Prostitution big in Nevada

Leia Karimui Bashar

For anybody who visits Las Vegas for the first time, one of the things they will immediately notice are the prostitution advertisements that are located everywhere along the strip.

The signs are displayed on flashing billboards, on the sides of large vans whose drivers are paid to drive around the strip all day and night, and on the inside of the priciest hotels, such as the Venetian, where there was a billboard for Asian massage on prominent display which assured customers would receive “always a happy ending.”( I pondered the sign’s meaning for a while. Finally, I admitted to myself it couldn’t mean anything else besides what it obviously meant, and for some reason this made me smile.)

Prostitution is legal everywhere in the state of Nevada, with the exception of Las Vegas, although prostitution on the strip is largely overlooked by law enforcement. I was soon seduced by Sin City, and after several days the call girls and street walkers seemed to become a part of Vegas, as integral as the flashing signs, ubiquitous slot machines, countless marriage chapels and myriad homeless people.

When one of our single friends was approached by a surprisingly hot hooker in the casino at the Stratosphere Hotel, we were all, “Go for it, man,” as casually as if we’d just told him to order the 9-ounce filet instead of the 7-ounce at Outback. He didn’t take the woman up on her offer, but my own nonchalance toward the entire situation surprised me. I’ve always considered myself something of a feminist, and here I was treating prostitution as a victimless crime. I guess being constantly immersed in the culture of “anything goes” was affecting our brains. Besides, the hookers themselves seemed completely self-employed and uncoerced. The whole atmosphere made it easy to think of these women as mere sex aids, to be used and discarded as thoughtlessly as a Kleenex.

Everything in Las Vegas, Nev. is just so different than plain-faced, flat-chested Topeka, Kan. Things that are illegal here – prostitution, certain drugs and even walking down the street with a beer in hand – are extremely well-tolerated in Vegas. Those commercials assuring that everything that happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas always annoyed me before, but in the end, everything that we saw and did in Vegas did, in fact, stay there, except for some souvenirs and a small amount of salvia we purchased at a head shop near our hotel. Vegas is one of the filthiest cities in the country and I can’t wait to go again.