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Brothel ads likely to be discreet

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Despite a ruling last week that cleared the way for brothel advertisements, cautious owners and media will probably limit the number and content of ads that run in Northern Nevada.

A federal judge overturned a 1979 law on Thursday that banned brothel advertisements in areas such as Carson City and Washoe County where prostitution is illegal.

Troy Regas, representative for the Old Bridge Ranch outside of Sparks, said his brothel will keep advertisements to the Internet or phone book because it operates a quiet “old school” business. The judge’s ruling can be good for the industry, he said, if other brothel owners will be tasteful with their ads.

Dennis Hof, owner of the two BunnyRanch brothels in Lyon County, said owners have to cooperate with the media if they are going to be successful.

“The radio, TV and news print have an obligation to make sure the advertising is done in a discreet manner,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect a (newspaper publisher) to take out an ad that says ‘(oral sex): 5 miles out on Highway 50.'”

The hundreds of thousands of dollars Hof said he will spend on newspaper and possibly television and radio ads will focus specifically on informing people where his brothels are. According to him, the brothels get calls from potential customers every day who don’t realize the ranches aren’t outside of Las Vegas.

“We’re a legal business in Nevada,” he said, “and we have first amendment commercial rights. Where does anyone get off legalizing a business and then telling us we can’t tell anyone about it?”

Two Reno television stations, however, have already said they won’t run any brothel ads.

John Richardson, general sales manager at KTVN Channel 2, said the station has a policy of not running sex-industry ads, such as commercials for escort services.

While he acknowledged that beer commercials often show women in sexual situations, he said the “end product” the beer company is offering is different than the services of a brothel.

Matt James, station manager at KOLO Channel 8, said airing brothel ads is “probably not something we would entertain.”

Other media, like Nevada Magazine, haven’t decided whether they will run brothel ads. Bethany Drysdale, a representative, said the magazine doesn’t want to block an entire industry but called working with the subject “tricky.”

The final decision will be made by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto because the magazine is a publication of the state. Masto hasn’t said if she will appeal the federal judge’s ruling.

John DiMambro, publisher of the Nevada Appeal, said department and lingerie stores create more provocative ads than a brothel would probably ever run, but some readers would oppose the ads whatever they looked like.

“The fact that it is a brothel is going to offend some people, the fact that the name is mentioned,” he said. “But it’s a legitimate business.”

DiMambro said he thinks the brothels have the right to advertise, but said he wants to talk with his employees more before he makes a decision about running the ads.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.