Jane says…

My husband has a crush on Isabella Soprano. And I don’t really blame him. She’s pretty adorable. For a hooker.

The world is divided into two kinds of people: the people who, by virtue of interest, philosophy, values, or even merely HBO subscription status, know who Isabella Soprano is, and the people who do not.

Isabella Soprano is the pseudonym of one of the employees at the Bunny Ranch, a legal Nevada brothel featured in the HBO series, “Cat House.” Not exactly Masterpiece Theater, “Cat House” is the documentary style account of life for the employees and clients of this, apparently popular, whorehouse. I find it both fascinating and disturbing, say, like how I’d feel about watching an autopsy of a pregnant alien sea monster on high def. I sort of want to know, but the reality is pretty Ick.

Isabella is noteworthy because she’s attractive, in a very girl-next-door kind of way, while the other women who work there? Bowzer Skanks. Woof Woof. I confess to being a bit fascinated by Isabella Soprano, because she is so articulate, and cute, and seemingly normal for a..a…a…well…whore. The uneducated bleached blondes with wall eyes or the snaggle teeth or the botched tattoos? That’s more in line with my…my…my…whore schema.

I catch myself thinking, “Why is she doing this, when she could be doing something else?” The answer is, no doubt, more complicated than the answer I give myself, but probably not by too much. Girlfriend makes BANK.

So what do we think about prostitution? The arguments against legalizing prostitution are that it encourages slave sex trade, demeans and objectifies women, promotes violence against women, and actually serves to increase clandestine and illegal prostitution. Arguments for legalizing prostitution are that criminalizing prostitution is a violation of basic civil rights (the right to engage in fair and voluntary trade and labor practices), legalized prostitution cuts down on the risks of spreading disease (the favorite statistic is that there has not been one case of HIV reported/transmitted among any of the legal brothels in Nevada since legalization), and that legalized prostitution provides for the safety of prostitutes in a way that criminal prostitution cannot.

There are flaws with the arguments all around, but basically, I think that legalized prostitution is actually not such a bad deal for women. We know men are going to pay for sex whether the law allows it or not – and even at great personal risk – hello Elliot Spitzer I’m talking to you – so why not regulate it? Tax it? And empower some otherwise entirely unempowered women in the work force. In that provider-client relationship, the prostitute really does have more power; she is commanding respectable earnings and, although we might nudge nudge wink wink not really conceive of it this way, she’s working kind of hard. Doing something I certainly don’t want to do. She’s got some marketing to do in order to command high fees and bring in business. Hasn’t the Men’s Club of big business and advertising had its way with women to earn their big bucks long enough that a little turn-around is really fair play?

My only real objection to legalizing, or even normalizing, prostitution in the way that the marriage between the sex and entertainment industries threatens to is the effect that the hypersexualization of young girls and women is having on those young girls as they develop into young women. Middle schoolers know the names of the big porn stars – crossover celebrities like Jenna Jameson and Jesse Jane, and they hear how much money they make and see them on the arms of young male celebrities at nightclubs in photo spreads in People Magazine. When the sex industry seems not just normal but exciting and glamorous, girls are more likely to behave in ways that emulate these sex workers. And I’m not judging the sex workers here, porn stars, prostitutes, exotic dancers (Yes, Pussycat Dolls are exotic dancers), “escorts” turned musicians, but the danger of the lure of their lifestyle poses for young girls is that they see their sexuality as something to be traded on for profit or acclaim.

The Shady Lady Ranch a “Nevada Legal Brothel” has recently put men on the menu.

Here’s what I have to say about that:

That is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard.

First, take a look at this guy. He looks like a shaved Ewok. Any woman can tell you that if she wants to get laid, she can go out any night of the week in just about any town in the country, nay THE WORLD, and find some guy who is probably less physically objectionable than Markus here is. Eliot Spitzer, Hugh Grant, Jimmy Swaggart, Charlie Sheen. These guys ostensibly sought the services of hookers for reasons of convenience, privacy, and, no doubt, to indulge in some of their kinkier fantasies with a willing participant.

Women don’t need to pay for this. Here’s what women need to do. Brush their hair and teeth. Go to a bar. Flirt with non-scary single male. At some point mention that you’d like to get naked and swing from a chandelier while barking like a dog but that you’re really looking for a no-strings attached kind of relationship, even to the point that the guy shouldn’t ever call you again or talk to you in public. Is every single guy you could encounter in a bar on a Tuesday night going to go for this? No. Of course not. And thank God. But a few of them are. Without a doubt. And instead of paying him for his services, he’ll probably buy you a drink or two.

Second, is it not bad enough that we’ve got at least two if not three or four generations of girls and young women in this country who are starving themselves, injecting plastic polymers under their skin, dressing to provoke before they even understand who or what they might be provoking, and who are absolutely engaging in ever riskier sexual behaviors at increasingly younger ages? No? Not bad enough? Apparently not. Because now we’re going to invite boys and young men to this party? Anyone could convincingly argue that there are some pros along with the myriad cons for women when they are treated as sex objects. But no matter how much money some women stand to make, more often than not, the men at the top are making more than the females doing the dirty work. There is nothing empowering for the men who are going to be turning tricks at the Shady Lady. Sure, they might make some cash. They might enjoy fifteen minutes of fame because of the novelty of it all, but ultimately? Men don’t need the benefit of empowerment that high-end prostitution might offer some women, but they also don’t need the objectification and degradation it bring, too.

And at $300 an hour? I’d rather pay to get a massage and a foot rub without having to have sex after.

…but Dan thinks…

When I heard about a brothel putting the “dude” into Dude Ranch, being the business man and penis-carrier I am, I immediately thought of the logistics, business model and marketing. Here’s exactly the conversation that went on in my head as I mulled this over:

“Hmm. If a woman wants to get laid, she only needs to show up at a bar. She can be wearing a wife beater, be 3 days post-shower, teeth and hair a mess, but if she makes it known that she wants you to split her uprights, she’s going home with an erect penis on a leash.

“So how do you market this? Well, what does the dirty, smelly, mussed hair woman get in a man at the bar? Does he have a big cock? Hmm, hard to sample that merchandise in public. Does he have a quick trigger-finger?

“Is there any kind of guarantee that he’d perform even modestly in bed? Would he even pay lip service to her needs?

“Ah, that’s it. There would need to be some sort of performance guarantee. An assurance that any money spent on a man would result in some sort of happy ending. And so maybe the men need to be put into categories – Markus would be the big, dumb jackhammer. I’m sure there are women out there who’d want a good hard fuck after closing some big business deal. But there would also be women who’d want their needs tended to exclusively, who cares if the guy gets off. Right? Are you with me? Of course you are.

“Hmm, again. But how can you have a satisfaction guarantee? I mean the finish line for a guy is pretty easy to reach and easier yet to prove. But a woman? Was all the moaning and shuddering just a rehash of When Harry Met Sally? Could she just want a freebie and claim she never had an orgasm, thereby getting her money back and the brothel going broke?

“There’d have to be some fine print that’d say ‘your man will do his best to fulfill your needs, but just like in life, sometimes men fall short.’

“Oh. Here’s another problem. What if the client’s ugly? In this regard the women have it easy. Quadruplechin&asshair man not turning her on? Squirt a little lube and she’s good to go, right? What does a guy do when he can’t see anything but that wart on her face and the bulging hemorrhoids? Pretty hard to fake an erection.

“Ah. Viagra. We’ll give it to the studs like candy.  Mints next to the night table.

“And what about staying power? Would there need to be “tryouts” to make sure $300 per hour doesn’t turn into $300 per 6 minutes? (I have a solution for that – Zoloft. But that’s another story for another time after I’ve had another drink. Or eight.)

“Ok. I think this can fly. It just needs to be marketed to the right types of women. And they’d need a corrupt doctor on staff to prescribe SSRIs and assloads of ED meds to keep the men sporting durable wood.

And blah, blah, blah, Jane, teaching young men to have sex? You seem to know the names of porn stars, so I have to ask – do you know any of the male porn stars’ names? Porn is watched for the chick, not the dude doin’ the chick. But the dude is pretty necessary to the video. Same with this – no guy is getting famous for something 3 billion other guys on the planet would stand in line to replace him for.

I’m not going to stand in judgment of something I would have gladly done as a summer job. I just think this is much harder than providing a seed receptacle – this one will require a pretty bright marketing mind. I wonder if they’re accepting applications.