By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Jenai's been trying to develop a clientele since she lost her job in the human resources department at the University of California, San Francisco. A petite black girl who wears little other than a silky bikini and a heavy dose of perfume, she's the mother of a 5-year-old son, although she has the sleek, muscular figure of a sprinter. She talks about "hanging on" at the university for as long as she could. "I was shifted around to different departments," she says. "I tried to stay there using the university's temporary-employment program, but things just slowed down for me."
Eventually out of work, Jenai was getting desperate. "If you're into sex, this is an ideal occupation," she claims. "After trying for job after job and not getting any responses, I figured I might as well do this legally instead of doing it illegally and running the risk of getting caught or killed or having someone take away my son."
Asked if she ever thinks her new profession is immoral or wrong, Jenai rolls her eyes and says, "My son has to eat and have clothes ... and this isn't going to be a lifetime career." She says she still carries her UCSF identification card with her as a "motivational tool," and as a reminder that she once had a place in the "real world."
A lot of the girls working at the Love Ranch have vague plans about starting their own businesses. It's evident from the magazine rack in the kitchen area: Instead of the expected Us and People, Entrepreneur and Fortune seem to be the favored periodicals.
But there's no denying that Jenai likes the opportunity to make more than what the UC system afforded her. "The money I make is double or triple," she says. "And it's safe. I get tested."
As if on cue, a local doctor straight out of central casting arrives in a set of scrubs and carrying a little black bag. He's here to perform the monthly HIV and weekly STD screenings. Jenai rushes off to be checked along with the other girls. The examination room is small, but features a table of the type you'd find in any gynecologist's office. Not surprisingly, it also doubles as a party room for clients who might desire some kind of medical fantasy.
As the girls receive their weekly medical check, the buzzer goes off alerting the house to the arrival of customers — a group of young outdoor types who, during the winter months, likely would be spending their free time snowboarding. The girls in the lineup giggle. For them, it's a change from the typically older customer they see, a change they seem to like.
The guys, none of whom seems more than 25, make their choices (Ciara, Chelsea, Chloe and Josie) and it's off to the rooms for some negotiations before getting down to business.
View all photos in Kevin Scanlon's slideshow, "The Family Prostitute: Portraits of Women Brand-New to the Sex Trade."
Two weeks into her stay, new girl Nikki has adapted to the routine and is closing in on the top earners. This is a considerable feat since, according to Medoff, black women don't tend to get as many customers at the Love Ranch as the white girls do.
Sheila Caramella, owner of the nearby Kit Kat Guest Ranch, confirms this, and offers some explanation. "Black girls don't get booked as often as blonde girls or Asian girls, but it's just a matter of taste. I'm trying to be honest here, and most of our customers are white and they seem to prefer white girls — although we have white customers who specifically want black girls."
Nikki, however, isn't particularly concerned about the race issue. She just shrugs, "I have to hustle a little more, maybe."
That, she's been doing. "The money's amazing," she gushes. "I did office work before. Hour for lunch, Monday through Friday. I was probably bringing home about $245 a week after taxes. Now I make, like, three times that in a day."
Nikki's scheduled time at the Love Ranch is almost up and she'll be going back home to Riverside, but she says she plans to return as soon as she can. "I was able to pay all my bills today. I'm renting a house. I even put $400 down for my son's fifth-birthday party. I'm able to do all of that now," she says with some relief.
But, she confides, "I'm still probably not going to tell my boyfriend what I do."
What happens in Nevada stays in Nevada.