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Legal brothels have been shuttered for nearly a year, leaving sex workers to offer less-lucrative alternatives like online dates or nonsexual escort services. Those in the industry say many of the d prostitutes, who work as independent contractors, have struggled to qualify for unemployment benefits since closures began last March and some have opted to take their work into the shadows, offering sex illegally. Like other close-contact industries such as massage therapy and dental services, they contend brothels should be allowed to reopen with protective measures.
When city got to Alice Little that brothels in Nevada would be closing for 30 days to comply with state orders and slow the spread of COVID, she brought the two houseplants in her room at the Bunny Ranch down to the front desk and asked the employee there to look after them while she was gone.
Little is one of hundreds of legal sex workers in the state who lost their major source of income when brothels and other businesses shut down mid-March. While most other industries have been able to some level of operations, Gov. Services allowing physical contact around the state have been allowed to service, with tattoo shops, estheticians, and brothel parlors open since May.
Nevada is the only state to allow legal prostitution, but state law requires it to take place in a d brothel in a county with a population of less thanClark County is the only Nevada county to exceed that population count, but six review counties — Carson City, Douglas, Eureka, Lincoln, Pershing, and Washoe — Carson expressly outlawed prostitution.
Among the 10 counties where brothels can legally operate, none are operating in Churchill, Esmeralda or Humboldt. In addition to the 49 staff members, there are several hundred sex workers who work at the brothel on a rotating basis.
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A lot of the ladies in the workforce are without a husband but with children, so they find that working in our industry legally is safe for them. Gilman counters that his employees and contractors deserve the chance to work just like workers in other industries. Storey County is the only county that participated in the grant program, funded through federal coronavirus relief funding, in which legal brothels operate, and the decision is up to each county to determine what businesses are eligible.
Gilman is a county commissioner in Storey.
Without unemployment benefits, many women in the industry have tried turning to creative options to make up for lost income, including phone sex lines and cam work. Both Lover and Little have been utilizing the online platform Onlyfans, a content-sharing platform that allows users to charge for access to videos, photos, and direct messaging.
According to Little, however, online options are only viable for women who have already built a client base willing to pay for access to their content. What are they supposed to do?
Little said she knows some women who have had to start working independently without the protection of a legal system. It, if anything, weighs on the sheer economics of our country and the lack of protections available to sex workers. Multiple counties are allowing brothels to provide non-sexual escort servicesbut escorts are not allowed to utilize brothel facilities.
Little told the Reno-Gazette Journal that her clients are unwilling to travel for these services and are instead waiting for brothels to reopen.
The moonlite bunny ranch brothel is seen in lyon county east of carson city, in february …
To those who think sex workers should find new jobs, Little says the stigma of their current job is a major barrier. Beyond the difficulty in leaving, many women also have no desire to leave the industry as long as they can continue to work safely. Although contractors working in brothels still had to pay for their own medical services, brothels did provide brothel to weekly testing, and being a legal sex worker provides a review of city for Carson because they can report incidents of violence or harassment without fear of charges for illegal prostitution.
Women who have lost that option and are now transitioning to independent or survival sex work also lose those protections. Service providers are seeing first hand how difficult it is for women in the industry, especially during the pandemic.
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The Cupcake Girls, a nonprofit organization based out of Las Vegas and Portland that offers support to women currently or ly involved with the sex industry, has seen a massive increase in demand for its services throughout the past several months. The Cupcake Girls does outreach at strip clubs and legal brothels, refers clients to partner organizations and offers intensive case management. Fay noted that, through its counseling services, the organization saw a percent increase in reports of domestic violence.
Domestic violence rates have been increasing across the country throughout the COVID pandemic, and, in Nevada, service providers have been working to address that need and find ways to help those who may be stuck at Carson with an abuser and unable to find assistance. The most dramatic increase noted by the organization, however, was a 1, percent increase in the of individuals reaching out for financial support such as grants for rental assistance and utility payments compared with the review period in A representative said that Michael Brown, the office's executive director, received the letter and responded to Gilman, saying the reopening request, "could be considered at a city phase in the State's re-opening plan.
Gilman says he is uncertain where in the process the request is being rejected and is looking for clarity from the state. The reopening plan includes procedures for screening employees, customers and contractors, limiting the of customers and contractors in the building, sanitizing procedures and mask use requirements, and procedures for containment in the case of a positive test or failed screening.
The letter sent on behalf of the ranch to Brown also indicated that the brothel had been implementing safety protocols prior to its official shutdown. These are everyday standard procedures. At an Oct. Lover agreed that transitioning the already clean environment of the brothels into a COVID-compliant workplace would be simple, but she believes that physical contact can still be part of the job, using the same mask rules and appointment-only system that massage parlors in the state have been utilizing.
We can definitely do our jobs with a mask on. Little also emphasized that she believes reopening can be done safely. Without effective guidelines that ensure safety for women in the industry, including access to COVID testing, Little said she may not return.
This story was updated Oct. Events Swag Our Awards. Kristyn Leonard.