Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada's Legal Brothels

Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada's Legal Brothels


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


An intimate and original look at the lives of Nevada’s legal sex workers through the voices of current and former employees, brothel owners, madams, and local law enforcement

The state of Nevada is the only jurisdiction in the United States where prostitution is legal. Wrapped in moral judgments about sexual conduct and shrouded in titillating intrigue, stories about Nevada’s legal brothels regularly steal headlines. The stigma and secrecy pervading sex work contribute to experiences of oppression and unfair labor practices for many legal prostitutes in Nevada. Sex and Stigma engages with stories of women living and working in these “hidden” organizations to interrogate issues related to labor rights, secrecy, privacy, and discrimination in the current legal brothel system.

Including interviews with current and former legal sex workers, brothel owners, madams, local police, and others, Sex and Stigma examines how widespread beliefs about the immorality of selling sexual services have influenced the history and laws of legal brothel prostitution. With unique access to a difficult-to-reach population, the authors privilege the voices of brothel workers throughout the book as they reflect on their struggles to engage in their communities, conduct business, maintain personal relationships, and transition out of the industry. Further, the authors examine how these brothels operate like other kinds of legal entities, and how individuals contend with balancing work and non-work commitments, navigate work place cultures, and handle managerial relationships. Sex and Stigma serves as a resource on the policies guiding legal prostitution in Nevada and provides an intimate look at the lived experiences of women performing sex work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479820702
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Sarah Jane Blithe is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Anna Wiederhold Wolfe is Assistant Professor of Organizational Communication at Texas A&M University.

Breanna Mohr is an M.A. student at the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to her education and research, Ms. Mohr works full time in a legal brothel.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Story of Our Collaboration ix

Introduction: Exploring Inequalities and Moral Judgments in Legal Prostitution 1

Part I Brothel Prostitution In Theory And Law 21

1 Theories of Organizing, Secrecy, and Stigma 23

2 Feminisms, Prostitution, and the Sex Trafficking Debates Written with Mary White Stewart 33

3 The History and Laws of Nevada's Legal Brothels 55

Part II Living and Working As Legal Brothel Prostitutes 75

4 Author Auto ethnography: Life as a Legal Sex Worker Breanna Mohr 77

5 Life after the Brothel: Perspectives from Former Legal Prostitutes 95

6 When Transferable Skills Can't Transfer: Stigma and Worker Mobility 128

Part III Managing Legal, Occupational, And Community Constraints 145

7 Selling Intimacy: Emotional Experiences of Sex Work 147

8 Managing Work-Life Commitments in Legal Prostitution 171

9 Brothels as Hidden Organizations 195

Appendix A Photographing Legal Prostitution: The Art and Work of Priscilla Varner 215

Appendix B New Directions for Ethnographic Methods: Creative Data Collection, Analysis, and Presentation 223

Acknowledgments 241

Notes 245

Index 277

About the Authors 291

Customer Reviews