Former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss has set out for Nevada with a mission to put a new twist on the world's oldest profession.
Fleiss revealed Thursday that she was joining forces with the owner of the Cherry Patch Ranch, a legal house of prostitution about 80 miles outside of Las Vegas, to create what she called a "stud farm" -- the first brothel featuring male prostitutes catering to women.
Fleiss, who was moving and couldn't be reached for comment Thursday, told the Los Angeles Times that she was going to put out a casting call for about 20 guys to staff "Heidi's Stud Farm," and she planned to charge $250 an hour for their services.
But are women ready to pay for casual sexual encounters with men? Several women interviewed said they wouldn't pay for sex, but that other women should have the right to do so.
"I would never go, but the opportunity should be there for other women," said Dana, a 22-year-old from New York.
Do Women Want Casual Sex?
Dr. Laura Berman, a sex educator and the director of the Berman Center in Chicago, says that while women's view of their sexuality has changed, it remains to be seen whether they want casual sex.
"I think ultimately women still mostly have sex in the, in the context of a relationship," Berman said. "But there is greater permission for women to have sex for the sake of pleasure."
Nineteen-year-old Lindsay, who was browsing the Sexuality section of a New York City bookstore, agreed. "Most women I know don't think of sex as a casual thing," she said. "They take it as a more serious thing; it's a more intimate thing, for most."
But Berman said there could be a number of reasons for women to visit a male prostitute. "To say it's just going to be women desperate for sex will not be the whole story," she said.
Berman said the "stud farm" could appeal to women who want a taste of sexual adventure and experimentation, or even to try to reach orgasm, without the pressure of pleasing a regular partner.
Ulku, a 40-year-old woman originally from Turkey, said she believes women who are "not satisfied in their relationship," would visit male prostitutes, precisely because it would be anonymous and far removed from their regular lives.
Fleiss told the Los Angeles Times she wanted to revamp the Cherry Patch Ranch's Western theme into a more "Hollywood" look. Berman said that ambience and atmosphere would be very important for many women -- while men, she said, "are more interested in the woman they're with."
Perhaps the stud farm could become the new place for bachelorette -- or even divorce -- parties for women. "I could see this as a destination for women to go to together," Berman said.
Berman suggested that Fleiss should offer a variety of spa-like services, not just straight sex. "Like a massage service that could go further if the woman wanted," Berman said.
But a number of people -- both men and women -- still question the marketability of male prostitution, saying that women simply don't have to pay for sex -- they could have it pretty much anytime they want for free.
Ann Shillinglaw, a 46-year-old single woman from California, told ABC News via e-mail: "I would never need to visit a male prostitution place because there are SO MANY men my own age and younger who are willing and able to have sex with a woman at the drop of a hat. I know several guys I could call for sex any time I was free. ...No need to ever pay for this."
Sexual Revolution or Publicity Stunt?
But all of the speculation about "Heidi's Stud Farm" is premature, says Joni Eastley, the vice chairwoman of the Nye County Board of Commissioners. The county has received only a "courtesy notice" from Joe Richards, owner of the Cherry Patch Ranch, saying that Fleiss was coming to work for him as a "madam hostess."
Fleiss, who gained notoriety in the 1990s for her call-girl ring catering to Hollywood stars and high rollers and spent 21 months in prison for charges related to her prostitution business, is no stranger to inserting herself into the media spotlight. Some say the stud farm announcement is little more than a publicity stunt.
George Flint, a lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Association, said of Fleiss and her plan, "I have no heartburn with the concept, but we're very worried about getting involved with this loose cannon lady." He said that women prostitutes are free agents who simply pay room rates to brothel owners, and those rules would likely apply to men as well. "The girls are their own bosses," he said. "And the woman can choose [her partner]."
Nevada also has very strict rules about legal prostitution and conducts routine testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In 1987, the state legislature passed a law requiring guests at legal brothels to wear condoms. Flint said the same rules would apply at the stud farm, which he said "better stock up on vaginal condoms," as well as condoms for men.
Ultimately, there's no way to tell if women are ready to pay for sex -- at least not yet.
"They say what's good for the goose is for the gander," Flint said. "I'm not sure if Nevada is ready for this, but we won't know until it happens."