Sunday, October 1, 2023

Sex worker Mustang Ranch teaches TikTok about legal brothels

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Shreya Christina
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TikTokers have always found clever ways to get around the platform’s notoriously strict content moderation policy. Some of the more delicious examples: refer to sex as “seggs” and lesbians as “le dollar beans.” Porn performers reference their work by using the corn emoji, while OnlyFans stars have used “accountancy” to describe their work on TikTok. Dacé uses a different descriptor: The Modern Working Girl.

Since 2016, Dacé — her stage name — has been working at the Mustang RanchNevada’s first legal brothel. Now she’s discouraging what it means to be a legal sex worker in the US her TikTok account, which she started in earnest a few months ago and has since amassed over 75,000 followers. Most of her videos are answers to specific questions from commentators: whether she lives on the ranch if she works there (Yes), whether she can leave (yes, but she has to checked for STDs before returning to work), how much money she earns (probably more than you do).

“I just started making informational videos because people kept asking questions,” she says. “And I was like, ‘Man, they really want to know this.'” The comments on Dacé’s videos may be a reflection of the intense curiosity about the function of sex work in society, but they are also probably a result of the lack of Americans of knowledge on the subject. In our conversation, Dacé clarified the many misconceptions her viewers have while also highlighting the importance of decriminalizing sex work. “Everyone deserves love and a physical touch,” she says in a recent video. “And if they can afford it, they get it. Period of time.”

How did you get to the Mustang Ranch?

I’d always had regular jobs: waitressing, working for someone else. It was just really hard. I always struggled with dating the wrong kind of guy, and I found myself basically unable to support myself with the job I had. Honestly, I thought I was too young and too pretty to wrestle like I was, and I knew you could make a lot of money in the sex industry pretty quickly. I didn’t want to dance [at a strip club] so long, because it’s a really hard job. I also didn’t want to be subjected to illegal sex work.

At the time, I lived outside of Denver and knew that sex work was legal in Nevada brothels. I was like, “Well, I’m not that far from Nevada. Let me look up brothels.” The Mustang Ranch popped up, and I just filled out the application and went for it.

What was it like walking in for the first time?

It was scary. Frankly, I didn’t know if it was going to be a house full of nice women or if they would be catty and competitive. I had never worked with women in that capacity, but everyone was very nice and welcoming. There were the two ladies, three girls who worked in the office, security, bartenders, chefs and about 10 or 15 women.

They don’t really try to make many friends with new girls because there is a lot of attrition. Maybe one in five new hires will stick it out and really work a lot of time, as in, at least six months. They may work for a period of nine months where they come regularly and then we may not see them again. Maybe they’re trying to get rid of their student debt, trying to buy a house. Teachers in particular only come to work during the summer months to supplement their income.

What does your schedule look like?

I usually spend two weeks at the Mustang Ranch and two weeks off when I get home. I usually wake up at seven, get my coffee, check my social media, answer emails, take a shower and get ready for the day. Usually I have at least one or two appointments and the rest of the time I’m available for walk-ins, when I hang out at the bar and grill attached to our brothel. We don’t actually ask in the bar, even though we usually sit there in our lingerie. We ask them to chat in our back offices, and that’s where all the business talk happens.

I’m at parties about half the time [i.e. with clients], and half the time I chat with the gentlemen at the bar. The atmosphere varies from the day shift to the night shift. I work day shifts and we have mostly business people who are in town during the day for conventions and older gentlemen, but I’m fine with that because they’re serious customers. They didn’t end up here drunk with a bachelorette party, which happens on the night shift pretty much every weekend.

Sometimes I have a few appointments and a few walk-ins and I see four or five people a day. Sometimes one person books me for a whole weekend, which is very nice, because it’s more of a low pressure situation. You don’t worry about the clock going around you, you are just relaxing and having fun, getting to know a person and they are generally interested in you. We could stay at the Mustang Ranch all weekend or we could go into town on a date, and the security would accompany me and watch me the whole time.

What is it like to negotiate with the customers in the offices?

I will ask them what kind of experience they would like to have, and they all get nervous. They look around the room and say, “Oh, I don’t know.” At that moment I grab the inside of their knee and I think, “I don’t believe that. I think you know exactly what you want.” And then they tell me.

Sometimes you have to do a little digging and take clues. There are men who come in and they want to know that you were with so many men that day. They will ask, ‘How many people have you seen? Has it been a busy day?” If I notice, I’ll get into that, but everyone is different. There are people who love feet, they see what kind of shoes you wear, they comment if you have open-toed shoes or they tell you they like your pedicure. After you’ve done this, you’ll know where to start.

Most men clearly don’t like to feel trades. So I try to navigate through that very carefully and keep the focus on what kind of experience they would like to have. And then I just hit him with the price, “Do you want to pay cash or card?” We’ll get over it soon.

What are your favorite and least favorite types of customers?

My least favorite type of guy to work with is the misogynistic guy who almost hates himself for even being there and not talking to you like you’re human. Fortunately, they only come in five percent of the time. But I don’t have to work with anyone. I can just say, “Thank you for coming. Have a nice day.”

My favorite type of people to work with are couples who have been with people before or may be swingers. In the past year and a half, a lot more couples have come in because I think it’s popular now to have a third in your relationship, or at least have a threesome.

How’s the money?

I make over $250,000 a year, including tips, before taxes, but after Mustang Ranch gets the 50 percent discount. Under Nevada state law, we can’t talk about pricing because it would be illegal recruiting unless we’re in a brothel.

What are some of your future goals?

I want to stand up for the rights of sex workers, to be able to talk about our careers and not be discriminated against when we try to use our money to improve ourselves and contribute to the community. It’s so taboo, and there’s a misconception that sex workers are dirty people. We are honestly some of the cleanest people you will ever meet, especially in the regulated legal industry. We get tested for absolutely everything once every seven days, so we have the best health care for women out there. We are checked when we physically leave the premises and once every seven days while we are at work.

Sex work in so many forms is legal across the country; everyone and their sister now have an OnlyFans. Only good things can come from decriminalizing sex work and regulating it in the legal system. So much could be funded if sex work were taxed. I know people differ on whether the brothel system is the right thing to do or not. I’m all for the brothel system, of course.

Why do you prefer the brothel system?

I like that we are safe and protected. They put so much effort into having nice facilities for us to use, and they do all the marketing for us. Emails come into my inbox from people Mustang Ranch found there so I can see them. That’s a pretty big value, especially for the percentage breakdown.

Other sex workers want brothels that don’t give 50 percent; they want to work from their own home or a hotel. However, my experience is that if you’re not in a brothel with management, you’re running a pretty big risk of having a pimp or some sort of manager getting a good chunk of your money.

Did you learn anything surprising while working there?

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is how starved our society is of human contact and compassion. People come in and humbly beg for your affection and a little intimacy, more than any kind of vulgar sexual act. I get a lot of questions on TikTok about people coming for non-sexual parties, and I haven’t covered this in a video yet, but so often it’s grown men who just want to be held. People just want to caress you, because they haven’t touched another human being. There are husbands who come in and say, “I haven’t had sex in 12 years because my wife doesn’t want it anymore or her health doesn’t allow it.” They want to respect their marriage and honor the love they have for their wives, but ultimately people need that touch.

This column was first published in the Goods Newsletter. Register here so you don’t miss the next one, and receive exclusive newsletters.

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