LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Dressed in costume at The Alien Cathouse on U.S 95 heading toward Beatty, 28-year-old prostitute Christina admits it’s not the path she expected to take in life.
Christina, a postgraduate student at UNLV, is using her time at the Cathouse to conduct research for an independent project on the sex industry in Nevada in addition to her work as a prostitute.
“I worked on and off at the Cathouse for six months and I interviewed, 15 interviews with the other working girls and it's an independent research project I'm doing through UNLV where I'm a PhD student and I teach,” Christina says.
Through her work at the brothel, Christina says she has learned to have more compassion for men and more respect for women.
An industry now pushed to the rural, sometimes industrial back roads of Nevada is seeing a decline in legal brothels in the state.
“Most of those brothels are 40 to 70 percent off and that’s why I’ve been able to buy them all,” says brothel owner Dennis Hof.
This wasn’t always the case. Early Las Vegas had its share of brothels with the last ones shutting down in the mid-1900s.
Dennis McBride, director of The Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, says a “red light” district known as Block 16 was widely accepted when downtown Las Vegas was first laid out in the early 1900s. Then at the beginning of World War ll things changed in the prostitution business.
“The presidential order went out closing brothels anywhere near military installations, and of course we had Nellis Air Force Base,” McBride says. “So Block 16 was closed not because locals particularly wanted it, but because we went to war.”
The building of the last well-known brothel to close in Las Vegas is still standing. Roxie’s off Boulder Highway was shut down in 1955 and was part of what was known as the four-mile area, because it was located roughly four miles from downtown.
With prostitution’s past in Las Vegas, some are asking if it is time to legalize prostitution once again statewide.
One such person, George Flint, a lobbyist for the brothel industry, says a bad economy coupled with illegal Internet escorts is taking a toll on Nevada’s 18 remaining brothels.
Flint said if prostitution is legalized in Las Vegas, much of the illegal prostitution that takes place in the valley will be eliminated.
“There's such a projection of the sexual activity on the streets and the folders, and the handouts, the neon and so on in Las Vegas that percentage of these 20-million men that come to Las Vegas every year want this,” Flint says. “They want it more than they want to gamble.”
Annie Lobert , founder of the non-profit organization Hookers for Jesus, opposes the idea of any type of prostitution due to the moral dilemma created by the industry.
“Men buying women angers me because it lets people think we’re a commodity, just a body, there's no soul involved, no mind involved, no heart involved,” Lobert says.
Once a high-priced call girl herself, Lobert said that Las Vegas is still ground zero for sex trafficking and legalizing prostitution would not solve the problem.
“When you governize and legalize something there's always a tax, a government official in the middle of it, and those people making so much money now without the government involved, they're going to be very upset, trust me,” Lobert explains.
Pimps will continue to run hookers using violence and fear to force the women to make them money, according to Lobert.
“Even though some girls will say I don't feel ashamed any more, I've been doing this for a while, it still affects you piece by piece, little by little, even though you're heart and soul get quite hardened from it, there's still a piece of you that knows it's absolutely wrong,” Lobert says.
The talk of legalizing the world’s oldest profession in Las Vegas will go on and has been floated in the Nevada Legislature three times in recent years. Lobbyist Flint says he even has members in both house ready to put their names on a bill.
“I think if it were well regulated and controlled it would be just like when we legalized gambling in 1931 you know in a much more progressive era,” Flint says.