It was high noon at the Bunny Ranch. Wild horses frolicked in herds, making their way around the see-through white gates that surround the ranch. The air was warm and the feeling was calm as mountains back dropped the far landscape. Inside, red velvet covered the room from floor to ceiling, dim lights scattered throughout. Doors leading to a variety of rooms filled the halls, including the hard-to-miss ‘Pussy Powder Room’ (which purposed as the bathroom) and the boldly named ‘Hooker Booker’ ( appointment-scheduling office), positioned directly across from it.
A couple of working girls, and a very protective dog later, an exclusive view of Dennis Hof’s legal sex brothel was made clear, but in an entirely different light one might predict. Hof's reputation for his racy HBO show, Cathouse, created himself the stigma of a “pimp” in the media. But what about the side of Mr. Hof and the girls working at the ranch not mentioned by the media? Their values, their past, the details behind the scenes that are continuously shaken off and left unasked?
Barefooted and wearing a black Bunny Ranch button-down polo, Hof had the set up at his dining room table while Cooper, the cameraman, dodged Hof’s 14-year-old-dog, Domino, who had six teeth pulled the day before.
Three detailed, hand-painted canvases of Hof and his pup, were the focal point of the dining room.
“Could you please close those blinds a bit so the light doesn't shine in my eyes during this?,” Hof politely requested.
The interview began. Having done prior research, it was easy to find anything, maybe even too much information, on Hof and the details of the Bunny Ranch - the “champagne parties,” “to-go orders,” and “around the world” experiences offered on the Bunny Ranch menu are not as innocent as they sound. However, finding information on who Hof was away from the Bunny Ranch didn’t come as easy.
“Growing up I wanted to be a firefighter. I’ve got a great picture of me and a little fire truck when I was about three or four years old. In fact, the fire truck is sitting right out of the house here,” Hof motioned over his left shoulder to indicate where the truck was. “I’ve still got that thing, but it didn't work out that way.”
Although Hof’s childhood dream of becoming a firefighter didn’t pan out, his start as a businessman out of Phoenix laid a foundation for his successes today. It wasn’t until a vacation to northern Nevada when the idea to pursue ownership of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch would start to unfold. But that was not Hof’s original career plan.
Being a businessman, Hof began to buy gas stations around the Reno-Tahoe area. A little while later, Hof discovered a girl he had been dating was a working girl at the ranch, which had been in business since 1955. Hof was curious.
“So she convinced me, which I had no idea what this was about, to come out and take a look at things,” Hof said. “So I went out and I said, ‘Well besides what they’re selling it was kind of normal to me.’”
Hof saw opportunity. He made a move in 1978.
“My buddy Andy Kaufman and I were brainstorming back and forth with all these ideas on how to run this place, and he says, ‘You know what, let’s buy this place, you should buy this place and treat everybody the way you and I are being treated. That’ll be a winner’. And now it’s one of the most famous places in the world.”
Hof is an evolver, humbly admitting he was a bit skeptic of it all at first. He discussed how people easily take sides and live in a world of black and white. Once they see past those uncomforts and tune into a new perspective they will produce success. A movement of growth within oneself, an evolutionary accomplishment of moving past our egos.
His ability to evolve and let go of traditional ways of thinking, is one of the main factors in keeping prostitution out of the hands of criminals in Nevada.
Hof points out in almost every interview he does: “Prohibition does not work.”
Not only is Hof a businessman , but also somebody of notoriety. Hof chooses to do something about the sex trafficking issue happening every minute in our country, while America remains blindfolded with mis-guided information on his brothels from the media.
Hof refers to the women employed at the ranch as “working girls.” These women have rights and are independent contractors who can refuse business to anyone. They get tested weekly for HIV, and are choosing to be in this field of work. Not forced.
“We get over 1,000 applications a month from girls wanting to work at the ranch. Including teachers and students trying to pay off school loans,” said Hof.
Women working at the ranch choose their hours and dates when they want to come in. Some women choose to work as little as one month out of the year.
AWAKEN, an organization working to eliminate sex-trafficking in Reno, declined to take on an interview because of the questions that would be asked regarding their thoughts on Dennis Hof and the Bunny Ranch.
Even though Hof is against sex-trafficking also, their refusal to answer questions regarding him indicated how uncomfortable people remain when it comes to legalizing prostitution. But the stories that lie behind the doors of the ranch are all the reason to listen.
Hof does not want to be viewed as a pimp in terms of criminals on the streets sex-trafficking and violating women’s rights, but accepts the label when used light-heartedly. In fact he just recently released a book titled The Art of The Pimp.
There is no such thing as beating around the bush with Hof. Every question asked was followed with a sincere,honest, and lengthy response. As the interview continued, it felt like catching up with an old friend rather than a “pimp.”
“My life has changed to where I do a lot of traveling, so now I insist on adding an extra day or two to the trip,” Hof said. “I try to add more time to it so I can do some sight seeing, enjoy the area, my time and the girl I’m with.”
Hof’s parents, both involved in WWII, passed before he took ownership of the Bunny Ranch.
“My father would be like, ‘Yeah right on,’ if he knew what I was doing,” Hof explained, “And I think my mom would go, ‘Ehh.I don’t know about this.’ Ya know her Catholic background would pop up and all that,” Hof chuckled.
“I don’t have any vices except I eat too much and I love hot girls,” Hof laughed.
America could most likely relate with Hof on at least one of those statements.
“My favorite foods in order are Asian,Italian, and Mexican.”
These small tidbits of details illustrate a Dennis Hof America fails to see. The last thing an American against legalizing prostitution would want to do is sit down and relate with Dennis Hof. But why is that? Many of the interviews featuring Hof have somebody trying to expose something that isn’t there. Hof explains that the negative stigma and stereotypes framing America's view on the legalization of prostitution only feed revenue into the blackmarket, empower criminals, and endanger women.
As the interview came to an end Hof made sure t-shirts and his famous hot-sauce were provided as parting gifts.
HGTV’s House Hunters played on the flatscreen as I walked into Caressa's well decorated, cozy-scheek home in Reno.
Caressa’s long blonde hair fell over her shoulders and her natural makeup complimented her features well. She explained her love for home shows and how she is working on getting her realtor licence.
“You must have good energy, It usually takes a day or so for my cat to come around anyone,” Caressa said.
Cathouse star, Caressa Kisses, the ranches’ known sweetheart, has been working at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch for several years.
The conversation began discussing beliefs about the impact positive and negative energy can have on the world, including a brief chat on Caressa’s go-to book, The Secret, which focuses on the law of attraction.
“Caressa is a fictional character I made a long time ago. I came up with the name Caressa because it’s an Italian spin-off of my real name, and Kisses was an idea from my clients. They always used to say, ‘Caressa, you're so kissable.’ And it stuck.”
Caressa grew up with her grandparents mostly raising her. Eager to support herself with a reliable income, at sixteen-years old she decided to invest in equipment to become a cam girl.
“My friends would come back with $500 in a single night stripping, but I wasn’t old enough to do that,” Caressa explained.
Still a virgin, she made cam videos on her own where users could subscribe to watch her roam throughout her house. Sometimes naked, sometimes clothed.
“I stuck to just camming. I’ve heard frightening stories about the porn industry so I knew I didn’t want to get into that,” Caressa said.
After a couple of years, a viewer asked if she’d come to the Bunny Ranch proposing $25,000 to her.
“I’d be crazy to turn that kind of money down!” said Caressa. “To me, to anyone, that's a fortune.”
After some time, Caressa became known as the 'Sweetheart' of the ranch, known for giving clients the ‘girlfriend experience.’
“At that point in my life, I wanted more. I just felt like I had a hole missing inside of me. I wanted to see what I was capable of outside of the ranch so I went to school in Las Vegas to study as a surgical technician.”
Graduated and unable to find a reliable job in her field, she started to miss the ranch, her clients, and her work.
“After knowing I was capable of getting through such a hard program with school, I no longer felt empty. I actually started to miss the ranch. It was like I was meant to be there,” explained Caressa, “I still volunteer at the hospitals when I can. Don’t get me wrong I loved it there, but I just felt like I was able to help people in a different way at the ranch.”
Caressa went on to explain the hardships that come with her job at the ranch.
“I’ve had clients have me as their dying wish with stage-four terminal cancer. It’s hard because in a way it’s an honor. You don’t want to let them down. I want to give my best and make them feel cared for. Being asked to be a part in the closing chapter of their life, it means a lot to me.”
Caressa continued, “Having wives with terminal cancer call in and make appointments for their husbands to be with me explaining, ‘My husband has been by my side and given me so much love, but I am not well enough to give it back.’It’s hard. But it’s my job and I take it seriously. I want to help them.”
Caressa represents a different perspective of what it means to be a ‘prostitute’. With Caressa, the meaning of her work is much greater than the stigma it has. The purpose for her is to help people in an intimate way.
“Sometimes I feel like my job is to be a therapist first, and then the sex is just a bonus,” Caressa said. “There are times my clients and I don’t have sex at all. We just go on dates and talk. I can feel what my client needs, and I provide that for them.”
With sex trafficking remaining an ongoing issue in Nevada and the United States as a whole, talking with Hof and Caressa brought new ideas to the table in solving this problem.
“There is so much crime out there,” Caressa said.“When someone's horny and not getting any, they aren’t in their right mind. Legalized prostitution helps get those frustrations out in a healthy and safe way, but nobody is looking at it like that.”
Caressa described the interviews she’s been at with Dennis and how reporters will challenge him while on camera, but after the cameras are off, they switch roles and support Hof and his business.
“People will be like, ‘Oh, Dennis you're great. You're the man,’ when a minute ago they were telling him how wrong he is on live television. Reporters give the viewers what they want to hear, not what they actually think,” Caressa said.
There are more people on board with legalizing prostitution then one might think, but the media does a good job of painting a different picture.
“People like to react,” Caressa shrugged, “But we are all the same.”
That is Caressa’s mantra, ‘We are all the same.’
Repeating it several times throughout the interview; a prostitute, a mother of two, a surgical tech, a realtor, somebody who's seen the lowest lows and the highest highs- admits, “We are all the same.”
“Are you hungry? I ordered pizza. You're more than welcome to have some,” Caressa offered.
As the interview wrapped up, Caressa looked out the window. Cows grazed in a field beside her home as she waited for the pizza-man to arrive.
Pizza, wings and cinnamon sticks were soon delivered. The gracious, “Oh-Wow ! Thank you so much!,” expressed by the delivery man indicated the generous tip Caressa left for him.
Setting her Louis Vuitton wallet down, she headed to the fridge to grab Ranch, her favorite hot-sauce- Sriracha, and two glasses of water.
Hof is a businessman open to suggestions for improving his business.
Caressa, cares about her work. She is a do-good kind of person. To her, her work feels more like a calling rather then a way to make good money.
As for The Bunny Ranch, it’s a different culture, but it's full of people with good intentions and hearts.
The ranch is a place that is friendly, free of judgment and discrimination. In fact, one might feel more at ease inside of a legal sex brothel then most regular business establishments.
thanks for being here
I feel my purpose is to show readers and viewers different perspectives of the world through the eyes of others. Everyday I challenge myself to think of new theories and concepts, change-up my routine and viewpoints, and allow myself to be creative both mentally and physically. I feel knowledge is power and when we choose to evolve and understand ourselves, we choose to understand our world and the people in it.