Sex for Hire: Real Stories of Prostitution in America

Prostitution is a two-person event, but men and women are perceived and prosecuted very differently.

"The johns do have a stake in the society. There is some risk if you're a policeman or if you're a prosecutor that if you start arresting johns, that one of them will be your neighbor, your boss, whatever else," explained Kristof. "It's much simpler just to arrest the young women."

Referring to the Spitzer situation, Kristof said, "I'm just afraid that people are going to mistake that for typical prostitution in the U.S., and you know, that is a sliver of it, but for an awful lot of young women and girls -- and girls meaning, you know, teenage girls, young girls -- it is not a choice, it's a nightmare."

Happily Ever After at the Bunny Ranch?

But what happens when prostitution is legal? What about the women who work in the 30 legal brothels of Nevada?

All sorts of people, from businessmen to cowboys, even some women, visit the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nev., for an opportunity to hire one of the women sex workers.

Christina, who ended up at the ranch after 37 foster homes and was trying to put herself through nursing school, said working at the legal brothel seemed like a dream come true.

"[Owner Dennis Hoff] told me that I could make a good living out here and that I'd be happy. I'd never go without a roof over my head. I'd never go hungry, I'd never go without money."

Another one of the prostitutes, a former nurse, said, "In here I can work four, five, six hours if I wanted to and make as much money in one day that I can in two weeks nursing."

Men spend large amounts of money at the ranch for not only sex but for what is commonly referred to as the GFE: The Girlfriend Experience. "He wants you to be his girlfriend for however long he booked you for," one prostitute explained. "Whether that's 10 minutes or 10 hours, kissing, holding hands, cuddling."

Hoff tells his employees to "fulfill those fantasies. Be the fantasy experience you know and create them. You'll be rewarded handsomely, have six figures and live happily ever after."

"My rate is $2,000 an hour for everything, $1,000 for half an hour, $500 for 15 minutes," another employee claimed.

Though licensed sex workers are legally allowed to charge for their services in Nevada, the drug culture still integrates itself into the lives of some women there.

According to a Bunny Ranch prostitute named Danielle, "A lot of the girls here do drugs. Whether it's illegal drugs on the street, coke and ecstasy kind of stuff, or whether its prescription drugs, three or four Xanax to get through the day, most of them are on something."

Dependence on Pimps

There are about 800 women working in legal brothels in Nevada. However, the majority of prostitutes in America are the tens of thousands working in fear of and dependency on the men who make the money -- the pimps.

"Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the girls we work with have been under, or are under, the control of a pimp at some point," said GEM's Lloyd. "If we're talking about girls or young women who have been, you know, systematically abused, who have previous trauma, who maybe have run away from home and are currently in a really vulnerable situation, and this adult man who comes onto them, and promises them the world, that can be very intoxicating."

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