Jan. 7, 2010 -- The oldest profession in the world just got a little more inclusive.
A small Nevada brothel is taking pride in becoming the first to put legal male prostitutes on the payroll, a move some say could fall flat but others think could re-energize the state's sagging prostitution industry.
The Shady Lady Ranch, located about a two-and-a-half hour's drive from Las Vegas, won the right from a county commission this week to hire men. The ruling cemented proprietor Bobbi Davis' sentiments that prostitution regulations were outdated and discriminatory.
When the economy affected her business, Davis said she figured she'd be the one to lead the fight for change.
"With the economy the way it is, why don't we try it on a small scale and see how it works out," she told ABCNews.com.
Davis said there is demand for male prostitutes, adding that she's gotten "a lot of requests" both from women and couples "who want to add another person to the mix."
"Sometimes they want a woman," she said. "Sometimes they want both."
Prostitution is largely governed at the local level in Nevada with prostitutes required to get work cards from the sheriffs where brothels are allowed to operate. Brothels are, by law, not allowed in counties with populations over 400,000.
But state health regulations have effectively banned male prostitution in the past by requiring regular cervical exams for anyone working as a prostitute. A brothel who hired a man faced state fines and revocation of its license, Davis said, because men do not have cervixes and are not physically capable of meeting the state's health requirements.
In late November the state granted a one-time waiver to the Shady Lady Ranch that would require regular urethral examinations for male employees in place of cervical exams. The waiver also required male prostitutes to wear a condom, as is required for male patrons.
Nevada's brothel industry has been AIDS-free since the mid-1980s, and the Shady Lady Ranch has not had one case of an STD in its entire 17 years, Davis said.
Davis, who oversees weekly exams and monthly HIV tests, assured Nye County officials that she doesn't intend to break that streak when she hires men.
But George Flint, a lobbyist and director of the Nevada Brothel Association, said the urethra waiver doesn't cover the industry in terms of diseases.
"The brothel owners statewide are only reluctantly supportive of this," he told ABCNews.com.
Critics of Male Prostitutes Concerned With Disease, Social Acceptability
Flint insisted that male clients visiting female prostitutes undergo a physical examination to ensure they are free of disease, including checking the foreskin and pubic hair. Flint said he's proposed to the Department of Health similar measures for female clients, including checking their genitals for lesions, before they patronize a male prostitute.
"They are intimate," he said of his proposals.
The few women he's run them past haven't been enthusiastic.
"You know what their reaction has been? 'Oh, it's too intimate, count me out,'" he said.
Nevada State Health officer Tracey Greene said said such examinations typically exist in practice, but are not required by state regulation.
Flint said he and other owners are also nervous that the headlines generated by the Shady Lady Ranch will rock the boat in a state that has generally been tolerant of something that makes legislators in most other states squeamish.
"Is this sort of thing going to change the balance of acceptability?" he asked.
Greene said the state health department has not taken a stance on whether prostitution is appropriate and did not do so with their approval of Davis' waiver.
"In terms of the state, this is trying to make a gender-neutral regulation," she said
The legal brothel industry does about $75 million in business each year, a drop in the bucket compared to the $5 billion Flint said is raked in by Las Vegas' illegal sex trade.
The Brothel Association represents 24 brothels in 10 counties that employ about 1,000 women, though only 200 to 300 work at any given time.
Flint said he knows of two brothel owners who "informally" tried out male prostitutes under the radar -- though one of them did it 30 years ago -- and found very little market. He also questioned whether men would be able to physically perform as well and as often as their female clients, especially when they get a client that is 75 years old, "portly and not very pretty."
Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss tried to start a male prostitution business called "Heidi's Stud Farm" in 2005, but gave up while going through the bureaucratic process.
Of the Shady Lady's plans, Fleiss told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week that Davis' plan was not going to work.
"Why would you drive out there when you can go on Craigslist?" she asked. "You have to drive forever. No woman wants to get laid that bad."
Davis pooh-poohed Flint's concerns, calling him "behind the times." His intentions are good, she said, but called him "Chicken Little" for always worrying about the fallout.
"The world is changing and you've got to change or you'll die," she said. "The eyes of the industry are on us. I don't think anybody's going to do anything until they see how I do."
Shady Lady Guy Applicants Coming in By the Dozens, Brothel Owner Says
Davis hopes to have her first Shady Lady guys -- two to start -- working by the end of the month.
So far, she's received more than 100 applicants, many of them looking for work after being laid off.
"They're bartenders, they're construction workers," she said, adding that some are former business owners whose ventures tanked in the recession. Some are simply looking to make money, but " a lot of the guys think this is interesting."
Rates for time with the men haven't been set yet. Women at the Shady Lady Ranch command $500 for two hours. Couple's parties start at $700 an hour and overnights go for $2,000.
But Davis said she intends to take into consideration that women visiting her male employees may take longer at the ranch.
"There's not many women who come in for a quickie," Davis said. "Women want a little more romance and may need a little more loosening up."
While she expects her men to primarily serve women and couples, the men are welcome to take on male clients, just as her women sometimes do with other women.
Specific activities are governed, she said, by what the workers are willing to participate in.
Her online advertisement for men is much the same as for women. Requirements include: "Have a Good Work Ethic. Must be Service Oriented. Have a Willingness to Please. Have a Positive Attitude."
Though her ranch employs women in their mid-30s to mid-40s, based on her clientele of older gentlemen, she's taking applications for men between the ages of 21 and 40 along with their head shots and non-nude body shots.
When asked if she's gotten good looking prospects, Davis replied, "Oh yeah."
"It's not a tangible thing," she said of what makes a good Shady Lady guy. She's looking for guys who have "that special thing about them."
The men will work in a building separate from the main house known as the "Peacock Cottage." They will also be invited to live in the housing quarters shared by the women with separate bedrooms and bathrooms. Davis said she's not concerned with her staff sleeping with each other.
"Most of them will be so tired they won't even think about it," she said.