It’s time to legalize prostitution

Posted on 2 June 2012


The law is out of step with sexual mores

Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stephan Gladieu/Getty Images

MOUND HOUSE, NEVADA – JANUARY 2008: Tea time at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel owned by Dennis Hof, in Lyon County, one of the fews counties in the USA which permits legalized prostitution. Madame Suzette, who likes to say that she “manages the girls with an iron fist and a velvet glove”, is called “Mom” by the prostitutes. Every Thursday at 3pm, the working girls are having tea with their bosses Madame Suzette and Dennis Hof to go over some work stuff. Attendance is mandatory unless a client is in sight. Each prostitute from out of state works and sleeps in one of the brothel’s 30 rooms during the entire duration of her stay. The local ones are allowed to go home after their shift. The Moonlite Bunny Ranch was featured in HBO reality TV show “Cathouse: The Series” between 2005 and 2007.

It’s past time to put the “pro” back in prostitution.

I’m not kidding. I’m something of an expert/idiot savant on the subject. I call myself the “King of All Pimps” and have the prison term to prove it.

I tried to lend some needed class to this profession. My business was a hit with well-heeled executives and other alpha males — possibly including high-ranking politicians — but was panned by and then prosecuted (successfully) by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

But try as they might, neither law enforcement nor any legislature can dictate social mores. There were prostitutes and johns in ancient Athens, and every city and every civilization either has legalized, recognized and regulated this line of work (ka-ching, sorely needed tax revenue here) or forced men to pay for sex and companionship in the shadows.

Some people confuse sex with love. I echo Tina Turner and ask, “What’s love got to do with it?”

Let’s be frank. Many people are not getting their sexual needs addressed in their marriages. According to the Kinsey Institute, 9% of married men between 40 and 49 reported having no sex in the past year. New York magazine published an article about young married couples dealing with demanding jobs and the care of toddlers. The story dubbed this group “Generation Sexless.”

If you think about it, sexual relief safely supplied by a prostitute might keep some marriages together rather than break them up.

Men yearn for sexual variety, for different partners. Some women admit to a similar need or desire. There’s nothing immoral or wrong about having such urges.

Abraham Maslow, writing in 1943, listed sex as a physiological need, right alongside breathing, food, water and sleep.

Licensed, regulated prostitution will not only be better and less risky for the client. It will greatly improve the daily life of sex workers.

Look at Amsterdam, where a red-light district thrives and women in the sex trade contribute to tax coffers. Look at Nevada, where counties can choose whether or not to have legal brothels — and where the state sends in doctors to check the health status of sex workers.

And don’t tell me that we need to keep prostitution a crime to protect exploited women. Legalization and regulation of prostitution would go a long way to reducing, if not altogether eliminating, the sickening abuse of nonadult prostitutes and desperately poor women who are imported here to become virtual sex slaves and cheated out of “wages” by thugs of all descriptions.

But those women aren’t the norm. The women who worked with me were all fully consenting adults; they used a particular skill set to make good money.

For the life of me, I cannot understand what’s wrong with that.

It’s an ironic reality about American law that consenting adults can have all the sex they want and make a nice salary for doing so — in what’s called the pornography industry. Why is that treated differently from prostitution? Is trading sex for money permitted only if it is duly recorded in living color by cameras?

Back in the 1970s, there was an active prostitutes’ advocacy group known as COYOTE, which stood for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics. It’s much less vocal these days — but that’s exactly what we need now: an abandonment of our old, tired ethics.

It can happen. I see major changes coming. I see New York State legalizing prostitution by the year 2020.

When you legalize prostitution, the word “pimp” becomes an anachronism. Each and every woman in the business becomes an independent contractor.

I don’t know how much dignity you can render to the sex-for-sale business but — just as is the case with same-sex marriage, sports betting and other socially dictated “wrongs” now being recognized as harmless to society as a whole — legalization is the way to go.

Itzler is serving a four-year sentence for promoting prostitution, money laundering and drug crimes. This Op-Ed was written with the assistance of his defense lawyer, Michael Marley.