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Brothel
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About the Author

Alexa Albert is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Medical School. She has written and lectured widely on issue of public health and prostitution and was named on of Mirabella's 1,000 Women for the Nineties for her work with Nevada's legal prostitutes. She currently lives in Seattle, where she is completing her residency.

Reviews

In Brothel, which reads, by turns, like a research study, a cultural history, and a biography, Albert (now in her medical residency) investigates the work and lives of the ladies of the (in)famous Mustang Ranch, which in its time (it was shut down in 1999) was one of Nevada's largest, best-known, and richest brothels. Her interest in the Mustang Ranch was prompted by a study she was conducting on how prostitutes protect themselves from the sexually transmitted diseases while on the job. But after her initial three-week study was completed, Albert continued to visit the working girls she befriended over the next four years, spending a total of seven months with them. Using personal stories and anecdotes from the women she meets at Mustang, Albert shows them to be more than merely ladies of the night; instead, they are women with real names, families, hopes, and fears, like the rest of us. Although Albert is clearly sympathetic to the plight of these women, she is careful to present a balanced account of what it means to be a prostitute in a legalized brothel. The tone is engaging, and some sections are a little raunchy. Written for a popular audience, this is highly recommended for sociology, women's studies, and cultural history collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Kim Clarke, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Perhaps the most prominent legal brothel in Nevada, Mustang Ranch held mythical status in contemporary Western culture until it was shut down on racketeering charges in 1999. As a medical student, Albert was granted rare access to this intensely private world in order to conduct a study on condom use, and lived periodically at Mustang Ranch from 1993 to 1999. Her routine study soon deepened in tandem with her curiosity about the politics of prostitution and about the prostitutes themselves. In this straightforward account, she details the brothel regimen (from the women's relative captivity to what happens during various "parties") and explores the private lives of the women who work there, as well as those of the "johns" and the workers who service the Ranch. Yet the heart of the book lies in Albert's exploration of the sense of family that thrives in the brothel with all the fractious infighting, competition and camaraderie inherent in any community. Her short history of the legalization of prostitution in Nevada revolves around Joe and Sally Conforte who officially owned Mustang Ranch until charges of tax evasion forced Joe into hiding in South America in 1990 while illuminating the confluence of public opinion and economic forces that spurred legalization. Acknowledging her own feelings (which range from disgust to profound respect), Albert convincingly dispels myths about this mysterious world and provides a strong defense for the legalization of prostitution. (May 15) Forecast: More current and sociological than last year's The Last Madam (which was set in New Orleans), this engrossing, plainly told account should attract considerable attention as Albert travels the country on her seven-city tour. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"In her compassionate, engaging first book, Albert answers all the questions you might ever have about prostitutes, providing a rich and nuanced depiction of a largely hidden world." - Amazon.com

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