THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Monday, January 11, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 8th in Series




Prostitution: Illegal in Sin City

Some Las Vegas visitors may find it hard to believe that prostitution in Las Vegas is illegal. That’s right. In the city’s early days, prostitutes were overlooked as a mere nuisance. As late as the 1970s, when taxi cabs stopped for a red light on the Strip, girls reached in the windows while distracting a guy and stole his wallet. If a man took a lady of the night to his hotel room, he was often “trick rolled.” That is, the man was given a Mickey Finn or Visine in his drink, either of which made a very strong laxative. While the man used the bathroom, the prostitute would steal his wallet and other valuables and leave.
The police finally said enough is enough. But it was the state legislature, pressured by the casinos who wanted zero competition, that passed a law making prostitution illegal in any Nevada city with a population larger than 10,000. There were plenty of towns with fewer than 10,000 people. Nye County, west of Clark County where Las Vegas is located, has to this day several legal bordellos.

Two of the more famous ones, Sheri’s Ranch and the Chicken Ranch, are in Pahrump, about 1½ hours drive west of the Strip. As independent contractors, the girls pay their own taxes. They also must be checked weekly by a medical doctor in order to keep their work permits valid. The locals in Pahrump have no complaints as there is no trouble coming from the bordellos that take care of their own problems. I was a limo driver for the two bordellos and learned a lot about how they operate. Just ask and I’ll be happy to tell what a reversed half and half is on the bordello menu.

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