Young woman in oldest profession
CARSON CITY – A guest need not look far to see how working girl Sunshine Lane seems to feel at home inside the Bunny Ranch brothel outside Carson City.
Lane has placed bunny-adorned, pink slippers under the bed with a collection of shoes selected to enhance the experiences of paying customers seeking companionship and sex.
Brothels offering prostitution, which have been sanctioned in Nevada since 1861, have been the subject of many media reports, and this place is no exception. Brothel operator Dennis Hof cites a lengthy New Yorker magazine article about the ranch that give its readers an inside look at the oldest profession.
It’s no big deal and all in a day’s work to the 24-year-old woman, who is soon due to return to South Lake Tahoe to live because she likes the beauty of the area. More than half her guests – averaging a dozen a week – want intimacy such as the simple pleasures of being held and touched, she explained.
“It tells me they’re not having intimacy. Guys are unhappy with their day-to-day lives,” she said, glancing around her room that exemplifies her lifestyle and longing for comfort.
Colorful Mardi Gras beads are wrapped up like neck ties above the nightstand – where fur-lined handcuffs, an unburned candle and lubricant sit. A Teddy bear sits on top of a loveseat, opposite from a velvet-covered chair.
A bottle of bubbles stand at the sink on the side of the room. Peacock and synthetic feathers sit in a vase, and a dreamcatcher hangs from a wall.
Soft music on the stereo adds to the ambiance.
“I’m very spiritual,” she said, leaning back on her raised bed blanketed with butterflies.
“I picked these out myself,” she said.
Overall, the room provides a feast for the eyes to an interior decorator.
As for functionality, a mini electric fireplace pumps out heat in the room for the Florida native who was once an exotic dancer. With a hot tub just outside a closet door, Lane has moved up to one of the upscale rooms that she rents for $19 a day. The Ranch also collects an even split of her per-hour profits, which average between $200 to $300. The rates may go way beyond that rate depending on what the clients ask for. Her line of work dictates that of a night owl. It goes with the job.
Clients are not always men, even though the majority are. Many wear a wedding ring but seek a way to fulfill a void outside their marriage without the expense of adding a long-term relationship to their lives.
Lane – one of 29 Bunny Ranch hands – is single with no boyfriend, but she added that many of the women who work there do.
Having sex for money fails to deter most who choose the profession from nurturing a healthy relationship with their spouses and significant others, she said.
“I love sex. If you don’t love sex, you shouldn’t be here,” she said, further admitting that some women might have no where to go.
But this young woman has dreams.
“This is a stepping stone for me,” she said.
A competitive ice skater years ago in Tampa, Lane would like to retire in five years to open her own arena. She also talks about opening a fitness center with yoga and pilates classes.
Despite the image of the heavy-handed, pimped-out profession, Lane stressed that she’s in charge of her own destiny.
“No one controls me,” she said, sitting upright on her Bunny Ranch bed. “I wanted to be my own boss.”
If someone tries to get rough, she may touch a panic button installed in the wall next to the bed. She said it hasn’t been a problem.
Beyond the unusual, there are the old standards – including the French maid outfit and nurse uniform. This work is about the kinds of fantasies that have stood the test of time.
An 80-year-old man came to the ranch one day with what seemed like the athletic prowess of someone half his age, she said.
“The first one’s the hardest,” she said of her entry into the field two years ago. “It took a while before I could say the word, (prostitute).”
Lane has vowed to refrain from drug use and declares she “hardly drinks” alcohol.
A recent client celebrated his birthday in one of the ranch’s bungalows. Lane put her creativity to work. She put up balloons and brought in cupcakes.
More often than not, Lane said she enjoys the sensual experiences she has with the clients.
She even keeps in contact with some of them via the Internet.
For those she’s not attracted to, Lane will close her eyes and imagine someone more appealing.
“I try not to tune out. I don’t want to be a fake. I want to be real,” she said.
Attitude is everything for the women who work at the Bunny Ranch. According to the madam, there’s no tryout but an applicant must fill out a form, go in for fingerprinting, file a Lyon County Sheriff’s identification card and get a health check.
With the AIDS scare, Lane endorses the practice of HIV testing every month. And all her clients use condoms, she said.
Lane realizes that many people pass judgment on her line of work, and a sign leading up to the brothel reflects the perceived taboo: “Warning sexual entertainment 300 feet ahead.”
She believes our society is too uptight about the activity, citing the aftermath of Janet Jackson’s breast exposed during the Super Bowl halftime show.
What do her parents think of Lane’s line of work?
“They support me 110 percent. I’m an independent woman, and it’s nice too for them to know I’m taking care of myself,” she said. “They brought me up to be open minded.”
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com