Nevada Brothel Peeved Over Ad Policy

Gretchen Gallen
VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. – Just outside of Carson City, where prostitution and gambling are legal, sits one of the most famous brothels, and also one of the oldest. But business at the 50-year-old Bunny Ranch took a turn this week when brothel owner Dennis Hof found that small town life is rife with contention.

Hof's beef in particular is with a Storey County advertising policy that pitted his business against other local brothels by not allowing him to advertise in the area or sponsor local events.

Storey County, a 262-square mile area and one of the smallest counties in Nevada, is also home to two more brothels, the Wild Horse and Old Bridge.

Hof is hopping mad because brothel rivals had no problem getting sponsorship deals at the local Grand Prix motorcycle races last month.

Hof contends that the hypocrisy of the local ad policy is playing favorites over competing companies.

The Bunny Ranch is a longtime supporter of the Virginia City Annual Mountain Oyster Fry, but when Hof tried to spread the word about the Bunny Ranch farther up the county line, he was rebuffed by County Commissioners, who Hof calls the most "corrupt officials in the state."

"All they're doing is showing favoritism," Hof told XBiz. "What they came up with was this regulation, but they're using it on a selective basis."

Storey County advertising policy forbids brothels from advertising anywhere in the area, including print advertising, billboards, and television ad spots. However, brothels are invited to do promotions, which include sponsorships and other behind-the-scenes contributions.

Hof is also miffed that the other brothels were never cited for violating the law even after the Storey District Attorney confirmed that current law prohibits brothel advertisements.

Many brothels tend to advertise their services across county lines through billboards and print advertising, but in-county, they are asked to keep a low profile.

"It's pretty hypocritical," Hof said. "We're just trying to understand it. I've spent a lot of money trying to promote Virginia City and it's just irritating."

In the meantime, Hof has expressed interest in taking the issue up with local officials and voters of the community, who he feels will lean in favor of enforcing fairness in county policy.

The Moonlight Bunny Ranch is credited with helping the state of Nevada pioneer prostitution in 1972. The Ranch is also the subject of an HBO reality documentary called "Cathouse" that takes viewers into the daily lives of real working girls through hidden cameras in the bedrooms of the brothel.

The Bunny Ranch is also making plans to host Primetime news anchor Diane Sawyer during a future news segment on ranch, although the dates are still being hammered out between Hof and show producers.