By Jordan C. Butler
My column at The Nevada Sagebrush has been a zany one. This year I proposed to replace the geese at Manzanita Lake with gorillas, endorsed an ASUN presidential candidate for having “very competent breasts” and gave satirical advice on how to successfully have one-night stands (the secret is lots of lying and alcohol). I also took jabs at Davidson Academy children, Coffin and Keys and even God Himself.
Since I’m graduating this month and leaving for Madagascar to teach English for two years, I wanted to make my last column go out with a bang. So I did what any zany Nevadan student columnist would do: I went to a brothel to cuddle and talk about current events with a prostitute.
Why wouldn’t I? Apart from being a funny story, I’d get to learn what goes on inside brothels. Legal brothels, like gambling and quick marriages, are a part of Nevadan culture. They’re a part of our state’s history. Having spent my entire life in Las Vegas and Reno, I was astounded that I hadn’t visited a brothel before.
I grabbed some friends a few weeks ago and drove to Mustang Ranch, a brothel in Storey County a 15-minute drive east of Reno. We walked into the Ranch to find nearly-naked women relaxing in chairs and waiting to chat with customers. “That one’s mine!” one said to one of my friends like a ravenous wolf. “Can I have him?” My friend chuckled nervously.
These women—or “girls,” as they call themselves—were of all shapes and sizes. Big breasts, little breasts. Big asses, small asses. Skinny, thick, tall, short, whatever. Race, too: Africans, Egyptians, Persians, Thais, Latinas and so on. Anything you wanted, they had. They meandered throughout the Florentine-styled lobby in their bustiers and skimpy negligees and flirted with potential customers.
A girl named Persia came to my buddy and me and started talking. She was Persian and wore a bustier that made her breasts the size of bowling balls. She was smiling and batting her eyes and laughing as if I was the funniest guy on the planet. Then she said, “Can I give you a tour? It’s non-binding.”
We went on the tour. The bedrooms were themed and equipped with Jacuzzis, double-fisted dildos, king-sized beds, tantric tables and curtain-less showers “for watching girl-on-girl action.” There were “world,” Italian, Hawaiian, Asian and princess-themed rooms. The princess room had a white bed with frills and pink shearing.
“What kind of customers get the princess room?” I asked. “Female customers?”
“No,” Persia said with a hint of disgust. “Pedophiles, usually.”
We finished the tour and I was ready for my selection. I announced my readiness and sat down in a chair. Suddenly a woman over loudspeakers said, “All girls on shift, line up!” Prostitutes then emerged from a door and introduced themselves one-by-one, “Hi, my name’s Emily,” “Hi, my name’s Cinnamon,” “Hi, my name’s Jade” and so on until there were nine or 10 girls peering down at me with inviting eyes.
I picked the friendliest-looking girl so that when I told her I only wanted to cuddle, she wasn’t likely to get mad and strike me in the temple with a five-inch stiletto. Her name was Toni, a 5’5”, 170-pound girl described on the Mustang Ranch’s Web site as a “black beauty.”
Nevada state law doesn’t allow the prostitutes to discuss prices in public—that’d be considered illicit solicitation for sex—so Toni and I walked into a negotiation room. I imagined it to be like an interrogation room, but it was actually a pleasantly-lit room with beige walls and a sofa. Toni and I sat down and began our deliberations.
“OK,” I said. “This might be a weird request, but I just want to cuddle. I don’t have a lot of money on me, so maybe we could cuddle for 15 minutes or so. How much would that cost?”
“How much money do you have on you?”
”Twenty bucks,” I said.
“Twenty bucks?” she said, surprised. “There’s a $100 minimum.”
This wasn’t going well.
“But I just want to cuddle. I don’t want anything else. Is it possible to cuddle for 15 or 20 minutes or something for $20? I’m a poor college student and I can’t afford much more.”
“Yeah, no, I’m sorry. There’s a $100 minimum.”
I left the negotiation room feeling like a failure. I went to my friends and reported my findings. They offered to chip in for a $100 cuddling session and said I couldn’t back down from my prank now. I agreed and went back to Toni in the negotiation room.
“OK, how long can we cuddle for $100?” I said.
“Just cuddling?” Toni said. “Five, 10 minutes maybe.”
“For cuddling?!” For the love of Lord!
“Yeah,” she said. “You get other stuff, too, like intimate kissing, a blow job, a massage.”
“Oh, no, I don’t want that stuff,” I said. “I just want to cuddle. No kissing, no massage or anything.”
“None of that?”
“No,” I said. “Actually, I want nothing sexual with this. All I want is for your head and hand on my chest, and that’s it.”
Toni laughed. “Like spooning?”
“Do you want us to be naked?” Toni said. “Or have underwear cuddling?”
“No, no, you don’t have to be naked. We can cuddle just with our clothes on. That’s all I want. I’m keeping my clothes on.”
“Fifteen minutes,” she said.
“Well, since there’s nothing sexual and we’re not going to be naked, can we do it for 20 minutes?”
“We’ll see what I can do,” she smiled. “So why do you want to cuddle? Do you just really like cuddling?”
“I haven’t had a girlfriend in a few months,” I said, faking a sad smile. “I miss the affection. I like the feeling of companionship that goes along with cuddling.”
The fact that she then checked my genitals for STDs led me to believe that she thought I would try to turn our cuddling into a bondage-and-domination party or something. She inspected me with gloved hands and sanitized me with a wipe to make sure that “I didn’t have anything that God didn’t put there.” The inspection wasn’t awkward, though: It was like getting a physical at the doctor’s office, except this doctor was probably willing to masturbate in front of me for a certain price.
Minutes later we were in Toni’s bedroom. There were stuffed animals hanging in a net from the ceiling. A boombox on one of her cabinets was blasting Ludacris. I apparently didn’t look like a Ludacris fan, so she changed the music to Dave Matthews Band. Matthews’s bluesy acoustic guitar began as Toni rested her head on my chest.
“So do you want to talk or just sit here in silence?” Toni said.
“Oh, I want to talk!”
“Well, what do you want to talk about?”
Politics. We talked about the grueling contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. She liked Clinton, but since she had never seen Obama speak, I told her to look him up on the Internet. “He’s hot,” I said. “You’ll a crush on him instantly. Hell, I do! I have a total man-crush on Obama!” She laughed heartily.
The conversation turned to Toni’s past clients. Toni said she had a client who paid her to kick him in the testicles for five minutes. Surprisingly, she said he wasn’t bawling or screaming in pain but instead antagonizing her so that she would kick him harder.
“But the weirdest requests I get are the guys who make me put on a strap-on and fuck them in the ass,” Toni said. I asked her if it was awkward to do sexual things with strangers, and she said no. She saw her work at the Mustang Ranch as “experiences” instead of sex.
“So in your eyes, you don’t have sex with customers? You have experiences with them?” I asked. She nodded.
I asked my prostitute about the United States’ deteriorating economy. She didn’t know much about the economy, but she said the Mustang Ranch was getting less business than usual.
I told Toni about Madagascar, but she didn’t know where it was. I started tracing Africa in the air with my finger and said the continent was shaped like a shoe. She disagreed and said it looked like a horse’s head bending down for water. She joined me in drawing Africa with her finger in the air—how silly we must’ve looked!
At one point Toni rolled onto her belly, folded her hands under her chin and placed her head on my chest so she could gaze dreamily into my eyes. She remained like that for the rest of our cuddling session.
I looked at my watch some time later and was shocked.
“We’ve been cuddling for 40 minutes!” I said.
“Yeah…?” Toni said, unconcerned. I shrugged and we kept cuddling.
Another 20 minutes of cuddling and laughing went by. I was getting concerned for my wallet’s sake. I said: “We’ve been cuddling for an hour! Are you going to charge me for it? I don’t want to pay for $400 of cuddling.”
“No, it’s OK,” Toni said. “I’m an independent contractor, so I can set my own rate.” Then she playfully jumped to her knees. “Hey, do you want to play a game? Want to play Scattergories?” She pointed to one of her cabinets, and sure enough, Scattergories lay on top. I politely declined.
We started talking about our hobbies. Toni liked to draw. She went to a cabinet and took out her sketchbook. Inside there were rudimentary drawings of Woodstock, Toni’s favorite cartoon character. There was also an angel sitting on a mountaintop, crying, with her head in her folded arms. Underneath it said, “The unloved.”
“Wait a second, is that you?” I asked.
When she placed her hands back on my chest, I realized that Toni didn’t want me to leave. I came to the brothel to cuddle as a prank—and it was funny that I talked about the Democratic primary and America’s declining economy with a prostitute—but then it turned into a genuine conversation on traveling, Lake Tahoe, Harry Potter and what we wanted to do with our lives.
Toni, “the unloved,” only wanted someone to talk to. In a twisted way, Toni got more love than most people, but it wasn’t the type of love she wanted. The love she wanted was the kind I gave her: platonic and friendly attention. Why else did our 20-minute cuddling session last an hour and a half? Why else was Toni so reluctant to let me leave?
My suspicions were correct. The next evening Toni wrote on the Mustang Ranch’s Web site: “Last night I had a college student I thought you know that he would want what every college student wanted (straight lay). But once we got to the negotiation room to my surprise what he wanted to do is just spend a little time with me an cuddle no sex massage or foreplay. Just lay cuddle an talk we must have cuddled an talked for an hour. It was such a change from the regular straight lay it was so nice.. So if anyone is up for cuddle time I am willing an ready!!!”
And as I think of Toni and all the other lonely and underappreciated people I know, I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Mother Teresa: “There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love.”
Let’s solve that problem. Being more loving shouldn’t involve a columnist on his last hurrah, and it doesn’t hurt or cost a thing—at least in most cases. In my case it cost $100.