The Challenge of Reopening Nevada’s Brothels Amid COVID-19

by | May 18, 2020 | 13 comments

As the number of Nevadans filing for unemployment hits record numbers due to government mandated COVID-19 business closures, the Silver State is slowly taking a foot off the social distancing brake and cautiously giving the economy some much needed gas. Nevada governor Steve Sisolak’s phase one reopening plan, which went into effect on May 9th, allows non-essential businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, barbershops and salons to resume operations under restrictions. It’s currently unclear exactly when other enterprises such as casinos, nightclubs, and Nevada’s most unique businesses, the state’s legal brothels, will be allowed to restart.

When permission to reopen Nevada’s licensed brothels is finally granted, the score of bordellos that comprise the state’s legal prostitution industry, and the hundreds of sex workers dependent on these establishments, will face unprecedented challenges. As an accomplished sex worker that operated out of a legal brothel prior to the business closures, I offer a few of my concerns regarding the imminent reopening of legal brothels amid a worldwide pandemic.

 

The Necessity of COVID-19 Testing for Sex Workers in Brothels

 

In April, Bella Cummins, a brothel owner in Wells, Nevada, announced that she plans on incorporating COVID-19 tests as part of sex worker weekly medical testing, which already includes state-mandated tests for sexually transmitted infections. She was the first brothel owner to announce her intention to implement COVID-19 tests, and I hope she won’t be the last.

I believe that testing each and every brothel sex worker for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis is crucial to the success of legal brothels during this pandemic. Because legal brothels can have dozens of women living together on the premises at the same time, it’s vital to screen for COVID-19 regularly in order to avoid a coronavirus outbreak. A brothel is like a sorority, where women living together share kitchens, living spaces, and other common areas. Testing will be the most important factor in maintaining the safety of the working girls so that any infected courtesan can be sent home to quarantine before further problems develop. Moreover, I want my clients to have peace of mind in knowing that it will be reasonably safe to visit me and other sex workers in the brothel. Testing will ensure the highest and most reasonable level of safety when it comes to seeing a sex worker during a pandemic. Knowing that we’re tested for coronavirus in addition to STI’s will put potential clients at ease and assuage any fears they may have.

I’m aware that COVID-19 tests are in high-demand and that state leaders and officials are scrambling to acquire the necessary number of tests to safely reopen businesses. My hope is that these officials will rise to the occasion and provide enough tests so that all businesses that could benefit from test availability, including the legal brothel business, are able to purchase the necessary number of tests to safely restart. Sex workers currently pay out-of-pocket for our weekly brothel STI testing, and I’ll be happy to pay for my COVID-19 test if necessary. But there has to be tests available in order for sex workers to purchase them so that we can safely resume work. My fingers are crossed that we’ll have enough tests in the supply chain by the time the brothels reopen.

 

Masks During Sex?

 

In his phase one plan, the governor mandated that all business employees will be required to wear face coverings and that face coverings are strongly encouraged, but optional, for customers. I assume that this rule will hold true for establishments like legal brothels upon their reopening.

I’m certain that wearing masks will generally become the “new normal” in the common areas of a legal brothel, but what about in the bedroom? Each individual brothel sex worker is an independent contractor that sets her own rates for services, and sets her own rules in her boudoir. Although face coverings may end up being be optional for customers in the common areas of the brothel, most sex workers may require their customers to wear masks during sex. For many brothel patrons, this mask-wearing rule could be a bummer or even a deal-breaker. Some customers may be willing to pay a premium for a sexual encounter where one or more participants don’t wear a face covering. Increased intimacy has always been a premium within the sex industry. Kissing was a coveted and highly desired sex worker offering before the pandemic. Given that so many Americans have been isolated and going without any physical affection, there will likely be an even greater demand for that face-to-face contact despite face covering guidelines.

 

The Importance of Anonymity when Contact Tracing

Nevada’s legal brothels are known for maintaining the highest degree of privacy when it comes to the identity of their clients. What happens at Nevada’s brothels, stays in Nevada’s brothels. But what if a customer visits a brothel during the COVID-19 pandemic and at some point tests positive for the virus? While it’ll be unlikely he will have contracted the disease from a sex worker, it will be important for the brothel to know if an infected person visited the bordello. Will the infected customer reveal to his contact tracers that he visited a brothel?

Brothel customers are often very private about their brothel visits. Most clientele would never reveal that they visited a brothel under any circumstances. It’s important that any contact tracing system put in place by state and local governments ensures the absolute privacy of all individuals being traced. If an infected person doesn’t trust contact tracing, he will not fully reveal all of the individuals he has recently encountered, especially the sex workers he has been intimate with. Trust and anonymity regarding contact tracing will be paramount in keeping everyone safe during the pandemic.

 

Liability Waivers for Customers, Sex Workers?

 

Some businesses in the United States, like certain salons, are requiring their customers to sign a COVID-19 liability waiver, so that the business won’t be held liable if a customer catches COVID-19 while visiting the business. A few businesses have also entertained the idea of having employees sign such a waiver.

It’s yet to be determined if Nevada’s legal brothels will have sex workers or customers sign a liability waiver in order to work or receive services at the brothel during the pandemic – or if individual sex workers will ask their clients to sign one. My opinion on liability waivers is that if a business thinks it’s necessary to have customers or employees sign such a document, then that business is probably not ready to reopen. I’d rather have the brothel owner I work for put energy into making the workplace as safe as possible instead of worrying about what will happen if it’s not.

 

One thing’s for sure, I won’t be asking any of my customers to sign any waiver during the pandemic. I’m going to do everything I reasonably can to minimize the risk of contracting COVID-19 for me and my clients. But some level of risk will always be present. It’s a free country. We all have to make decisions based on our own level of comfort as we take part the new normal – and take personal responsibility for the decisions we make.

13 Comments

  1. Robert in Ga

    Excellent article and very valid points. I was thinking about contact tracing and would be less open to disclosure to a third party. I would reach out directly to my party hostess and inform them directly.

    Reply
    • Alice Little

      That’s a really good point, Robert!

      Reply
    • BrianDVD

      This might be a dumb question but is there a difference between a bordello and a brothel? You mentioned both and I wasn’t sure if they meant the same thing or not. Also what does boudoir mean.

      Thank you!

      Reply
  2. Samuel Chambers

    I just wanted to say that after recently finding you first on YouTube and then exploring your website that I hold a great deal of respect for you as a person and a legal sex worker trying to make this system better for everyone. I do hope I can have the opportunity to plan a date with you. I have seen your incredible personality and love your sense of humor. You truly are an awesome person. I’m currently training to be a massage therapist so I understand some of the challenges you are facing. There state of Kentucky that I live and study in has yet to release a set of guidelines for when massage therapist can return and what that will require. Partly this seems to be because people can’t agree on what it will require for massage therapist to do there jobs safely and effectively. I personally hope this outbreak will resolve itself soon because I want a chance to use my gifts to help others heal through touch. I hope things work out soon because you truly are a gift to this world.
    Sincerely samuel chambers

    Reply
    • Alice Little

      Thank you for sharing, Samuel! We are in the same boat, as far as we need to physically touch people to do our job. I hope you get to come out here and we can exchange massages sometime 😉

      Reply
  3. Michael Müller

    The Situation of sex workers here in Germany is sadly extremely bad since our Government doesn’t recognises it as legitimate Work, despite sex work being legal here, leaving them without any support and therefore to work despite the health risks of the current pandemic.
    There is one sex worker I was seeing regularly before it broke out in Germany that I am concerned about because of the reason stated above and the alienation of migrant sex workers by the “Prostituiertenschutzgesetz”, which basically criminalised most sex workers by consructing rules the average sex worker can not follow, for example that law requires seperate bathrooms for clients and sex workers, which most sex workers here are unable to provide due to them often working in their own apartments in order to work independent from third parties.
    That and a lot of other rules contained in this law lead to what I would describe as “Backdoor Criminalisation”, which means that sex work is still technically legal but the requirements for legality are so high that it is impossible for the average sex worker to fullfill these requirements.
    I am not seeing her because I don’t want her get sick, even though it is difficult because my visits were the olny oppurtinity i had for connecting with somebody.
    I would wish they would publicy recruit testers for the vaccine they’re developing in my hometown right so that I could enlist myself as a tester, to hopefully accelerate the developement process a bit so she can get a safe vaccination as fast as possible, since that is my only opportunity to help her in this situation and I would even pass on the financial compensation for probands for a contract, that would guarantee for a few people (including her) to be the very first to get the finished vaccine.
    P.S. Sorry for the long rant, I am not used to write comments.

    Reply
  4. George in Denver

    It will be interesting. I see something similar to what I had when I went to the dentist the other day
    1) By appointment only, no hanging out in parlor/waiting area
    2) You show up for your appointment (or maybe a mask on lineup?), where temperatures are taken prior to entering the brothel and masks required in all common areas as well as the DC and payment taken
    3) At that point mandatory showers at which time its purely one on one and maybe masks could come off (I can’t see how oral sex for example would be possible wearing a mask).
    4) upon completion of the party, masks go back on and client is immediately escorted out of the building

    BTW, I didn’t have to shower at the dentist, but they did require hand washing prior to sitting down in the dentist chair and removing my mask.

    Reply
  5. Mike

    Wow, I hope the legal brothel industry can continue to operate. Lots of lonely people out there with intimacy voids in their lives I think. Safety first, It is best to try to make things as safe as possible for the safety of the clients & working girls & everyone. Are there activities that are relatively more or less safe than others? For example is fellatio & cunnilingus with condoms & dental dams (like plastic wrap?) more safe then kissing?

    Also as Mound House, NV is really only accessible by car for those not currently driving what about the possibility of tour buses? – like once a month picking up visitors & potential clients in Reno but instead of going to see Lake Tahoe it would be bringing us to an even more exciting & fun destination.

    All the best. Weather the storm. Keep fighting for what you believe in.

    Sincerely,
    Mike

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    You know what I think? I think this whole thing is going to pass more or less and we are going to come to a point where it won’t be necessary to wear masks. At the beginning of this pandemic masks had to be worn but sooner or later things will get back to normal and there’ll just be a greater awareness that will be prevalent. That’s all. We’ve survived plenty of touchy feely stuff like forever. During the 1980s there was the AIDS pandemic. It’s still an issue but not like it was. Don’t worry about it

    Reply
    • Deven

      Great Article! Hang in there we will all get thru this !

      Reply
  7. Axel foley

    Alice you made excellent points it’s very important to stay safe. If the brothels don’t continue to stay safe it may jeopardize the businesses in the future. Great thinking also 👍🏿

    Reply
  8. Peter Varland

    I actually think wearing a mask during a session might be kind of kinky. I would give it a try.

    Reply
    • Alice Little

      I totally agree, Peter! I think it takes the kink level up a notch!

      Reply

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