Fleiss, who served time in jail following her 1995 convictions, refused to release her clients' names during court proceedings. Austin said she would go to jail before disclosing her clients' identities.
At Austin's businesses and other legal Nevada brothels, customers benefit from a state law requiring prostitutes to undergo weekly health screenings.
Fleiss said that even at illegal operations, high-earning prostitutes tend to be healthy because they can afford to eat right and have regular medical checkups. For call girls, staying healthy is also important to maintaining their looks and their earning prowess, she said.
"You're going to do your best to look your best and make the most money," she said.
But the glamorous side of high-end prostitution operations and escort services -- beautiful women and big bucks -- pale when compared with the risks, said Tracy Quan, a former prostitute and author whose experiences inspired her novel "Diary of a Married Call Girl."
"Escort agencies aren't that glamorous," Quan said. "It's very dangerous for an escort, and one reason they charge so much is that everyone's taking a big risk."
Quan said that when she worked for escort services in 1990, she lived in constant fear of getting caught.
The businesses, she said, "were always being hassled by the police; they were always being closed down or shaken down. … I was just so horrified."
Anti-prostitution activists argue that the distinctions between working for a high-priced ring or on the street are irrevelant.
"To me it's like saying is it better to be hit or stabbed. I don't want to be hit or stabbed," said Dr. Scott Hampton, the executive director of New Hampshire-based End the Violence Now.
"Prostitution, whether it's high-end or any other form, is really just an expression of men's beliefs that women are disposable sexual objects or men's property."
But in Fleiss' opinion, working for a high-end service still beats the street corner.
"I feel sorry for the poor girl on the corner," she said. "A guy picks her up in his car, he gives her $75 and he wants every dollar of it. That's a lot of work for the girl."