LAS VEGAS - The owner of a brothel more than two hours' drive from Las Vegas said she hopes to hire Nevada's first legal male prostitutes soon, now that state health officials have approved a method to test men for infectious diseases.
The world is ready for women, or even other men, to legally buy sex, said Shady Lady Ranch owner Bobbi Davis. Plus, being the first to offer male service could boost business in tough economic times, she said.
"With so many other male revues going on in Vegas, we thought it was time to give this a try," Davis said in an interview.
Until now, men have been effectively barred from legally plying the world's oldest profession in Nevada by the specificity of a state health law requiring prostitutes to undergo frequent cervical testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The health board approved a regulation to allow urethral testing for men - a crucial rule change by the state agency with ultimate power over whether prostitutes can or can't work.
For more than 25 years, no licensed female prostitute in Nevada has contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, said George Flint, a Reno wedding chapel owner and longtime lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners Association.
"My concern is that we continue to maintain that kind of record," he said.
Davis, Flint, and Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo all acknowledged recently that Davis still needs county approval to become the first of the state's 24 legal brothels to offer a lineup of men.
"We're going to look at it. We have some concerns," said DeMeo, who serves as a voting member of both a county health commission and a board that oversees alcohol, gambling, and brothel licenses.
"The ramifications of this are going to be statewide," he said. "We're going to have to deal with it at our other six brothels in Nye County if they want to offer the same service. We want to make sure we protect customers and make sure the industry is regulated with clarity and understanding."
Prostitution has been legal in rural Nevada counties since 1971 under strict state health board oversight but is against the law in the Las Vegas and Reno areas.
Flint said he feared the idea of male prostitutes serving male clients could spur a legislative backlash. He said he works to make the brothel industry socially acceptable to both libertarians and conservatives.
"I think the legislature is really going to give me some heartburn over this," Flint said in a telephone interview after appearing before the state Health Board in Carson City to endorse the Shady Lady proposal. "But I think it's an inevitability, and the brothel association has reluctantly agreed to support this as a test."