‘Hookers 4 Hillary’ supports Clinton in Nevada even though she opposes sex work
As Nevada’s Democratic caucus draws near, Hillary Clinton has received support from an unlikely group of people: Sex workers. Or rather, a group of sex workers operating out of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada, under the management of their outspoken boss.
As numerous news outlets have reported, the Hookers 4 Hillary campaign was the brainchild of Dennis Hof, owner of seven legal brothels in Nevada including the Bunny Ranch, and author of the scumbag manifesto “The Art of the Pimp.”
“Hookers 4 Hillary came about about six months ago when Hillary came out and decided she was gonna run,” Hof told The Guardian. “We’d previously got all the girls and talked to ‘em, and the majority like Hillary.”
Hof freely admits the group is a bit of a publicity stunt, but one he sees as benefitting both the Bunny Ranch and Clinton. (Because all the religious Nevadans she’s currently trying to court are bound to love it?) Via The Guardian:
Hookers for Hillary is “a great way to get, not only the Bunny Ranch’s name out there, but to get more support for Hillary … Hopefully maybe people who were not really [political] followers before kind of looked into it and went, ‘Wow, this is big! What’s going on?’
“And perhaps,” said the chatty registered Democrat in skin-tight lavender, “they researched Hillary a little more, and perhaps they researched us as well. So it was kind of beneficial on both sides.”
The Bunny Ranch is offering “extras” to people who claim they are caucusing for Clinton, although there’s really no way to know if they’re telling the truth. Hookers 4 Hillary: Come for the hawkish neoliberalism, stay for the extra blow job!
Hookers 4 Hillary represents a bit of a left turn from 2008 and 2012, when Hof’s “Pimpin’ for Paul” campaign attempted to propel Libertarian Party candidate Ron Raul into the White House. His second choice for president this election: Donald Trump. To read between the lines, it seems he will accept anyone socially liberal enough not to go on a holy crusade against prostitution, but fiscally conservative enough not to raise top tax rates too much. That an extremely wealthy business owner would even consider Clinton in the same ball park as Paul or Trump speaks volumes about Clinton’s tax policies.
The campaign’s AVN press release names healthcare reform, foreign policy experience, and a mistrust of supply-side economics as reasons for supporting Clinton. Many of the “girls” say they had trouble buying health insurance before the Affordable Care Act, as their status as sex workers often led insurance companies to reject them for being “too risky,” despite their six-figure incomes. Taylor Lee, a major supporter of Obamacare, told the Guardian she went into sex work partly because her epilepsy medicine was too expensive to afford on a server’s salary. (Lee, on whose quotes much of the Guardian article is hung, said she plans to caucus for Bernie Sanders, despite pressure from her employer to caucus for Clinton.)
Yet another reason for supporting Clinton: Like many around the country, the Bunnies think it’s time to get a woman in the White House — a woman who, they believe, respects them as workers and people. “We’re helping Hillary, and we’re helping ourselves. Women should help other women, right?” Entice Love told the Guardian in an eerie echo of Madeline Albright’s words.
Hof was slightly less politically correct about it. “They think it’s time a woman should be elected,” he told The Huffington Post. “It should have happened before a black. Many of the women earn six-figure incomes, but they couldn’t get health care before.”
“I think she could work with the members of Congress who refuse to work with Obama,” Caressa Kisses told HuffPost. “Plus, I think she would be understanding to what we do as sex workers. I think she sees everyone as a person and doesn’t judge.”
Unfortunately, that last statement from Kisses might not be totally accurate. Back in 2007, when trying to win the very same caucus, Clinton was asked her stance on “legalized prostitution” (or decriminalized sex work, to put it more accurately) by the Reno Gazette-Journal. Her reply:
“I do not approve of legalized prostitution or any kind of prostitution. It is something that I personally believe is demeaning to women. I have worked against it and I have certainly taken a very strong stand against what happens in many parts of the world where young girls and women are forced into prostitution against their wills. I understand Nevada has a regulated system and it is within the authority of the state. So that is not a federal issue that we will have any role to play in when I am president. But I would obviously speak out against prostitution and try to persuade women that it is not — even in a regulated system — necessarily a good way to try to make a living. Let’s try to find other jobs that can be there for women who are looking for a good way to support themselves and their families.”
Sounds pretty judgmental to me. Maybe that’s why the Clinton campaign has thus far refused all requests for comment on Hookers 4 Hillary, including ours.
In an effort to press Hof on this discrepancy, I gave him a ring. Was he aware of Clinton’s opposition to his industry?
“Absolutely,” he answered without hesitation. “Do I believe that she really thinks that way? No, not at all. It’s something that sounds good for a quick sound bite, but the reality is she’s not gonna take any jobs away from women. She understands that the legal way is a lot better than the illegal way. She doesn’t like sex trafficking any more than you or I do.”
Just to be clear, I asked if he believed Clinton was lying about her anti-sex work beliefs.
“I’m not concerned about it at all, and neither are the girls,” he replied. “The girls are more concerned about things like before Obamacare, because they were prostitutes, they could not get health insurance even though some of them had six-figure incomes. They couldn’t get health insurance because the industry painted them all with the same brush. Prostitutes, illegal prostitutes, lots of disease, lots of mortality, lots of drug usage. So now they can. So that’s very important to them that they be able to keep their health insurance.”
On the topic of health insurance, I asked him what he thought of Sanders’ plan for universal healthcare.
“I don’t know much about Bernie,” he said. “I don’t feel the Bern. I don’t follow him. I don’t think there’s any hope of him winning anything. It’s really nice to tell everybody what they wanna hear, but how you gonna back it up? They’re not giving us any specifics at all.”
I didn’t ask how he knew Sanders’ healthcare plan sucked if he didn’t follow him or know anything about him. I did, however, ask why Trump was his second choice.
“It’s time we get a businessman in there,” Hof proclaimed. “If Hillary’s not gonna win, I definitely think she will. We’re all excited about that — it’s time for a woman to be in the White House, and it’s also reassuring for me to know that when Hillary’s having her green shake in the morning, she’s able to talk things over with the best president ever, Bill Clinton. [During his presidency] I paid more taxes than I ever paid, I made more money than I ever made. I’d like his input on things.”
So there you have it. Hof and (some of) his employees support Clinton because she’s a woman, because she’s married to Bill Clinton and listens to his advice while she drinks her girly breakfast, because her policies are good for business, because Obamacare helped high-earning sex workers purchase insurance from private companies, because they erroneously believe she respects them, and because a woman president “should have happened before a black.” And you thought it was just a craven publicity stunt.
At the outset of this story, I thought I’d be highlighting yet another group of people voting against their own interests. But Hof and his employees are smarter than that. Whether or not Clinton is sincere in her distaste for sex work is far less relevant to their lives than the material effects she’d have on the Nevada sex industry. Under a centrist, non-evangelical Democrat, the regulation of prostitution would remain up to the states. Rich clients would still have money to burn on the girlfriend experience. The economy would remain business-friendly (avoiding the disastrous supply-side economics of Republicans as well as the redistributionist policies of a more progressive Democrat), and independent contractors taking home $500,000 a year would not be taxed too heavily, nor would they have restrictions placed on what fancy private insurance they could buy.
Like most people, Hof and company vote with their wallets, and will do so regardless of whatever microaggressions Clinton’s committed — or, um, pretended to commit — against them.
As for the vast majority of sex workers in America, who are much more marginalized than those at the Bunny Ranch and would benefit greatly from European style social democracy … they’re not Hookers 4 Hillary’s problem, now are they? I suppose they can always go work at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, that is, if they’re female, cisgender, able-bodied and blonde enough.
I leave you with this photo of Bill Clinton posing with two Bunny Ranch employees at a charity event in 2014:
I guess he’s not as scared as his wife is to associate with certain constituents.
[h/t The Guardian]