Dennis Hof Invites Lena Dunham And Jimmy Carter On Brothel Tour To Make The Case For Legal Prostitution

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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America’s most famous brothel owner Denis Hof has invited Jimmy Carter, Lena Dunham and a host of other anti-prostitution celebrities to tour his brothels and hear the case for decriminalizing sex work.

On Aug. 11, Amnesty International sparked an intense debate after calling for the decriminalization of prostitution. The world-renowned human rights organization came to the conclusion that decriminalizing sex work was the best policy to keep prostitutes safe from both disease and violence.

The recommendation elicited a furious response letter signed by leading celebrities including Kate Winslet, Lena Dunham, and Anne Hathaway. “What your ‘Draft Policy on Sex Work’ is incomprehensibly proposing is the wholesale decriminalization of the sex industry, which in effect legalizes pimping, brothel owning and sex buying,” the letter said.

Instead of decriminalizing prostitution the celebs recommended the Swedish model, which makes it legal to sell sex but illegal to buy. Denis Hof, who owns four brothels in Nevada told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Lena Dunham & Co are “ignorant and naive” about the realities of legal prostitution.

“I can’t promise that I will change their personal opinion of my business, but I can tell you that there is no way they can come here and not leave with the enlightened view that decriminalizing prostitution is the safest way to eliminate the crime and health risk that comes with keeping the sex trade illegal,” he said in a statement.

Hof purchased his first brothel in 1992 and has given talks across the world including at Oxford University and Trinity College Dublin on decriminalizing prostitution. His business was the focus of the HBO series “Cathouse.”

Hof sides with Amnesty international, saying there is no chance of illegal prostitution going away anytime soon and that criminalization has led to sex trafficking reaching “epidemic proportions.” His invitation is intended to show people what the reality of the legal sex trade looks like. “How are we gonna have it,” asks Hof.

“The legal prostitutes that work in my brothels are licensed and medically cleared of any diseases. The only people who aren’t invited to my party are the pimps and underage girls. They can’t meet the qualifications for licensing.”

Hof likens the effort for the decriminalization of sex work to marijuana reform, where money can be channeled into safe and regulated businesses instead funding criminals to expand their trade and buy arms. “Where it’s illegal in Las Vegas it’s totally out of hand,” Hof told TheDCNF.

There are around 3,000 active pimps working in Las Vegas. Hof says Vegas is plagued with underage girls trafficked into the sex industry and pimps engaging in shootouts.

Hof hopes his invitation to the celebrities will be warmly received so many of the myths surrounding prostitution can be dispelled. The popular image of prostitution is typically of an exploited woman with a drug problem.

But at the Bunny Ranch it’s a different story. “In the legal world it’s a job choice like any other. Sixty percent of the women here have a better education than I do.”

“Twenty-eight percent of them have a Master’s degree,” says Hof. One woman working at the Bunny Ranch is six months away from gaining her Ph.D. while another is a professor who works summers at the ranch for extra cash. The true exploitation, according to Hof, happens in the black market.

“In the illegal world it’s girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who get exploited.” Hof added “If you keep it illegal you perpetuate a criminal activity.”

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