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When Harvard medical student Alexa Albert conducted a public-health study as the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada, the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, neither she nor the brothel could have predicted the end result. Having worked with homeless prostitutes in Times Square, Albert was intimate with human devastation cause by the sex trade, and curious to When Harvard medical student Alexa Albert conducted a public-health study as the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada, the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, neither she nor the brothel could have predicted the end result. Having worked with homeless prostitutes in Times Square, Albert was intimate with human devastation cause by the sex trade, and curious to see if Nevada’s brothels offered a less harmful model for a business that will always be with us. The Mustang Ranch has never before given an outsider such access, but fear of AIDS was hurting the business, and the Ranch was eager to get publicity for its rigorous standards of sexual hygiene. Albert was drawn into the lives of the women of the Mustang Ranch, and what began as a public-health project evolved into something more intimate and ambitious, a six-year study of the brothel ecosystem, its lessons and significance. The women of the Mustang Ranch poured their stories out to Albert: how they came to be there, their surprisingly deep sense of craft and vocation, how they reconciled their profession with life on the outside. Dr. Albert went as far into this world as it is possible to go — some will say too far — including sitting in on sessions with customers, and the result is a book that puts an unforgettable face on America’s maligned and caricatured subculture. From the Hardcover edition.


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When Harvard medical student Alexa Albert conducted a public-health study as the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada, the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, neither she nor the brothel could have predicted the end result. Having worked with homeless prostitutes in Times Square, Albert was intimate with human devastation cause by the sex trade, and curious to When Harvard medical student Alexa Albert conducted a public-health study as the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada, the only state in the union where prostitution is legal, neither she nor the brothel could have predicted the end result. Having worked with homeless prostitutes in Times Square, Albert was intimate with human devastation cause by the sex trade, and curious to see if Nevada’s brothels offered a less harmful model for a business that will always be with us. The Mustang Ranch has never before given an outsider such access, but fear of AIDS was hurting the business, and the Ranch was eager to get publicity for its rigorous standards of sexual hygiene. Albert was drawn into the lives of the women of the Mustang Ranch, and what began as a public-health project evolved into something more intimate and ambitious, a six-year study of the brothel ecosystem, its lessons and significance. The women of the Mustang Ranch poured their stories out to Albert: how they came to be there, their surprisingly deep sense of craft and vocation, how they reconciled their profession with life on the outside. Dr. Albert went as far into this world as it is possible to go — some will say too far — including sitting in on sessions with customers, and the result is a book that puts an unforgettable face on America’s maligned and caricatured subculture. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Every time I take the California Zephyr and go through Reno, the On Board Chief of Services, or one of his minions, never fails to point out the famous Mustang Ranch, located in a secluded valley twenty-some miles out of Sparks, Nevada. If you've ever been curious about what goes on, and why, in Nevada's brothels and the Mustang Ranch, in particular, you will find this a fascinating book. I did. Ms. Albert, a public health specialist, had been interested for years in HIV and STD transmission and Every time I take the California Zephyr and go through Reno, the On Board Chief of Services, or one of his minions, never fails to point out the famous Mustang Ranch, located in a secluded valley twenty-some miles out of Sparks, Nevada. If you've ever been curious about what goes on, and why, in Nevada's brothels and the Mustang Ranch, in particular, you will find this a fascinating book. I did. Ms. Albert, a public health specialist, had been interested for years in HIV and STD transmission and condom usage. She was curious to measure the impact of legalized prostitution on these parameters. Her first overtures to George Flint, ordained minister, wedding chapel owner, and executive director for the Nevada Brothel Association, were rebuffed, but she didn' give up. Flint realized she was a serious researcher and paved the way for her to spend several weeks living (not working) at the famous Mustang Ranch in Storey County, near Reno — not in Reno, and that distinction is important and has historical roots. Brothels can only be licensed legally in counties, and Reno and Las Vegas have chosen not to do so. That is itself an interesting story, because one of the staunch opponents of legalized prostitution in Las Vegas has been Steve Wynn, wealthy casino owner, who publicly argues that it tarnishes the image of Las Vegas, gambling and former mob mecca of the world. Privately, many speculate that the real reason is that unlicensed, freelance prostitution, which thrives in Las Vegas, takes place in the hotels that own the casinos and therefore keeps the gamblers in the casinos where they belong. The brothels are all located in remote areas, away from the cities and that takes money away from the casinos. Brothels are prohibited from advertising, yet the freelancers have 140 pages in the Las Vegas Yellow Pages devoted to their activities which are completely unregulated. A brothel can be a very substantial source of revenue for the county (4% of Storey County's total revenue in the case of the Mustang). Annual license fees in the hundreds of thousands are not rare, and the associated employment brings in needed additional tax revenue. Following the federal seizure of the Mustang Ranch for the failure of the owner to pay appropriate income taxes (he was a fugitive in Brazil and hiding the revenue under a false corporation), the brothel has been shut down until the courts can decide on the legality of the appeal of the conviction. The Feds had thought about running the brothel to bring in some revenue to pay the expenses of the prosecution, but that was deemed politically unwise. The author came away from the experience a confirmed advocate of legalized prostitution. Customers and prostitutes are safe and the regulation is intense. Condom usage is mandatory, as are regular health checkups, and in fact no licensed prostitute has ever been diagnosed with HIV, although several applicants, who were refused licenses, had been. It's ironic, but the johns have virtually no control over their experience at the brothel except for the selection of the girl, and even that is often out of their control. If the word gets around that a particular john is impolite, routinely abusive, or just generally obnoxious, the word gets around, and the girls will walk him, i.e., quote impossibly high prices (as independent contractors they set their own prices, returning 50% to the brothel), and soon the john leaves, frustrated to say the least. In any case, the girls remain in complete control of the situation and each customer gets a thorough wash and genital examination to look for any sign of an STD. Many of the women see themselves as providing a valuable public service, and from her interviews with many of the clients, Ms. Albert would agree. For many of the men, it's their only form of social contact, and many even become quite addicted to it, even to the point where they subsidize the girls beyond what happens in the building, giving them extra clothes, helping with moving, the rent, etc. But to the majority of the women, a trick is still a trick, and they can be quite good at manipulating these relationships. Most of them are in it for the money, which can be very good. Some were persuaded by husbands, others by mothers!!, most by financial necessity, but many have worked for many years. Several insisted they can completely separate their professional lives from their personal, insisting they maintain a normal life at home with their husbands and families. But despite its legalization, the life lacks legitimacy, and those who work in the brothels as barkeeps, maids, vendors, and prostitutes develop a sense of community and family that provides structure and support that they often lack elsewhere. The brothel "had provided an income as well as friendship, compassion, trust and hope for countless women and men. In many ways, Mustang Ranch picked up where society had dropped the ball. It had provided a safe, nonjudgmental, economically sound work environment and a fair way for a community of several dozen women and their familles to meet their most basic needs. Whatever you think of prostitution and its legalization, this is an essential and very interesting read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Alexa Albert's study in Nevada's well-known (and now defunct) Mustang Ranch brothel was a fascinating read. Albert lobbied the Nevada Brothel Association, for three years in order to conduct a public health study, and was finally given admittance. Nevada is the only state in the U.S. that has legal brothels. Albert wanted to study condom use and measures to prevent the spread of STDs. No public health official, or doctor had ever conducted a study in a brothel, seemingly the most obvious place to Alexa Albert's study in Nevada's well-known (and now defunct) Mustang Ranch brothel was a fascinating read. Albert lobbied the Nevada Brothel Association, for three years in order to conduct a public health study, and was finally given admittance. Nevada is the only state in the U.S. that has legal brothels. Albert wanted to study condom use and measures to prevent the spread of STDs. No public health official, or doctor had ever conducted a study in a brothel, seemingly the most obvious place to learn about it. Albert begins the book talking about her study, but the rest of the book is more of a journalistic style, reporting on the lives and trials of the Mustang Ranch prostitutes. She became friends with some of the women, and continues to correspond with them, even after Mustang Ranch was shut down by the IRS in the late 1990s.

  3. 5 out of 5

    BookMarc

    Culture is a strange thing. Depending on where you live in the world prostitution is either accepted or illegal and here in the United States it's even more strange as it's accepted nowhere other than in Nevada. Even then it's only legal in licensed brothels such as The Mustang Ranch. While it's legal and provides a high percentage of income for local government it's still not the type of business that is embraced or advertised publicly and is associated with a "look the other way" mentality. Due Culture is a strange thing. Depending on where you live in the world prostitution is either accepted or illegal and here in the United States it's even more strange as it's accepted nowhere other than in Nevada. Even then it's only legal in licensed brothels such as The Mustang Ranch. While it's legal and provides a high percentage of income for local government it's still not the type of business that is embraced or advertised publicly and is associated with a "look the other way" mentality. Due to the attitude towards brothels, and prostitution in general, Alexa Albert took it upon herself to investigate the day to day practices of the brothels, its workers and its customers. Integrating herself into the Mustang Ranch by living there she became close with many of the workers and documented her findings and attitudes in 'Brothel: Mustang Ranch and its Women'. 'Brothel' is a very informative book that humanizes the sex industry in relation to the Mustang Ranch. It's also a very complicated industry which the author does her best to understand even going to the lengths of watching the actual act of prostitution taking place. Albert's greatest strength is also her greatest weakness in that she becomes emotionally close to some of the workers. As such she is allowed greater access into how they feel, what they think, how they cope etc but at the same time that causes her to lose her objectivity as she has an emotional connection to her subjects. Calling the workers her subjects is almost dehumanizing them on my part as they become friends of hers and Albert becomes someone who they can confide in. One aspect that I took away from reading this book is that there is no set personality when it comes to who ends up in prostitution. Women from all walks of life turn to one of the world's oldest industry. However, none of them are ever there due to it being a career choice brought about by their love of the industry. Many were prostituting due to financial hardship while others were drawn towards the high earning potential even if they weren't experiencing hardship of there own. In many ways I ended up admiring the choice that these women had made, particularly those who were selling their bodies, so their children could have a better life. Sadly though as working at the Mustang Ranch meant being confined to the brothel for three weeks at a time, and sometimes more, their children missed out on time spent with their mothers. I was surprised to learn that a fair percentage of the women enjoyed the sex they provided and often experienced orgasms. Unfortunately, even within such a stigmatized industry, those women were further stigmatized by some of their fellow workers who considered enjoying the prostitution a disgusting practice. As much as the author analyzes and interprets the situations, conditions and experiences of the working girls the true beauty of this book lays in the human aspect. Regardless of whether they are working in a stigmatized industry, ultimately, the females who prostitute themselves are just like you and I and that shines through in the narrative. The one problem I had with this book, and it's not something that can be avoided, is that it's dated. It was published back in 2001 when Mustang Ranch had been shut down by government agencies and so it ends with the future of the ranch still in limbo (I do believe it was rebuilt at another site and is now running under new ownership). Also, some of the laws that applied back then that are issues in the book have now changed such as brothels, and the sex workers themselves, not being able to advertise themselves. With the onset of the internet clients can book a time, their woman of choice and agree a price long before they even visit a brothel. If you have an interest in human sexuality then I would certainly recommend this book as it covers a lot of different aspects such sexual health, prostitution, attitudes towards brothels and the sex itself. What it isn't is a book full of licentiousness, seediness and cheap thrills as the subject matter is handled in a mature and professional way.

  4. 5 out of 5

    okyrhoe

    A well-written, balanced, and informative inside look into the "sex-services" industry in Nevada, USA. What I learned from this book: Although legalized brothels offer a work environment for women in the sex trade that is vastly preferable to any other presently-existing option, there is still vast room for improvement. The women don't appear to be suffering in any major way, and yet it's obvious that there exists a substantial unregulated gray area within the owner-management-employee relationshi A well-written, balanced, and informative inside look into the "sex-services" industry in Nevada, USA. What I learned from this book: Although legalized brothels offer a work environment for women in the sex trade that is vastly preferable to any other presently-existing option, there is still vast room for improvement. The women don't appear to be suffering in any major way, and yet it's obvious that there exists a substantial unregulated gray area within the owner-management-employee relationship permitting management & owners to take (monetary) advantage of the women, if they so wish. The author repeatedly illustrates how "management didn't acutally respect women's status as independent contractors," thereby allowing for various little and not-so-little ways in which management and third parties (eg. taxi cab drivers) whittle away at the women's profit margins. I wonder if today the women in the industry have come together into some form of trade association so that they too can lobby & influence county & state officials to legislate for the prostitutes, not only for the brothel owners's behalf. Is it too much to ask for a prostitute-owned & operated establishment, where pro-prostitute rules and regulations could be applied, and where the prostitutes have full autonomy, not the pseudo independent contractor status that exists (or existed at the time of the writing of this book)? Incidentally, I watched the HBO series on the Nevada brothel industry a couple of years ago before reading this book. I recall being uncomfortable about the overly-cheerful way things were presented in the series (featuring the Moonlite Bunny Ranch run by Dennis Hof, who appears at the end of A. Albert's book), and now I know my gut feelings were right. There's a lot of information the HBO series left out - intentionally or not - and compared to A. Albert's better researched book, it now is obvious the HBO show approximates an infomercial more than anything else.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Maybe i just have a warm fuzzy feeling from this book because i read it while at Governor's School. (The library at Mercyhurst College is gorgeous.) I was still in high school so i admit i was looking for a book to fuel a pervy fantasy. That's not what i got from the book, but i kept reading anyway. A female journalist's visits to a legal brother in Nevada. She visits many times. It's a really human portrayal of sex workers as the writer develops a more personal connection with the ladies inside Maybe i just have a warm fuzzy feeling from this book because i read it while at Governor's School. (The library at Mercyhurst College is gorgeous.) I was still in high school so i admit i was looking for a book to fuel a pervy fantasy. That's not what i got from the book, but i kept reading anyway. A female journalist's visits to a legal brother in Nevada. She visits many times. It's a really human portrayal of sex workers as the writer develops a more personal connection with the ladies inside (though she calls them 'girls'). This book didn't change my life, but it did spark a curiosity. It would be best read with a searching critical eye: why these women are marked as a curiosity & what the prejudices the writer has to put aside before having a fulfilling experience. SPOILER NEXT: I have to say, i was a little disappointed that the author didn't start working at the ranch near the end of the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Alexa Albert was a PhD student studying public health who got special permission from a brothel in Nevada to stay on the premises and observe the brothel culture. She got to interview the working women and find out how they got to where they are, the type of customers they attract, the rules and regulations of the business and their personal lives. Staying in the brothel for an extended period of time, the women were skeptical of Alberts at first, but then grew to develop a trusting relationship Alexa Albert was a PhD student studying public health who got special permission from a brothel in Nevada to stay on the premises and observe the brothel culture. She got to interview the working women and find out how they got to where they are, the type of customers they attract, the rules and regulations of the business and their personal lives. Staying in the brothel for an extended period of time, the women were skeptical of Alberts at first, but then grew to develop a trusting relationship with the author. Of all the memoirs and biographies read, this was one of my favorites and one of the ones I have passed on to many friends and family members. Albert is one of the only people to capture an accurate portrayal of the legal prostitution scene and the inner workings of a brothel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    I admit that I am confused about why any woman would choose to become a prostitute and work in a brothel. Author Alexa Albert did too. She lived at and visited the famed Mustang Ranch in Nevada as part of her dissertation and then wrote a book about her experience. She's not an easy writer to read. There is no cohesiveness, no flow, no guidance when she narrates this book. I gave up reading this partly because of the writing, and partly because I'm not learning anything new about either legal or I admit that I am confused about why any woman would choose to become a prostitute and work in a brothel. Author Alexa Albert did too. She lived at and visited the famed Mustang Ranch in Nevada as part of her dissertation and then wrote a book about her experience. She's not an easy writer to read. There is no cohesiveness, no flow, no guidance when she narrates this book. I gave up reading this partly because of the writing, and partly because I'm not learning anything new about either legal or illegal prostitution that a season of Law & Order: SVU couldn't teach me. But I did add Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to my Netflix queue.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Manda

    Predictable. Her puritanical and pre-feminist preconceptions are shattered when, after a short stay at "The Ranch" she finds hookers with a heart of gold and strangely enough, that people tend to form social groups based on altered mores when they are thrown together living and working at the ranch. What?!?!? individuals that pay for sex or get paid to perform sex acts are people too?!?! huh. It was interesting to learn about the inner workings of legalized prostitution and the impact on the loc Predictable. Her puritanical and pre-feminist preconceptions are shattered when, after a short stay at "The Ranch" she finds hookers with a heart of gold and strangely enough, that people tend to form social groups based on altered mores when they are thrown together living and working at the ranch. What?!?!? individuals that pay for sex or get paid to perform sex acts are people too?!?! huh. It was interesting to learn about the inner workings of legalized prostitution and the impact on the local/state political economy but the social commentary was a bit much to stomach.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    BOOOORRRRING! I couldn't get through the fourth chapter. I was interested in what the inner workings of a brothel might be, but honestly- all this lady talks about is the appearance of some of the women and some boring conversations they have while painting their nails. In short- it is just like hanging out at home, waiting for someone to show up to pay you for sex.... hmmmm that gives me an idea... Can I start charging my husband??? LMAO

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Truly, this is such a fascinating topic. In Brothel, Alexa Albert recounts her time spent in one of Nevada’s most famous brothels as she grapples with the idea of women selling sex. Some have criticized Albert for going too far (at one point, she sits in on a session with a prostitute and her customer), but to me it seemed necessary in terms of her personal progress. To really come to terms with the nature of sex work, she had to put aside stereotypes and previous socialization to understand just Truly, this is such a fascinating topic. In Brothel, Alexa Albert recounts her time spent in one of Nevada’s most famous brothels as she grapples with the idea of women selling sex. Some have criticized Albert for going too far (at one point, she sits in on a session with a prostitute and her customer), but to me it seemed necessary in terms of her personal progress. To really come to terms with the nature of sex work, she had to put aside stereotypes and previous socialization to understand just what happened from start to finish. It’s much easier to make premature judgements when we’re ignorant; an honest assessment only comes with knowledge. It’s no surprise that Albert’s writing unearthed plenty of contradictions, complex dynamics, and unique variables seemingly inherent in the world of prostitution. Where everyone shows up for different reasons, and with unique backgrounds, there are bound to be a wide variety of experiences and perspectives. Indeed, through her experiences, Albert was able to highlight and validate all the typical arguments both for and against legalized prostitution. Everything from women as victims to women empowered was described in the tales of Mustang Ranch’s working girls. Long story short, there is no fast and easy answer in terms of prostitution; no specific factor that contributes to women getting or staying in this line of work. But one thing is undoubtedly true— this is an age-old profession and one that isn’t going away anytime soon whether it’s legal or criminalized. It seems a reasonable conclusion, then, that if we can’t stop it, we might as well understand it, regulate it, and make it as safe and healthy as possible for all those involved.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This book was interesting to read because it gives a realistic description of what it's like to work at the Mustang Ranch, the economics of legalized prostitution, and it answers the question why there is no HIV transmission at the ranch. I liked the author's style of writing which was very descriptive and non-judgmental. This is not a book of erotica, neither does it contain lurid sex descriptions. She describes 2 "parties" so this book is definitely adult in nature, but it's not porn. In the e This book was interesting to read because it gives a realistic description of what it's like to work at the Mustang Ranch, the economics of legalized prostitution, and it answers the question why there is no HIV transmission at the ranch. I liked the author's style of writing which was very descriptive and non-judgmental. This is not a book of erotica, neither does it contain lurid sex descriptions. She describes 2 "parties" so this book is definitely adult in nature, but it's not porn. In the end, the book focuses on an on-line community of johns and how they relate to the prostitutes, and how their attitudes change when some prostitutes join this chat board. That's where I thought it got really boring, and I got really grossed out by these looser guys who were so into prostitutes. I also started to think that these guys were really degrading the women, whereas in the first part of the book where we read about the women's lives, it seems as though working there was not so bad, i.e. not dangerous or degrading, if you have a relatively strong character.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sally Kuchar

    I read this book because I wanted a glimpse into the inner workings of a notorious and legal brothel like Mustang Ranch. I was also very curious about the culture around legal sex work. Unfortunately the author’s pre-feminist point of view got in the way of a lot of her reporting. The first chapter is her describing how morally corrupt she and everyone she knows thinks the sex trade is (specifically the women who do it—she doesn’t have as much animosity towards the men who pay for sex), and then I read this book because I wanted a glimpse into the inner workings of a notorious and legal brothel like Mustang Ranch. I was also very curious about the culture around legal sex work. Unfortunately the author’s pre-feminist point of view got in the way of a lot of her reporting. The first chapter is her describing how morally corrupt she and everyone she knows thinks the sex trade is (specifically the women who do it—she doesn’t have as much animosity towards the men who pay for sex), and then is shocked—shocked!—when she finds that the sex workers she interviews and sheepishly befriends are actual human beings with complex reasons for choosing this line of work, which was almost always to get out of horrible debt or provide for their family. If the author could have just got over or refrained from the constant reminder that she’s skeptical at best about sex work, the book would be an excellent case study about the legality of brothels in Nevada and all the folks—from the owners to the bartenders to the sex workers to the clients—who play a role in it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura Santoski

    I would have liked to see more commentary in this book. It's very informative and interesting - and surprisingly not graphic - but the parts I found most interesting were when Alexa Albert got into the more theoretical aspects of prostitution (like whether it encourages the commodotization of women). However, she generally just stuck to the facts and didn't offer many opinions. That's not bad by itself, but I think this book had the potential to be a lot deeper.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Much more sociological that I was expecting. Good as a study, but not great as some trashy leisure reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Behind the scenes at a whorehouse. Very readable. Especially the parts where the ladies sabotage each other. For example, one lady filled another's shampoo bottle with Nair.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hal

    A profile of the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada written by a psychologist who spent time there observing and interviewing participants. I lived in Reno for about 15 years during the original time the ranch was in operation and though not a great deal of attention was paid to it as I recall the fact that is was there was always a curiosity for many. This book itself was not terribly interesting and dragged in places. But there was some information about the people and some of the activities that A profile of the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada written by a psychologist who spent time there observing and interviewing participants. I lived in Reno for about 15 years during the original time the ranch was in operation and though not a great deal of attention was paid to it as I recall the fact that is was there was always a curiosity for many. This book itself was not terribly interesting and dragged in places. But there was some information about the people and some of the activities that were surprising. The industry itself goes hand in hand with the nature of what Nevada is and the gaming connections where tourist dollars are sacrosanct. The book wraps up with the final shut down by the government in 1999. However since this book was written I understand it was reopened at a nearby location under completely new owners that apparently puts a permanent end to the Joe Conforte influence.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    I thought this was a very interesting look at brothel prostitution in Nevada. It covered some of the history, the politics, etc., as well as the stories of the women who work in the brothels and some of the customers. The author lived at the Mustang Ranch for brief periods on and off over several years in order to get a unique perspective on the lives of the prostitutes and their customers. This book made me think and question more about the issue of legal prostitution and the different aspects I thought this was a very interesting look at brothel prostitution in Nevada. It covered some of the history, the politics, etc., as well as the stories of the women who work in the brothels and some of the customers. The author lived at the Mustang Ranch for brief periods on and off over several years in order to get a unique perspective on the lives of the prostitutes and their customers. This book made me think and question more about the issue of legal prostitution and the different aspects of it. From the book: "However disturbing the idea of commercial sex may be to some of us, it's naive to believe that prostitution can ever be eliminated."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Interesting book on a topic that society deems as provocative and morally wrong. This book could almost be considered historical (ha) as it is about the Mustang Ranch in earlier years (not current). This book gives a different view on prostitution and legal prostitution. Open your mind to this concept - we all are human. Also, interesting that the author is a doctor and goes into the study on a medical research mission, but the book takes a turn for a sociological research excursion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Surprisingly interesting for such an odd subject. Started out as a health study, but obviously expanded.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    I enjoyed this book. There was a lot of interesting history of legal prostitution in Nevada. The book gives a completely different perspective of prostitution, prostitutes, and their motivation.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kachina

    This was an interesting book about an interesting group of people. I've been on a nonfiction kick lately, and this fit perfectly.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Burke

    I found this book to be quite interesting. I’m curious to know how the brothels are run nowadays. This book was written about 17 years ago so I’m sure a lot has changed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa

    3.5 stars. A formative and interesting look at Nevada’s most famous brothel, Mustang Ranch. Definitely food for thought

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Lange

    At very interesting read and well written.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lynsey Grzejszczak

    Good read that illustrates a world many don’t know about. The world is full of people and bringing humanity to something that is seen as so negative is great.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Danna

    Mustang Ranch is a behind-the-scenes tale of Nevada's legal brothels. Author Alexa Albert ends up spending years visiting Mustang Ranch and getting to know its residents prostitutes. As a student, Albert decided to first visit Mustang to learn about condom use in the brothels. She stuck around because she fell in love with the women, wanted to learn more, and (seemingly) wanted to share their stories. I believe that in the course of her time, she may have become slightly biased, but the book is Mustang Ranch is a behind-the-scenes tale of Nevada's legal brothels. Author Alexa Albert ends up spending years visiting Mustang Ranch and getting to know its residents prostitutes. As a student, Albert decided to first visit Mustang to learn about condom use in the brothels. She stuck around because she fell in love with the women, wanted to learn more, and (seemingly) wanted to share their stories. I believe that in the course of her time, she may have become slightly biased, but the book is still a unique look inside the brothels. More importantly, it places a high value on these women who worked so hard to earn their way. I fell in love with Chau, the Mustang Ranch traveling manicurist. Her story about how the women working at the Ranch became her family is moving, and reveals the strong bond and sense of community that held this business together. In the beginning of the book, Albert gives a brief introductory to legalized prostitution in the United States. Two of my favorite history pieces: 1. When Searchlight, NV created a town ordinance stating that no brothel could be within 400 yards of a school, the town relocated the school. 2. I want to learn more about Julia Bulette, one of Nevada's most renowned and popular prostitutes. "When she was brutally murdered by a customer in 1867, sixty firemen marched in her honor at her funeral, led by the Metropolitan Brass Band. When her killer was finally caught and tried, over thirty special deputy sheriffs armed with rifles and sixty National Guardsmen with bayonets had to be called in to protect him from the thousands who came to witness his hanging." This book is easy and fast to read and gives some insight to the reader on both the pros and cons of legalized prostitution. Women who work in brothels are, in general, physically safer than their street-working peers. Among them, there is a negligible rate of STI-transmission, and I was amazed to learn that the women at Mustang actually treated men for pubic lice at the time of service! Despite the benefits of legal brothels, many of these women still had horror stories and traumas to share, and even pimps. The women are tightly controlled and not allowed to leave the brothel unsupervised. They pay runners to do their errands and their rooms are constantly searched by brothel employees. The rules are stringent and management runs a tight ship. Some of the details are frightening! Favorite quotation: "The one thing you've got to know is we've got a lot of squares getting into the business [legalized brothels]. They've got to understand that we're not selling cough drops, we're selling pussy."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal. Brothels are licensed and regulated, and brothel prostitutes must be tested regularly for STDs, including HIV, and condom use is required by law. When author Alexa Albert first considered researching the condom use by these prostitutes and their customers, she was stunned to learn that (at that time) NO prostitute had tested positive for HIV since the mandatory testing was implemented in 1986. This amazing statistic was so incredible that it Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal. Brothels are licensed and regulated, and brothel prostitutes must be tested regularly for STDs, including HIV, and condom use is required by law. When author Alexa Albert first considered researching the condom use by these prostitutes and their customers, she was stunned to learn that (at that time) NO prostitute had tested positive for HIV since the mandatory testing was implemented in 1986. This amazing statistic was so incredible that it drew her to this social outsider industry in an effort to understand, initially, how this remarkable medical feat was possible, and later, to understand the nature of the business itself. The results of her immersion in this subculture is this remarkable book that explores what it means to be a legally sanctioned prostitute. We learn about the social and psychic costs of this work, as well as the benefits of working in the world’s oldest profession with the legal protections of a legitimate business. This portrayal of the women who choose to engage in this profession is both honest and compassionate, and Albert has succeeded in putting a human face on an industry that is normally not discussed and is often dismissed through the use of stereotypes. It is clear that the author has conflicting feelings about legalized prostitution. Clearly, it remains a form of exploitation, and yet in so many ways it is a far superior lifestyle when compared to the brutal life endured by the average street prostitute. In the end, the author doesn’t present many conclusions about the merits of legalized prostitution, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions. Given the nature of the subject matter here, this was a surprisingly enjoyable book to read, providing a sympathetic inside look at a world that very few readers will ever encounter. The narrative is compelling, and the author does a terrific job in telling the stories of the various people involved in this shadowy industry.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Very interesting read. I especially appreciated the detail spent on political and local laws. The author had my attention as she was neutral in the beginning. As her relationships with the prostitutes deepened she became more intimately involved and her writing changed to a pro-prostitution bias. Even with the blatant bias she was very honest in all facts, both pros and cons, of legalized prostitution. There is a strong emphasis on the economic benefits of the community by the brothels. The brot Very interesting read. I especially appreciated the detail spent on political and local laws. The author had my attention as she was neutral in the beginning. As her relationships with the prostitutes deepened she became more intimately involved and her writing changed to a pro-prostitution bias. Even with the blatant bias she was very honest in all facts, both pros and cons, of legalized prostitution. There is a strong emphasis on the economic benefits of the community by the brothels. The brothel owner lobbies legislators while at the same time claiming to be a libertarian. He also owns a cheap trailer park and charges very low rent to his other employees, cooks, maids etc. He keeps everyone dependent on him. He keeps the rent low because he makes takes 50% of the prostitutes earnings and on top of that charges them rent, maid service and for their cook. For the prostitutes there is camaraderie in their misery - is this the life the author wants for her friends? Many are emotionally and psychologically abused by their boyfriends and husbands and parents who are no better than pimps. Overall the life of a prostitute seems like Hell on Earth. After reading this I do have a better understanding of what a working girl goes through. I realize how many are coerced by loved ones and the brothels are run by mafia-Esq owners behind the scenes. To me that's abuse and a form of human trafficking. I feel bad that these women are being abused on so many levels. I also found myself liking the prostitutes. Some were brutally honest in their disgust for the business and of the men that pay them. After finishing the book I realized that the author never gave the results of her research on the effectiveness of condoms, the reason she was visiting the brothels in the first place.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Growing up in northern Nevada, brothels were just part of the landscape. While they were a fair distance away from the highway, their lights were still visible at night and everyone knew where they were. Although we were all aware of them, there was still a mystery surrounding them. As I grew older, I started to wonder about the women who worked there - what circumstances led to them being prostitutes? What did they think about their job? What made them stay? Occasionally there would be articles Growing up in northern Nevada, brothels were just part of the landscape. While they were a fair distance away from the highway, their lights were still visible at night and everyone knew where they were. Although we were all aware of them, there was still a mystery surrounding them. As I grew older, I started to wonder about the women who worked there - what circumstances led to them being prostitutes? What did they think about their job? What made them stay? Occasionally there would be articles in the local newspaper about the women who worked in the brothels, about half claiming the women all loved their work and how empowered they were, the other half claiming the women were forced by unfortunate circumstances into the work, and were just one step away from being human trafficking victims. The description of this book intrigued me and I hoped it would provide some answers for my questions about these fellow human beings. And for the most part, it did that. The author spent several months actually living in Mustang Ranch for research for this book and got to know the women quite well. Their stories are as varied and heart-breaking as I suspected. Unfortunately, this book also features far too much crude language and explicit sexual depictions for me to be able to recommend it. Call me naive and prudish, but I was really hoping the book would focus on the women as people and discuss the parts of their lives that aren't common knowledge (i.e. everything except for what their job actually entails, since everyone already knows what that is). The detailed descriptions of the "parties" that the author sat in on were completely unnecessary and pretty much ruined the book for me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aja

    This book was absolutely fascinating. As far as texts for class go, this was like candy in a sea of broccoli. Although not the science-based public health book I thought that it would be, the sociological aspect still held value for anyone living in the United States or abroad wondering about legalized brothels/prostitution. Most of what I have read in the past dealt with the negative aspects of prostitution from a bird's eye view. How it affected communities and populations, but not necessarily This book was absolutely fascinating. As far as texts for class go, this was like candy in a sea of broccoli. Although not the science-based public health book I thought that it would be, the sociological aspect still held value for anyone living in the United States or abroad wondering about legalized brothels/prostitution. Most of what I have read in the past dealt with the negative aspects of prostitution from a bird's eye view. How it affected communities and populations, but not necessarily through the eyes of a participant either prostitute OR customer. Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women showed the effect that this life had on the people working at the Mustang Ranch and how it caused the development of community, financial stability, and even family for them. As Alexa Albert talks about in her last chapter. This IS one of the oldest industries of human history. Criminalizing and demoralizing it has only pushed it under ground. It has done nothing to rid communities of its presence and has only caused increased violence, disease, and danger for the women (and men) employed. You may be against the legalization of prostitution, but can you honestly say that the rules and regulations we have in place now to get rid of it have done anything that will ever cause it to cease to exist? Where is the harm in prostitution coming from? The act or the repression of the act?

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