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

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.