For years Hollywood has been sending out conflicting messages about what’s really like to work in the sex trade. If you’ve watched films such as Risky Business or Pretty Woman, then the chances are you have a romanticized view of what it is to be at the mercy of anyone willing to pay a high enough price.
But in reality, there is nothing too desirable about the unconventional job, as one legal brothel worker will tell you.
Alice Little works at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada, a state where sex work is legal. At only 4ft 8″, the New York-native is a pint-sized star of the sex-for-cash industry – one that she’s been involved with for a majority of her life.
“You may assume my job is primarily about sex, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sex is assumed — it’s already on the table,” she explained for SheKnows: “What I’m really selling is intimacy.”
However, that idea of “intimacy” is lost when she describes what her job requires daily. “Imagine you’re standing in line, shoulder to shoulder, alongside 20 or more incredibly beautiful women, all vying to be ‘chosen’ by the same man,” she writes, setting the sordid scene. “Stressful, right? Now, picture doing that 12 to 14 hours a day, five days a week. In a nutshell, that’s my job.”
The line-up is a typical element in practically every legal brothel. It essentially means that the client can choose his muse from a collection of women, ensuring that he gets the girl he paid cold hard cash to be with.
Despite sounding alarmingly confident about an activity that repulses most people – hence why it’s illegal in practically every country – Little had a tricky start. During her first negotiation, she admits that she “was shaking like a leaf.”
“I was so, so nervous. But one of the things that the ranch does for us, is they pair us up with an older, more experienced girl that has been here. And she acts as a big sister to us. So, she comes into the room during the first negotiation, and beforehand she’ll give us a little bit of training.”
“She’s [the big sister] speaking and they’re on the bed and I’m rubbing his shoulder and I’m looking into his eyes and making a connection. And it’s really more of a conversation than anything else. We always try to leave the business at the door because this is an establishment that’s based off of fun.”
But now, Little, who is in her early 20s, does it without a second thought on a daily basis. “When the bell rings, it means we have guests wanting a ‘lineup’,” she explains before adding: “We smile, say our names and try not to wiggle (it’s considered disrespectful to the other ladies and is a form of what we call ‘dirty hustling’).”
“The guest then walks up to the lady of his choosing and she takes him on a tour of the property. They finish the tour back in the lady’s suite, where they negotiate,” says Little, before explaining how each ladies suite is “decorated to their tastes.”
“At this time we review what activities they’d like to try, experiences they’re interested in, and discuss any fantasies or bucket list items,” Little continues as she explains the transaction. “We then settle on a price and proceed to the office to book the party.”
While this system may sound seedy and quite degrading, it’s actually highly successful – something Little learned when she collected $543,000 in her first year. While that sum may seem highly appealing, it gets less so when you learn that the house she works in takes a 50% cut and that, as an independent contractor, she has to sort her own taxes.
But, it’s not only the money that gets Little out of bed (and back into bed) each day:
“So, what is it like to be a legal sex worker? It’s countless hours of my life I’ll never get back sitting at the nail salon. It’s spending more than $2,500 per year on condoms and lube. It’s stigmatizing, degrading, difficult and the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.”
“My job is that of a psychologist, relationship coach and sexpert all rolled into one. During downtime, I continue to educate myself on matters of human sexuality, psychology and sociology — books, lectures, online videos — anything I can get my hands on.”
However, she is aware that her work is heavily stigmatized by society. “Sex work is a public service, and not one that everyone in society is comfortable with,” she explains. “As we move into yet another renaissance of sexuality and identity in the new millennium, attitudes may continue to shift and change.”
“Is sex work right for you? No one can make that decision for you, but understanding there is more to the industry than most people see at first glance is the first step to thinking differently about the topic in general and how it affects society as a whole.”
We applaud Little for her honesty and hope that she continues to do what she loves, regardless of society’s perception of her. With $567,000 worth of work lined up for 2018 already, it seems that it may just be jealousy that stops most people from accepting that sex work is real work!