LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Brothels are legal in some parts of Nevada but not in the state’s most populous county, which is home to Las Vegas – one man hopes to change that with the will of the voters.
Russell Greer, 32, of A Safer Nevada PAC, said he has always paid for sex.
“It’s helped me feel accepted,” Greer said. “I’m able to talk to someone who will listen to me. To kiss someone. It means everything.”
Greer, who is originally from Salt Lake City, was born with a condition that left his face paralyzed.
“I can’t close my mouth,” he said. “I can’t smile.”
He moved to Las Vegas several years ago and said he has had difficulty dating.
“I don’t see what’s so wrong paying for it,” he said.
State law prohibits counties with more than 700,000 people from having brothels. Clark County was home to about 2.3 million people as of the latest census.
Individual counties can create their own rules. Ten counties in Nevada – all rural – allow legal sex work. Greer hopes voters in three communities – the counties of Churchill and Douglas, and the city of West Wendover, which is in Elko County – will vote on legalization in 2024.
He hopes to go statewide in 2026, he said.
“I just feel it should be legalized where everyone else is, where Vegas is,” Greer said.
State law requires brothels be regulated. Sex workers are defined as independent contractors who must pay taxes and undergo weekly STD testing.
A 2012 study from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found the industry brings in up to $50 million a year.
Tara Adkins is the madame at the Mustang Ranch in Storey County, outside Reno.
“You’re almost like a mother figure to these ladies,” Adkins said about the 50 women she oversees. Clients include men, women and couples, she said.
“Last Saturday, we had about 150 in one day,” Adkins said about the clientele, a good portion who are like Greer, people who are not going to bars or finding love online.
The clients also want to know their partner is safe and STD-free. Nevada law also requires all sex workers to use condoms.
“What’s it like fulfilling that need for them?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Adkins.
“For me, it is probably the best part of this job,” she said. “Making sure that that need of human touch is met.”
The regulations are a big part of the job, Adkins said. They are also important.
“When we hire some girls that have been doing independent work, some of them don’t even know how to put a condom on, so we train them how to use condoms,” she said.
“I think more brothels would be a great thing,” Dace, who works at the ranch, said. “It means that I am safe. I am protected and I can always stand my ground and demand respect.”
Greer said he would like to hope a brothel in Clark County should legalization make it to voters and pass. He said statewide legalization would combat non-legal sex work already happening in Nevada.
“Instead of arresting people for doing it we might as well give them an option to do it,” he said.
In 2018, voters in Lyon County chose to keep brothels in the county. In that attempt, a ballot question asked voters if they wanted to rescind legal brothels.
Any ballot initiative in Nevada requires two consecutive statewide votes and legislative approval.