There are 500 girls licensed to work as prostitutes at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nev., 30 to 40 are on duty at any given time. They come from all walks of life, rich and poor, uneducated and with degrees and honors. But they all have one thing in common. They appear to be empowered businesswomen who do not want to work for what society normally pays.
"In the summertime, you get a lot of college students working their way through college," said owner Dennis Hof.
"They can come in here and make a lot of money, so during the college year, they don't have to have these menial jobs," Hof said. "They can study, like they should. We have school teachers that are off in the summertime that want to come in and work. We have airline stewardesses that can fly in and out free that'll come in and work a few days here and there. We've had many, many girls work their way through law school. We've had five girls that I know of that have gotten medical degrees, medical doctor degrees."
Hof recently allowed MSNBC's Rita Cosby to get 'Live and Direct' with some of his big-earning ladies, like Shelly Dushell. A 31-year-old twice-divorced mother of two holds a political science degree and a real estate license, Dushell has been working part-time at the Bunny Ranch for almost two years.
After earning $22,000 in the first two weeks, she says she was won over.
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below.
RITA COSBY: Shelly, how did you get involved as a working girl?
SHELLY DUSHELL: I put two and two together. Men liked me, and I needed to make a lot of money. And you know, I could date men and waste my time with dinners and flowers and everything else, or I could actually charge them to spend time with me.
COSBY: And how much do you make a night?
DUSHELL: I average usually $1,000 or $2,000 a day, but on a good day $5,000.
COSBY: $5,000 on a good day?
DUSHELL: $5,000 on a good day.
COSBY: You've been here since 2004.
COSBY: How much have you made?
DUSHELL: I've made probably about $200,000 working just off and on, coming when I want to. I used to fly in and stay about two weeks and go home. And Now I moved out here, and I work just a few days a week.
COSBY: You drove away in a nice Mercedes. You just bought some property?
DUSHELL: Yes. I bought...
COSBY: You're doing pretty well financially.
DUSHELL: Yes. I own a house in Oklahoma. I also bought a house here nearby, a $600,000 house. And I also have a 2004 Mercedes.
COSBY: All with money from this?
DUSHELL: All with money that I made here.
COSBY: Is it about sex? Is it about acting?
DUSHELL: I'm an actress 100 percent. You have to be to work here. But most of the men don't come here for sex, even though that's the whole premise.
COSBY: They don't come for sex?
DUSHELL: They don't come for sex.
COSBY: What do they come for?
DUSHELL: Attention, someone to look at them dead square in the eye, to touch them, to tell them they're doing something right, to tell them that they're special, to tell them that they are a good person.
COSBY: You told me one guy paid you 9,000 bucks. What did you do?
DUSHELL: We had sex for 10 minutes. The rest of the time was spent talking. And then he went to sleep.
COSBY: And he paid you $9,000 for that?
DUSHELL: $9,000. And I've had that repeatedly. He was lonely. He'd never been married, 53 years old, owned his own company, had tons of money and lonely.
I don't want to get any young girls into this business. I would never tell a young girl that she needs to do this. But I was having sex at a young age, and a lot of girls these days are, and they're not having safe sex. And they're getting pregnant, they're getting diseases. And they're getting used.
COSBY: Are you worried about getting a sexually transmitted disease?
I see you've got condoms all over here.
DUSHELL: Yes. I have three different sizes there. I have a regular, a large, and a snugger fit, which is a nice way of saying small.
COSBY: Now, do you get checked?
DUSHELL: I get checked once a week. We do a swab test once a week for certain diseases, like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Then once a month, we do a blood test for HIV and syphilis.
COSBY: So you're worried about getting a disease?
DUSHELL: I worried more about getting a disease when I was dating than here because oral sex is performed with a condom. Sex is performed with a condom. I don't ever have to kiss a man or let him kiss me anywhere I don't want him to kiss me.
COSBY: Give me sort of a sense of the mood, though, the things you put in here for the mood.
DUSHELL: The little girl in me, possibly, the little ballerina. I did take ballet. And the light is very relaxing. I can lay on my bed and look at that, and I get complimented on that constantly. A little bit of romance in the roses.
COSBY: Little bit of roses here.
DUSHELL: Right, with a little bit of the sexuality in the black kind of fishnet scarf.
COSBY: What are you watching on TV?
DUSHELL: I have a porno in there. I rarely watch TV here. You can see the TV is dusty. But I always turn the porno on silent, so it's on in the background and we don't have to listen to it.
COSBY: And you got a little fireplace here for the mood.
Another star at the Bunny Ranch stable is Kandi. At 32, the small-town girl from a Methodist family in southern Ohio was an aviation mechanic in the Navy. She married a Marine, got divorced. And when her husband fell way behind on child support payments for her 11-year-old daughter, she made the big choice for the big money.
She also recently sat down with MSNBC's Cosby to talk about life on the ranch.
COSBY: How did you go from being a churchgoer with a church-going family to this?
KANDI: you know, my mom and dad had raised me that not to judge, you know? You treat people the way you'd like to be treated, to not be judgmental, get to know people before you say or do anything because you got to walk in their shoes before -- you know? And you know, it was my mom and dad that had told me, you know, there was Mary Magdalene in the Bible and, you know, Jesus saved her. I mean, she was getting rocks and things thrown at her. ...
COSBY: Did you ever say, I'm going to get struck dead?
KANDI: No, never, because even after every party, I thank God for everything that I have. ... Because to me, when I pray, I don't pray for money, but I do pray that an angel walks in here, you know? To me, it's a service. You know, it's not like we're going out man-hunting ... the men come to us, married or not, and it's freedom of choice.
COSBY: How many men that come in here are married?
KANDI: The majority.
COSBY: The majority?
KANDI: Yes. I think it's that they're looking for something that they cannot get at home.
COSBY: What's the craziest experience you've had in here?
KANDI: A man and woman, a couple, a married couple, coming in, and the man dressed as a Catholic priest and his wife dressed as the little school girl, Catholic school girl.
COSBY: Role playing.
KANDI: Yes. Role playing, yes.
COSBY: What's the most you've made in one night?
KANDI: On my part, $12,000.
COSBY: Twelve thousand bucks?
KANDI: Mine. Right. Take home.
COSBY: How many hours were you working? How many people were you seeing?
KANDI: Probably over 14 hours and probably close to eight people.
COSBY: What did you say to your parents, Your daughter is a working girl?
KANDI: Yes. I had sat them down at their kitchen table, and I felt like we're all adults here, you know? And I said, Either one of two things. You can either disown Lindsey and I because she's my daughter, she goes with me wherever I go -- not here, you know, I'd never bring her here ... and then I said, Or you can be a part of our lives and accept me because this is what I do.
And then I just told them I work at a brothel. I said it is legal prostitution. And my mom cried a little bit. My dad just kind of looked. And he just said ... that if anything would ever happen to ... anything needed for my daughter, they have access to get money. And you know, my dad was just, like, Well, we kind of had a feeling because you don't make that kind of money in dancing ...
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