Unless you work at a licensed Nevada brothel, Sheri’s Ranch says, you’re a dirty whore, a criminal, and possibly a murderess.
Yesterday, a press release came across our desks from one of our dear friends and colleagues, Brian Gross. The PR was based on, and extensively quotes, a statement penned by my friend Jeremy Lemur, who works as spokesperson for Sheri’s Ranch, a licensed brothel in Nevada.
Other sites, such as AVN, ran it.
TRPWL has run releases from Sheri’s before, mainly because their business puts money into the pockets of sex workers. And although we support the full decriminalization of sex work, we also feel that brothels could still work under such a system.
So, under normal circumstances this would be an easy call — we’d run the PR.
But not this time.
This press release was so incredibly vile, self-serving (even by PR standards) and stigmatizing to sex workers, that not only won’t we run it, I’m going to tell you why.
We’re used to seeing efforts to deride and harm sex workers, and ugly, flagrant whorephobia, from radical feminist and anti-sex nut jobs like Melissa Farley and Gail Dines, but this one came from a business in the sex industry that profits off the efforts of sex workers!
Here’s how the press release opened:
Sugar Daddy Dating Sites Promote Prostitution, Says Brothel
Sheri’s Ranch, a legal Nevada brothel, takes aim at popular sugar dating websites, argues that these websites promote illegal prostitution
Pahrump, Nevada – Las Vegas-area legal brothel and sex resort Sheri’s Ranch posted a statement on its official blog denouncing “sugar dating” websites that are gaining popularity with college-aged women. These sites – particularly SeekingArrangement.com –often facilitate sexual relationships between these young women and wealthy older men in exchange for financial compensation.
The full statement can be found here: blog.sherisranch.com/legal-prostitution/sugar-baby-prostitute/
“Illegal” prostitution = bad, legal prostitution (i.e., at a Nevada brothel such as Sheri’s) = good. This example of whorearchy sets the tone for the release.
Note the phrasing “facilitate sexual relationships” (the word “facilitate” does not appear in Lemur’s statement, he uses “arrange”). It doesn’t say “facilitate (or arrange) sex”‘; it indicates that the sites provide a platform for individuals who seek a relationship of some kind. Likely most, but not all, relationships involve traditional penetrative sexual intercourse.
The release then cites Lemur, who “believes” that, in the wake of the “FBI crackdown on the escort directory and online forum myredbook.com” more sugar baby dating websites are emerging “and motivating pre-existing prostitution websites to rebrand themselves as sugar dating sites to avoid getting busted.”
Lemur decries the “seemingly effective ‘work around’ to avoid being designated as a prostitution-related website [that has] motivated pre-existing online escort directories and punter forums like naughtyreviews.com to remodel and re-imagine their prostitution resource as “dating for sugar daddies and sugar babies.”
I guess this is one of those “beliefs” one trumpets when one is being paid by a company operating under a competing business model.
The next quote from Lemur (which only appears in Gross’ PR) is simply mind-blowing, “We’re concerned that sugar dating websites, platforms promoting prostitution and operating without interference from law enforcement, may one day negatively impact our legal prostitution business.”
This is what our friend Maggie McNeill calls “badge-licking”. What sex worker on the planet — and what individual citizen, for that matter — thinks that increased interference in their lives or business by law enforcement is a good thing?
While, I give them points for honesty on the “we’re concerned” this will hurt our business bit, the whole thing sounds as though Sheri’s is trying to smear its competition. And by “competition” we mean, other sex workers.
Boot-licking, Nevada brothel-style
Later in the release, Lemur and Gross again decry the absence of widespread benevolent government regulation in the sex industry: “there is a danger in not recognizing sugar dating websites for what they are, platforms that promote an illegitimate, unregulated sex industry.”
Without state and county regulation, there is an absence of rules and standards in the sex work industry, creating an environment that can too easily exploit young women, invite human trafficking, and allow for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Lemur’s original statement goes further, and includes this limp-wristed, boot-licking caveat:
The staff and courtesans of Sheri’s Ranch, Nevada’s premier licensed bordello, believe that prostitution should be legal throughout the United States. But until prostitution is regulated across America like it is in Nevada, we cannot support unlawful prostitution.
We’ll get to the STD issue in a bit, but here we see Sheri’s Ranch promoting the Nevada legal brothel system as the only “legitimate” form of prostitution, as well as the one and only safe model. (“The only truly safe, discreet, and trustworthy way to enjoy quality intimacy in exchange for money is in a legal Nevada brothel” — according to a Nevada brothel.) One subheading actually refers to Nevada brothels as “The Only Safe Choice in the United States”. And to see Sheri’s employ the current, widely debunked sex trafficking panic to further its own ends (as brothel owner Dennis Hof also does fairly regularly) is at once predictable and despicable.
Not only does this approach reinforce stigma against many sex workers, it ignores other successful models, such as the one employed in New Zealand. Research, and the New Zealand government’s own evaluation, has demonstrated improved health and safety for sex workers and communities.
Moreover, the press release represents a passive-aggressive shot at the decriminalization of sex work (in contrast to the ‘legalization’ brothel system). Decriminalization has been recommended the world over by organizations such as the World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work, and the Global Commission on HIV and the Law.
Having failed to produce convincing evidence for Lemur’s claims, Sheri’s drags out the scare tactics.
They cite the case of “alleged murderess Alix Tichelman, a Seeking Arrangement prostitute, as an example.”
Alix Tichelman, the most notorious prostitute to use the Seeking Arrangement website, boasted online that she had over 200 clients. Tichelman was arrested for the murder of one of her sugar daddies, which says a lot about the ‘respect’ sugar babies have for their benefactors.
Sheri’s Ranch would like readers to view Alix Tichelman as representative of all sex workers who might appear on sugar dating sites.
That’s right, folks, if you use a Sugar Daddy site, you could get murdered! And not just murdered — murdered by a sex worker! Because, you know, unless they work at a licensed brothel they might be a dangerous violent criminal!
News flash: there are lots of women working at Nevada brothels RIGHT NOW who have criminal records, and there are licensed prostitutes who have also tried out sugar dating sites.
Here’s another news flash: lots of Nevada Brothel prostitutes see clients outside the brothel, even though, according to the government and our always-benevolent law enforcement agencies, they’re not supposed to. They often do so on day passes from the brothel.
Why is this significant? Well, for one thing, to means Sheri’s is actually slamming the very group of women they’re promoting: When they work outside the brothel, they are good sex workers, but when they work outside the brothel, trying for some inexplicable reason to avoid the blessed assistance from law enforcement, they need to be shunned and demonized.
I guess Sheri’s Ranch thinks its okay to slam its very own workforce in order to make a buck.
It’s at least as likely that a client would be murdered (or robbed, or blackmailed) by a licensed prostitute working outside the brothel whom they met at the brothel — some of whom have pimps, I can assure you — as one would be by someone they meet on a sugar dating site. In that case, it would be the brothel that would be “facilitating” or “arranging” a relationship that led to a crime.
Why do so many licensed prostitutes work outside the brothel? For starters, many of them started as what Lemur would consider dangerous “illegal” prostitutes, and developed their client base. Or maybe it’s because they don’t want to give 50% of their money to the brothel, in addition to paying for room and board (and at Sheri’s, a business license as well)?
And here’s another thing the brothels don’t advertise: if the licensed prostitute is gone for less than 24 hours, she doesn’t have to get re-rested for STIs. She can go see as many clients as time will allow, arrive back at Sheri’s or many other brothel during the 23rd hour, and it’s all cool with the brothel.
Brothels like to brag about their safety record on STI transmission, but what they don’t tell you is plenty of women flunk their STI test when seeking to return to work after an absence of longer that 24 hours. How many brothel clients pick up an STI? There is no data on this because brothels do not do medical follow-up with their clients. No one knows how many clients may have picked up an STI at a Nevada brothel.
And, when a licensed prostitute flunks her STI test, are her recent clients notified? Of course not.
Lemur’s statement also ignores the reality that Sugar Daddy sites try to screen out working prostitutes. The terms of service on those sites are instructive.
And, as for the lack of ‘respect’ sugar babies have for their benefactors that he imputes from a single case, we have to ask, how much respect do Sheri’s Ranch prostitutes have for their clients? Can we get some data on that?
The Sheri’s Ranch PR ends with a quote from Lemur which claims that sugar baby dating sites “sugar coat” illegal prostitution, because they are “opportunistic, morally compromised entrepreneurs.”
Pot meet kettle.