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Brothel: Mustang Ranch and Its Women Paperback – June 25, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A journey into a fascinating subculture, Alexa Albert's exploration of Nevada's infamous cathouses began as a public-health study into the safe-sex practices of these legal working girls and the effectiveness of condom requirements in preventing sexually transmitted diseases. It took her three years to gain access to the brothels, and when her project was eventually approved by the head of the Nevada Brothel Association, she was surprised to be invited to stay at Mustang Ranch, among the women of the brothel, for the duration of her research. She learned that despite the legalization of prostitution in several counties of Nevada, the working girls still faced restrictive local ordinances and work regulations that kept them virtual prisoners inside the brothel compound. Outside, they encountered the same social stigma that has always haunted sex workers. In her compassionate, engaging first book, Albert answers all the questions you might ever have about prostitutes, providing a rich and nuanced depiction of a largely hidden world. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps the most prominent legal brothel in Nevada, Mustang Ranch held mythical status in contemporary Western culture until it was shut down on racketeering charges in 1999. As a medical student, Albert was granted rare access to this intensely private world in order to conduct a study on condom use, and lived periodically at Mustang Ranch from 1993 to 1999. Her routine study soon deepened in tandem with her curiosity about the politics of prostitution and about the prostitutes themselves. In this straightforward account, she details the brothel regimen (from the women's relative captivity to what happens during various "parties") and explores the private lives of the women who work there, as well as those of the "johns" and the workers who service the Ranch. Yet the heart of the book lies in Albert's exploration of the sense of family that thrives in the brothel with all the fractious infighting, competition and camaraderie inherent in any community. Her short history of the legalization of prostitution in Nevada revolves around Joe and Sally Conforte who officially owned Mustang Ranch until charges of tax evasion forced Joe into hiding in South America in 1990 while illuminating the confluence of public opinion and economic forces that spurred legalization. Acknowledging her own feelings (which range from disgust to profound respect), Albert convincingly dispels myths about this mysterious world and provides a strong defense for the legalization of prostitution. (May 15)Forecast: More current and sociological than last year's The Last Madam (which was set in New Orleans), this engrossing, plainly told account should attract considerable attention as Albert travels the country on her seven-city tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449006581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449006580
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Unlike illegal drugs, prostitution has received very little in the way of serious study. That's what makes Alexa Albert's book, "Brothel" so valuable. Despite her queasiness with the subject matter, Albert has managed to write a well balanced book that frankly portrays the pros and cons of legalized prostitution. There are a lot of surprises in the book, not the least of which is that nuances of the personalities of the working girls themselves. They do not all come from poor backgrounds, nor are they all victims of prior sexual abuse. They do not all have drug problems, nor are they all subservient to men. In short, their backgrounds are as varied as their stories.
Having said that, Albert's book is not for everyone. It is at times very sexually frank and contains some scenes that are not for the squeamish. I also found the passages where Albert worries about what her family will think of her research to be distracting and not relevant. It is enough for Albert to say that her feelings about what she witnesses are conflicted. This is a difficult subject, and this book should be read by both those who believe (as I do) that prostitution ought to be legalized on a wider basis and by those who would seek to try and eradicate it. Whatever your position, this book is guaranteed to surprise you.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. Emory on November 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Albert was given special permission to investigate the link between condom use and # of STDs among the professional women of the Mustang Ranch brothel for a graduate assignment. Albert not only presents this information, but also the reasons these women chose this career, the background of the famed Mustang Ranch in NV (and other brothels in NV), and a look at the day to day lives of these girls. Albert has a lot of respect for these women and staff so this book is no means insulting nor overtly filled with details of victimization or sexual misconduct (rape or abuse). Albert does a good job at showing the perks and the downfalls of being a prostitute and detailing the history of the institution.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Eldredge on August 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
At first glance, I was reluctant to even pick Brothel up of the bookshelf for fear that someone might see me looking at a dirty book. That fear, in and of itself, reveals my own religious socialization that has taught me since birth that prostitutes are evil and doomed to Hell. Never mind the fact that it takes two to tango; it was always the woman that was going to cook, not the poor dumb man who was obviously seduced. However, any close look at this profession rapidly leads to the obvious conclusion that prostitution largely exists to satisfy the needs of men to have pleasure with women. It is difficult to imagine that prostitution is a popular career goal amongst women, and I daresay that even those who do work at the Mustang Ranch today did not anticipate in their youth that one day they would be prostitutes. Having sex with multiple partners of various sizes, shapes, smells and predilections every day is a job description that could, in my mind, only be offset by meaningful financial reward.
Alexa Albert�s book is a remarkably candid look at the world�s oldest profession (I argue that it is the second oldest; the oldest being those who are quick to judge the morals of others). As a medical student, now an MD, Dr. Albert�s account escapes the clinical prose common to the New England Journal of Medicine and breaths a style of common reality into her subject. Being a woman, writing about a most sacred cow of manhood, the expectation might be that her account would be somewhat less than objective. I must admit that as I perused the dust cover (held very close to my chest under my raincoat) that I was skeptical. �Oh no! Another women�s studies book slamming men for something we can�t help.� I was pleasantly surprised that Dr.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By jlaw on May 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an interesting and intriguing book. Perfectly told with great insight, clarity and reflection. I'd love to read more about what happened with some of the women and am ever more curious about the impact of legalizing the illicit. It clearly raises the question in my mind of what would be the benefits of legalizing prostitution in other states. And what of legal prostitution in other countries? Is the success the same or the parameters different? A great read - already recommended to many.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book in a documentary style about the Mustang Ranch in Nevada and legal prostitution. While most of the book covers the sex workers, there is also a chapter on their customer's perspectives. It offers a very interesting view into legal prostitution. It also talks about whether sex is a right, and sex as therapy. I think it fairly portrays both the good and the bad sides of this profession.
This book argues for legal prostitution, and I think that most objective people will be convinced by the ample evidence that is offered. At the same time, legality doesn't make it any more fun, nor does it remove the social stigma of prostitution.
The topic is fascinating, but so is the writing. I finished this book in a single evening, reading it from cover to cover.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pearl on September 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Great book-- also could not put it down. I have been a dancer and an escort for 14 years and it was nice to be able to relate with the stories of these women. This book gives some good insight to what women in our business really think about this job we are in. I do have to wonder though, Alexa... it seems somewhere in the back of your mind you may desire to be in this line of (illusion) work, hmmm...
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