Dennis Hof: Freedom fighter, capitalist hero, anti-sex trafficking crusader

In an interview with KC Ifeany for Fast Company, “the world’s leading progressive business media brand,” Dennis Hof complains that he’s misrepresented. The owner of The Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada is not only a respectable businessman (“the greatest salesman in the world!”), but an anti-sex trafficking crusader who really only wants free choice for women. One of the most well-known pimps in the world is really on our side, ladies.

Like Hugh Hefner, who once claimed, “I was a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism,” Hof imagines himself to be the OG freedom fighter. And people seem to buy it. “How do you get people to pay attention to important issues like fighting sex trafficking?” the interviewer asks, as though a man who’s made his life on the backs of women is the guy to ask about how to stop the exploitation of women… Hof responds:

“It’s real difficult. I took Krissy on a show on MSNBC and this woman lawyer just didn’t get it. I said, stop painting all prostitution with the same brush. Don’t put me in the same position as a pimp working the streets, giving these girls drugs and exploiting underage girls. I have a license to do this—let’s not question the morality of the state of Nevada. Our state works pretty good, especially in regards to the sex trade. I just couldn’t get that across to her.

She was so hellbent on me being the bad guy and that this should go away—it’s not going away. You want to take away a six-figure choice of employment that’s legal because you don’t like it? You don’t want to leave it to the women of America to decide if it’s for them? We saw liquor didn’t work with prohibition. You take all the criminality out of the marijuana business, it looks like a pretty good business. So why not do the same thing with sex?”

These women. They just don’t get it. He’s not like those other pimps — he just wants “the women of American to decide.” Which is a funny thing to say when purporting to be opposed to sex trafficking, because the vast majority of prostituted women in America are actually trafficked women. I wonder why Hof thinks that “the women of America” are not, in fact, choosing prostitution and why, instead, women and girls have to be forced into it, against their will? His use of the oft-cited marijuana analogy also left me with a lot of questions — I wonder how marijuana feels about being bought and sold? Did anyone ask marijuana? Why not just let marijuana choose for itself? Solidarity, marijuana.

I digress.

America’s self-appointed best friend, Dennis Hof is frustrated. “America just doesn’t get it,” he says. “They’re enabling this to happen and they don’t want to look at it and be real and say, we need to use Dennis’ model for legalization. So they’ll leave it in the hands of the criminals.”

But the only thing that “Dennis’ model for legalization” would do would be to make criminals into legit businessmen. What’s missing from this perfect model is an explanation for how, precisely, legalizing men’s right to profit off of the exploitation of women helps women.

“Some day,” Hof says, “they need to wake up and say we need to tax it, license it, control it, regulate the quality of the product.”

“The product,” of course, being human women. “It,” being human women. Not whiskey, not weed. Women.

It’s understandable that a business magazine would promote capitalism and, therefore, the commodification of everything, including human beings, but it is not understandable why the liberal public — feminists even — are not only buying this model, but promoting it as liberatory for women. How do we move from “these women are simply things — products to be bought and sold” — to “this is about women’s bodily autonomy and their sexual liberation?”

Hof buys it. But he buys it because America buys it. Liberals buy it. Even some feminists buy it.

“I’ve changed sexual attitudes,” he tells Ifeany. “It’s Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, Hefner, and me. We’ve all changed sexual attitudes in America. I just say relax it’s just sex—let’s not make a big deal out of this.”

Is it really “just sex?” If it were “just sex” would you have to coerce women into doing it? If being treated like an eight ball or a bottle of vodka was making women and girls feel liberated don’t you think that they’d be signing up to do it in droves? Is today’s modern woman feeling empowered and respected as an equal while being called “it” over and over again?

Ifeany asks, “What people may forget is that before the Moonlite BunnyRanch, you were successful businessman in the less salacious fields of gas stations and real estate. What did you learn then that applies now?”

Hof responds, “First of all, believe in the product and then go out and sell it.”

I can hardly contain my feelings of sexual empowerment! I’m just so turned on.

Hof is a big fan of the feminist consent model too. “Don’t ever do anything you don’t want to,” he says, in the next breath adding, “Just be nice to the guy. If you’re ever mean to my client then you’re out of here.” No word on what happens if a “client” isn’t polite to a “girl.” But I’m sure that never comes up. Johns are generally known to be very respectful dudes.

This, Hof knows, is what makes women happy — being nice to gross men because they need the money, even when those men dehumanize them:

“Those factors are what makes for a happy working girl. Because they have a choice, then they want to be involved in the team. I watch the quality—as far as looks, body, and age—go up every year.”

By all accounts, including his own, Hof is sociopathic. His recently-published memoir, “The Art of the Pimp,” includes testimonies from women who worked in his brothel. In a review at The New York Post, Larry Getlen writes, of Krissy Summers (mentioned above) and Cami Parker:

“Summers was a college freshman when she first connected with Hof online, and they stayed in touch. After college, with $45,000 in student-loan debt, she contacted him about working at the Ranch. They met for the first time in a hotel room.”

She writes:

“I walked in and he said, ‘Hi, I’m Dennis Hof,’ ” she writes. “And I remember thinking, ‘I know who you are.’ And then he said, ‘Take off your pants.’ That was it. ‘Take off your pants.’ I was absolutely terrified. Dennis was only the second man I’d ever been with.”

Getlen writes, “Parker’s 16-page account in particular, in which she calls him a ‘soulless pimp,’ reads like a horror show.”

“Happy working girl,” huh.

Women on the “ranch” are all essentially required to have sex with Hof and also to refer to him as “daddy.”

“You want Daddy to like you,” Parker was told. “You won’t have a very good time if he doesn’t, so if he wants you to [have sex with him], you definitely should.”

In other words, “you’ll be treated badly and punished if you don’t let him have sex with you.” Hof’s version of “freedom” sounds pretty rapey to me.

Hof, writes Getlen, tried to “fix” Parker, “changing the way she did her makeup so she’d resemble one of his exes.” He was constantly telling her to lose weight, which led to Parker developing a very serious eating disorder that almost killed her. “Everyone knows Dennis likes skinny, little-girl bodies,” she said. At 23, Hof discarded Parker, telling her she was too old for him. He only liked women who were under 21.

It doesn’t take a psychotherapist to see that Hof is sociopathic and psychologically, sexually, and emotionally abusive, but just in case anyone needs further convincing, psychotherapist Dr. Sheenah Hankin contributes an assessment in the book, calling him “a narcissist” with “no empathy.”

“Like any pimp,” Hankin says, “he exploits them.” She goes on to say, “This is sadistic behavior, and it is both unrecognized and denied.”

All of these behaviours, values, and qualities not only make for a good pimp, but a good capitalist. The two, of course, go hand in hand. What should not go hand in hand with Hof’s attitude and worldview, is feminism. Yet “Dennis’ model for legalization” is precisely what many are advocating for, on the same basis Hof is. And I suppose that if this is the “liberation” they want, so be it. But don’t fool yourselves into thinking “the product” will be happy.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Miep

    Daddy’s product, wow, what a career goal.

    • Meghan Murphy

      That would make any girl happy, I’m sure.

  • rick

    The liberation this pig espouses is sociopathic manipulation, a con job that manufactures a false consciousness. Convince people that exploitation is good for society, and that every one benefits. Of course, the only one who benefits is the exploiter, but that reality is obscured by the myth.

  • “Hof says, “they need to wake up and […] regulate the quality of the product.””

    Um, yeah, I can see where that’s going. Any product that is used on the human body is subject to stringent health regulations and this is why so many medical products – needles, gloves and so on – are disposable. So Hof’s “quality product”, we can only presume, would not be pre-used and would be disposable once used, because, you know *freshness* and also *hygene*. Luckily for Hof there is a massive surplus of marginalized and impoverished human females to keep supplies up.

    Hof’s hyperbole about freedom and his fight for women is the most classic of all reversals. Joining the ranks with he and Hefner (as you have cited) is Paul Little (Max Hardcore). When he was interviewed on CBC he described his production house as a sort of utopia of courageous free expression that stood in the face of the oppressive hoards, with the support of a whole raft of highly-educated powerful and progressive minded women: “…We got PhDs there” (!!!).

    Someone should cut together a meme of these sleezebags with their Orwellian rhetoric. Clump them into a bouquet and the rot will be undeniable.

  • purple sage

    I couldn’t even get through this. Your writing is great Meghan but I would have vomited if I had read any more of this turd’s words.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The whole interview was just unbearable. And the interviewer seemed to just think he was the best! wtf is wrong with people??

      • Missfit

        I unfortunately clicked on the link to the article, wondering what was Fast Company… And then I read this, for more vomit inducing from the interview (sorry!):

        ‘I’d like to expand internationally. I’d like to see me as the figurehead of the company and let Madame Suzette take care of more of the day-to-day operations and let me be the Colonel Sanders going around to all the stores making sure the chicken is right.’

        For what would chicken be a metaphor here? Any businessman talking about workers this way would rightly provoke ire. But not when the product is women (because ‘looks, body and age’ are not qualities ascribed to sex; the product is not sex, it is women’s bodies, the two words becoming interchangeable under patriarchal thinking). Then it’s just funny. Haha. And the interview finishes on these words, followed by the smiley face of KC Ifeany ‘everthing’s cool here’. The whole interview is presented as an inspiring success story. The whole article talks about women being marketed and sold as consumable goods to be used by men without any sense of even an eybrow raised. Yeah – wtf is wrong with people??

  • This term: the sex trade.

    Really? They’re talking about buying free-floating orifices?

    It’s the women trade.

    (And, yes, I’m aware of gay and transgender prostitution. It’s barely a pimple on this 800 lb gorilla. They can get used to being included with the vast majority. Stop erasing women.)

  • A Woman of America

    Come on, this is a job like any other. When I interviewed for my job, my boss said “Take your pants off,” as soon as I walked in. I have sex with him every now and then so that he continues to like me. As I gain more experience,of course I’m worth less!

    • Ha!

    • “Sex work” is so like any kind of work. You don’t get any form of workplace protection, just like any other job! Think how many office workers get AIDS from their workplace every year… Sad but what can we do? It’s work!

      • Concerned

        Wait, if you want women in the sex trade to have workplace protections… wouldn’t that mean legalizing and regulating the industry?

        There will always be poor women willing to sell their services. It’s the world’s oldest profession for a reason. Are we ever going to get rid of poverty itself? Sexual capital is a valid form of capital. Why can’t a woman profit from hers? Or a man, for that matter? Attractive people get all kinds of subtle benefits, anyway, what’s wrong with an explicit benefit?

        Hundreds of years of trying to outlaw prostitution just drives it underground and into criminality, much like prohibition.

        Hof may be an odious person, but he’s not wrong about legalizing prostitution.

        • Let’s all laugh at the ‘concerned’ troll who thinks women’s bodies are objects built for male violence and who use tremendously ridiculous metaphors to support woman abuse.

          Attractive people?

          The only people I know who say ‘attractive people’ are men who are obsessed with a conventional objectified image of women that doesn’t include anything about them as in their interests or hobbies. Nope.

          I’m guessing a pornsick male.

        • We don’t want prostitution to exist. That’s it.

        • nightcap

          Funny how men sit there all smug about the “oldest profession” and fail to acknowledge that the “reason” prostitution has such ancient origins is because men’s enslavement of women (from which prostitution most likely derives) predates written history. And further that prostitution only exists in societies where there is significant gender and class inequality (and often a hefty dose of racism/xenophobia) — and thus it could not possibly be the world’s oldest profession.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Indeed. They are pointing out the obvious — patriarchy has been around for some time now (in particular cultures) and they’d like to keep it around.

          • Fueri Da’qui

            Ohhh; I thought the ‘oldest profession’ was temple pimp who liked abusing children(both female and male) by forcing them into mandatory temple prostitution.

            Remember that song…’It’s a hard life being a pimp’?

            Yup. You know you live in the Mad Hatter’s world when…
            1) The rich get welfare and freebie all you can eat taco bell buffets(while the homeless get booted out everywhere);
            2) The poor get tax increases, wage reductions, and the ‘right to work’ but not to afford groceries.
            3) Female slavery and exploitation is considered feminist… and SO damn flippin’ empowering.
            Yes, and of course..

            4)Where sex dolls have their own online accounts…wardrobes, jewelry, pets and bank accounts too.

            Yet, here we are in 2015, and Rapey T-shirts (that males and some naive females deride us over with comments like; ‘no big deal’ or, ‘its ‘just a joke shirt no one will wear’); are actually being worn about by smiling sacks of wasted space.

            …and Pustule Chubs is actually selling women as comparable goods to “Liquor” and “Marijuana Products”and calling himself a freedom fighter for women’s right to enslavement?? Blaarf.

  • I wouldn’t mind living in an Amazonian community after reading this

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