Nevada Rose: Inside the American Brothel

Posted on October 19, 2011 by


The state of Nevada is home to the country’s only legal brothel industry. While legalized prostitution is often an industry considered undesirable by many, it’s important to the economic survival of the communities where it’s legal and harbors deep roots in the history and settlement of the American West.

Nevada Rose, the first book of its kind, is a photographic exploration and cultural survey of these places. The book gives readers a peek into this legal, albeit secretive, world of fantasy and theater. The end result of a five-year project, photographer Marc McAndrews takes us inside the thirty-three “ranches” in and around towns like Pahrump, Ely, Carson City, and Scotty’s Junction with portraits of the women, owners, customers and the brothels themselves. McAndrews’ goal with Nevada Rose has been “to photograph in all 29 legal brothels, creating the only complete document of America’s fading legal brothel industry.”

The book, published by Umbrage Editions, includes essays by anthropologist Dr. Patty Kelly, McAndrews and an interview with Dennis Hof, owner of the Moolite Bunny Ranch from the HBO series ‘Cathouse’.

While Nevada Rose includes a diverse array of images of the working girls in their working costumes, McAndrews also takes us behind the curtain of sex into a world of brothel life rarely discussed—the kitchens and the cooks, laundry rooms and lounges, timers, personal bedrooms, and pets. We meet the managers and the madams in a fascinating insider’s view that explores the difference between the real and the perceived in American culture and mores.

JOIN US this Friday (10/21) 7:00pm
at Oral Fix Aphrodisiac Cafe with MARC MCANDREWS and fetish star MIKA TAN (who worked on the Moonlite Bunny Ranch) for a book signing and a discussion on Nevada Rose and life inside NV brothels.
We’ll be serving aphrodisiac cocktails and the rum will be flowing thanks to Sailor Jerry’s!

Don’t miss this one because the fun doesn’t end there…

Head over to 1 Oak at 10pm for the after party with celebrity photographer Marc Baptiste! Open bar from 11pm to midnight.

About the Artist
(Courtesy of the Umbrage Gallery)
Marc McAndrews grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania, and received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts. He regularly takes off on long working road trips, concentrating on documenting American culture. It was through these travels that Marc began his book project, Nevada Rose which captures the personalities and places of Nevada’s legal brothels. His work has been seen in magazines such as Time, Stern, Inc., Exit, Fortune Small Business, and others. He was a recipient of the Magenta Arts Foundation’s 2006 “Flash Forward” award. Nevada Rose was nominated for the 2009 NY Photo Awards and was an official selection for the 2009 Lucie Awards. His series “JROTC” was an official selection for the 2009 Lucie Awards. McAndrews has lectured at The New School, Sarah Lawrence College, Cooper Union, and New York’s International Center for Photography. He lives in New York.

“McAndrews’s panoramas of the wide Nevada sky and sagebrush highlight the isolation of each brothel; his interiors, with the lush greens and maroons of an Edward Hopper painting, draw our attention, matter-of-factly, to the detritus of quotidian brothel life–the ubiquitous bottles of hand sanitizer and wet wipes, the timers, the panic buttons. And the women themselves are a revelation. Their bodies have been variously augmented and marked by tattoos and stretch marks, and they look into the camera, directly at the viewer, with self-possession, humor, and irony.”
– Publisher’s Weekly

“Nevada Rose is a book for those who like to experience underground America. It’s stricken with the same candor as old black and whites of migrant workers. This is documentation that defines its era. Always a heated topic for politicians, these places might not be around too much longer. It is obvious that this project was a labor of love for Marc and as a result we have a completely unique perspective of a world that previously lived in shrouded infamy. The photos tell a story that neither exalts nor demonizes the subject. All of that is for you to decide.”
–Working Class Magazine