Shady Lady Ranch: branching out

The job has its perks. Pay is excellent. Hours are sociable. The surroundings are clean and comfortable, if a tiny bit chintzy, and you're guaranteed to meet lots of and fascinating women. The catch? You are required to have sex with them.

A Nevada brothel is seeking men with what its advertisement describes as a "good work ethic" and a "willingness to please" to join the ranks of the world's oldest profession and become America's first fully legal male prostitutes.

Bobbi Davis, the owner and madam of The Shady Lady Ranch, is interviewing applicants, who must be aged 21 to 40 and have submitted two photographs ("a head shot, and a body shot, no nudes") plus a short biography.

"I'm looking for the 'it' factor," she says. "By that, I mean the intangible something, which only a few people have, that makes you really want to know them and be around them. We've had around 160 applications, from people from all walks of life, and I'd say only about 20% of them have it."

The recruitment drive comes after Davis, whose bordello sits on a remote stretch of highway to the east of Death Valley, 150 miles northwest of Las Vegas, successfully campaigned to secure a change in state law to allow male sex workers to receive professional licenses. The Shady Lady has employed women for years. But the economy has prompted her decision to branch out.

"There's a demand for it," says Davis. "Since we started looking for men, I have received emails from at least 60 women who are potential clients. Their needs are simply not being catered for anywhere else."

Nevada has always stood alone among US states in permitting prostitution outside of major conurbations such as Las Vegas and Reno, where selling sex is common, but illegal. The rules represent a throwback to Wild West days, consistent with the state's liberal approach to alcohol and gambling. Until now, brothels have chiefly served long-distance truck drivers, miners and punters willing to endure the long drive from Vegas.

Davis says her decision to seek female customers brings with it two great unknowns. The first involves logistics: male gigolos are a comparatively rare phenomenon, so Davis has so far been unable to establish whether new recruits will be able to muster the "enthusiasm" to cater for multiple clients.

"It's one of my first questions at interview," she says. "There are some men who reckon they can only perform once or twice a day, and others who say they can cater for two or three customers. Viagra might help, and we're also considering Cialis, a pill you can take once a day."

The other unknown involv­es pricing. At present, costs for male customers at The Shady Lady start at $200, for which you get a 40-minute "party". Female punters, however, are likely to demand longer sessions.