevada - including comments made by the Shady Lady's owners, Jim and Bobbie Davis, themselves - that have really irked me. It seems that Nevada has not only cleared the way for legal male prostitutes... but also for more sexist stereotypes!

First of all, their quest for justice has little to do with fighting discrimination and everything to do with making more money. "With the economy the way it is, why don't we try it on a small scale and see how it works out," Bobbi Davis told ABC News. Now we can't fault them for wanting to explore a new market in these tough economic times, but if they were really looking to expand their horizons they might consider not being so... limited in their scope.

For instance, they are only seeking men to service women or join heterosexual couples in threesomes. While they technically can't refuse gay men from asking for a "lineup" of men to choose from, the prostitutes always have final say over what they do and with whom and the Davises have made it clear that they're not looking to "turn [their] business into a 'gay property'." They even went so far as to say that they would probably stop having male sex workers if they attracted a lot of interest from gay johns. "We're not interested in running that business," said Jim Davis.

The Davises aren't the only ones concerned with gays entering the industry. George Flint, president of the Nevada Brothel Association (who spoke out against the waiver) has admitted that he fears that male prostitution will lead to homosexuality activity which will make state legislators uneasy and in turn threaten the legality of prostitution in general.

There are also a lot of assumptions being made about the differences between men and women when it comes to sex and sex work:

"The minute a guy says so-and-so, and I have an 8-inch penis, we tune them out. When they say that, they're thinking just sex, but we're talking about entertaining women. They've got to be able to laugh at a lady's joke." -- Bobbi Davis

"Some women need to pay for that affection that makes them feel human. There are some people who need that and there are some people who are willing to be the tool to make that happen." --Les Brandt, Los Angeles-based actor who was originally interested in becoming one of Fleiss' "studs" back in 2005

"...women don't have the same sex drive as men. Men are pigs. They'll do a helluva a lot more to get laid than a woman would." -- John Hessling, owner of the Blue Moon Resort, Las Vegas

"Women wouldn't feel an immediate connection with the men they'll be hiring. They want someone who's charming and attentive. It would require significantly more time." -- Hawk Kinkaid of Hook

So basically... women go to prostitutes for entertainment, attention, affection, a "connection" and to feel human. Whereas men go to prostitutes for... sex. Even Markus (not his real name), the first male prostitute hired by the Shady Lady has reinforced this tired old stereotype:

Q: So you'd rather be called a gigolo than a prostitute.

A: I think for a male, if you want to be successful in this type of venture, you're not a prostitute. You're a surrogate lover. You encompass everything that's required of you—not only emotionally, physically—but psychologically. Because women are wired differently. They're much more sensitive creatures. You actually have to enjoy what you do. You can't necessarily say, "Oh, it's just a job." You actually have to say it's a passion.

America's first legal male prostitute doesn't want to be called a prostitute... and he based that on the whole "men and women are different!" explanation. So let me get this straight, women are more sensitive and emotional, so they need their sex partners to be the same... and so therefore, as a man, the term "prostitute" is beneath him. But apparently it's okay to call female sex workers "prostitutes" because they can say "Oh, it's just a job". But... wait, I thought women weren't capable of that kind of sex. Okay, now I'm confused. Maybe because it's all a bunch of sexist double standards that contradict each other!

Seriously, everything that comes out of this 25-year-old former Marine and failed adult actor's mouth is so hilarious and offensive, that it was so hard narrowing down which excerpts from his interview to quote. (So I pretty much quoted almost all of it.)

[...] In the porn world, they say it's like a menu: BJ, double penetration—that's prostitution. That's not feeling affection or love. [...] I view myself as an artist, a performer. It's a craft, and it has to be learned. In porn, they have to have these degrading acts. I consider myself a classier person than going below myself to do that. This is much different. It's closer and more personal. Whichever woman may walk through the door, she's appreciated. A surrogate lover will love that woman for a whole hour, for however much we charge here and she'll leave feeling much more empowered, and much more confident in herself.

Ah okay, so now women go to prostitutes gigolos to feel appreciated, empowered and confident. Okay, we'll add that to the list of everything-except-sex that women go to sex workers for.

I think it's the same situation as with anything that happens when you break apart a social institution. There has to be some kind of change in terminology to describe persons like myself. And it's more of a civil rights thing now. Basically this is the first time in the economy of the United States that a male has actually stood up and said, "I want to do this for a living." And be protected under law to do it. It's just the same as when Rosa Parks decided to sit at the front instead of the back. She was proclaiming her rights as a disadvantaged, African-American older woman. And I'm doing the same. I'm actually standing up now, and hopefully I can be supported by the male community and be understood as a person. This actually isn't about selling my body. This is about changing social norms.

Oh okay, I get it now. He's changing social norms! He's standing up for the male community... the poor oppressed white male community. Now, I do think that it's about time that the outdated and sexist language of the laws was changed, but men aren't exactly a terribly oppressed group and letting them be sex workers isn't exactly a boon for civil rights. And Markus is no Rosa Parks.

I'm an equal opportunity employer. I don't discriminate based on race, color, creed, ethnicity, or skin tone. Notice I left gender out. That's for a reason. [...]

I think gay people are very put-together. I think they're very classy, very well-organized people. They have great personalities. I have nothing against them, but that's not me. And as the first male that's entering this field legally in the entire United States, I'd like to assert my rights and say that I can sit here and have a decent conversation, but I draw the line at that. In the adult industry they said, "Well you're not going to make enough money. The equation's already set—you have to go gay for pay if you want to make the big bucks." So, that's prostitution, in my opinion. That's disrespect to the artist. My sphincter isn't for sale. But what is for sale is companionship—total appreciation for whoever walks through that door. I'm not saying I'm special. I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone, but I'm definitely unique. And I think it's a good thing. [...]

There's going to be times where there's an ugly woman—ugly physically—but there's going to be something inside of her that has to be released, and if I can release it through sexual activity or just conversation and companionship, that's what I have to do.

He also explained that he's specifically suited to be a gigalo because of his parents' divorce (because, you know, that's how all prostitutes are made right?) Apparently when your parents divorce, you suffer sensory deprivation and that makes you want to have sex with your mother... which of course, leads to becoming a prostitute gigolo.

Psychologists say a child should be hugged at least, you know, two or three times a day for him to be a functional human being. Then, once I reached adulthood, I didn't have any sexual relationships. So naturally, when someone is in the psychological state that I'm in, I don't think of it as a disadvantage. I think it's more of a prerequisite for what I'm fixin' to do. You're striving to make up for lost time, basically. You're trying to remake the things that you were missing out on as a young adult. Psychologically, Freud always said that every man inherently has an innate desire to copulate or have some sort of relation with his mother—regardless of whether he wants to admit it or not. I think this engenders what it means to be a gigolo. A gigolo is looking for a surrogate mother. And basically he's filling the need for someone, but at the same time, he's getting the respect and the compassion that he missed from an earlier developmental deficit.

He wasn't hugged enough as a child, so he never had sex as an adult, so he is perfectly suited to have sex for a living. (You'd think that they would want men who had some experience having sex, no?)

There's five things I think that separate a gigolo from the average man: number one being the psychological profile—how he was raised, his upbringing, his thought, his morality, what he views as right and wrong. He must have the heart of a saint, the mind of a philosopher, and the skills of the devil—that's the second qualification. The third one is I never refer to any woman as a bitch, ho, twat, cunt, or any of those terms. It offends me. Women don't pay for sex, they pay for experience. And luckily for me, I don't have that much experience with sex, but I have the mentality and the emotion and gumption to make them feel the way they want to feel. And if I complete that through sex, too—which I'm a very good performer in that respect, too—my mission's accomplished. The fourth thing that separates a gigolo is a gigolo knows how to cook, clean, and do the things necessary to upkeep himself. He's totally independent. He can cook a 3-course meal, and at the same time, serve wine.

[...] I knew if this was going to be a viable business, you have to have a level of discipline. I think that a gigolo should have no relations outside of the brothel because it's his playground. Through engaging with a female, he's actually rewarding himself in a way he's never been rewarded before. It's a very beautiful, almost holy experience. I'm changing the way people think. I'm not college-educated, but I'm well-read. That's the fifth thing that a gigolo must have. He must be literate, he must have a sense of honor and dignity to himself. He should just be an all-around good guy.

What the fuck? I'm sorry... but I'm really lost here. What does his upbringing, his ability to cook and clean and "serve wine" have to do with being a prostitute gigolo? (I'd really love to hear what he thinks separates a female sex worker from the average woman.) Shouldn't the #1 priority be his ability to HAVE SEX? Why is everyone obsessed with the idea that women don't pay for sex? Some women do want sex! Not the "experience" or affection or love... but sex! Hot, dirty, emotionless sex! Maybe some women do want the type of experience he spoke about, but it's just a really annoying generalization to suggest that we all want that.

And while I definitely think it's nice that he doesn't throw around words like "bitch" or "cunt" in a derogatory way, it's annoying that he says he won't use them (and that any good gigolo shouldn't) because he's offended by it. Sometimes women want to be talked dirty to. Of course that concept is probably impossible for him to wrap his head around, seeing as he thinks that his ability to cook a 3-course-meal and being well read has anything to do with qualifying him to work at a brothel.

[...] I tried applying for anything from waiter to car washer to any of these menial odd jobs, and felt like I was really wasting talent and time on it. I felt that my youth was being wasted.

Q: Did you get any of those jobs?

A: Nope. It's just the economy. The economy sucks.


Jezebel said...

I can't believe this guy seriously compared himself to Rosa Parks. Wow.

Melissa said...

Wow. That whole thing is just all kinds of ew.

Anonymous said...

But but... he's changing social norms! This is about civil rights! He's standing up for the male community. It's totally the same thing, right?

Hybrid Hopes said...

Plus, I hate the word "classy" and he used it way too many times.

Anonymous said...

You know a guy's a winner when he uses "female" as a noun, referring to a human woman. Blegh.

Anonymous said...

EW, I think I would have prefered for him to actually accept that he IS a prostitute. I don't like the idea of having sex with a person that would be so worried about his performance an "my" experience with him. I think the whole idea of a paying for a prostitute is to LEAVE all tha psychological bullshit OUT of the FUN!