(Rebecca Nelson | GQ) – Meet Dennis Hof, the brothel owner who was inspired by Trump to run for Nevada’s state legislature. And he stands a good shot of winning, too.
There’s an old hotel across the street from the Nevada state legislature, in Carson City. Before it closed, the ten-story building—and, naturally, adjoining casino—was the heart of the small capital, a place for politicians to have a drink and maybe play slots. The complex has a lot of potential for prospective developers: nearly 200,000 square feet, a central location, ample convention space. More importantly, there are 110 rooms, which would mean a lot of business for Dennis Hof.
Hof, the boisterous owner of five brothels in rural Nevada, likes to say that he wants to convert the vacant hotel into his sixth property. That way, he says, there would be an actual whorehouse “right across the street from the political whores.” The irony!
In all likelihood, Hof, who’s 71, will soon be right at home: He’s running for the state legislature in Nevada’s 36th District, and odds are he’s going to win. He handily beat the Republican incumbent in last month’s primary, and Democrats don’t fare well in his part of the state. His campaign centers on lowering taxes, because according to Hof—who alternately refers to himself as the world’s greatest pimp and the “P.T. Barnum of Booty”—taxes are the real sin in this world.
Trump’s stunning performance in 2016, Hof says, imbued him with the courage to run, and he considers himself a disciple of the president’s in both substance and style. HBO featured Hof in its reality series Cathouse, which documented the lives of the sex workers at one of his brothels. He cribbed the name of his memoir, The Art of the Pimp, from Trump’s best-seller. And, like the president, he’s also been accused of sexual assault by multiple women. (He vehemently denies all charges.) If Trump could win, why can’t he?
GQ: Are you the new face of the Republican Party?
Dennis Hof: I think so. I think I’m part of the Trump movement. Roger Stone said it best when he came out to support me, when he came to Pahrump, Nevada. Roger said, “Dennis Hof is the Trump of Pahrump. He’s a reality TV star, he produced a series on Cinemax, he wrote a best-selling book, he’s got a lot of money, he’s got a lot of notoriety and celebrity, he likes hot girls.”
When Trump came out with that “grab the girl by the punani,” they said, “The women won’t support Trump. The Christians won’t support Trump.” But guess what? When they got [in] the ballot booth, they pushed the button. Just like the Christians did out here. They said, “The Christians won’t support him.” Well, Reuters did an article about the Christians that supported me. What they hate more than Donald Trump saying grab ’em by the pussy, or me owning brothels, is lying, hypocrite, pay-for-play politicians that raise their taxes for the benefit of big corporations.
So raising taxes is worse than being a pimp or grabbing a woman by the pussy, is what you’re saying?
I think so. I mean, look at the success we’ve had with Trump. I could not have been successful without Trump leading the way, okay? He paved the road.
What’s the best lesson you have learned from Trump?
“Be yourself.” People are sick of politicians. They’re sick of these guys that go into office broke and leave multimillionaires. They’re seeing through that. Be yourself and say it exactly like it is. I found that was the success of my TV show. I didn’t sugarcoat anything. Yeah, we’re selling sex. We’re doing it in a safe way that protects the public and the girls. We don’t allow drugs. We check for STDs. We’re tax-paying citizens. I put it out there and the people were like, “Wait a minute, this ain’t so bad.” It’s a lot better than having these pimps picking up girls and dropping them on street corners in front of my house. It’s done properly.
You called the Nevada state legislature the biggest whorehouse. If you win, does that make you a whore?
No, because I’m not going to be one of them. I’m not going to be that pay-for-play guy. But yes, there are more political whores in the legislature than anywhere. And they know it! That’s what the establishment hates about me. I know who comes to my place and what the special-interest guys paid to get them laid. I’m the guy that could out everybody.
In 2016, you started Hookers for Hillary. Now, you’re a conservative Republican. What happened?
Well, the girls did this. I’ve got 500 girls, and I’ve got 135 employees. One group of girls started Hookers for Hillary. What they don’t talk about is the other organization, which was even more powerful and more boisterous, [which] was Tarts for Trump. That was all done by the girls. Partially because it’s fun. Partially because it made the news and it was a marketing ploy for them. They’re on Fox News. They’re on NBC. It brings attention to our business, which brings clients to them. It was because I want them to get involved in politics. We also threw it out to the media, and it was a good story.
Is your campaign all a PR stunt for your business?
No, not at all. It’s a new chapter in my life. It could be the final chapter. I’ll be 72 this year. The owner of the Lakers and I have a joint birthday party every year, for 20 years. In fact, you should come out for it, because it’s a lot of celebrities. It will be October 13th.
I’m going to be 72. It’s time to give back. I’ve got a lot of philanthropical things that I’m going to do. That’s really the only reason I’m doing this. I don’t need to promote my business. It’s world-famous. I did a good job of that over the last 27 years.
What is the crazier profession, prostitution or politics?
Politics! You know, there are good politicians and there are good hookers, but if you had to compare the bad hooker with the bad politician, the politicians are a whole lot worse. They’re just slimy scumbags trying to take money from special-interest groups. “You put money in my pocket, and I vote the way you want me to.” That’s what a prostitute does! Put money in her purse, she does what you ask her to do. We damn sure got a whole lot of political horrors in the legislature in Carson City. You know they call me a pimp. Who better to run those political horrors than me, if I am one?
In your memoir, you include an account from an ex-girlfriend, Cami Parker, who says she was pressured to have sex with you when she first started at your brothel. But you have denied sexually assaulting two former employees who say you regularly raped them. Have you forced employees to have sex with you at your brothels?
Never, never, never. I don’t get involved in the hiring just for that reason, so people can’t say there’s a casting couch. I have a staff of HR people. And if it was so bad for Cami, why was she there three years? You can also go back and find a zillion wonderful things she said about me. When you have celebrity, you have people taking shots at you. We’re going to work on bringing in the top defamation lawyers in America to start picking these people off, one at a time. Let’s see what they say when they’re under oath, because it’s all going to be just garbage.
Why include that in your book if it wasn’t true?
I told her and everybody that wrote something that I would put whatever they wrote in there unedited. Not only did I allow it to be there, I didn’t even read it before they put it in. If I [was] like that, I wouldn’t be in the brothel business for 27 years. I wouldn’t be the guy that spoke at Oxford University, or Trinity College in Dublin, at the Sorbonne in Paris. I wouldn’t have done all these things if that was really me. It’s a bunch of—it’s absurd, some of the things these people have said. If I wasn’t a good man, Grover Norquist would have not came out here [to support me]. Roger Stone would have not came out here.
What’s the first thing that you will do in office?
The issues! That’s what I’m interested in. The issues are, for me, the commerce tax. What are we going to do to repeal this tax that did so much harm to Nevada? It’s 1.4 billion dollars a year. In my district, there’s a lot of fixed-income people that can’t afford any increase in taxes. The next thing is water. The state is trying to take water away from the people. It’s a big fight right now between the developers and the well owners. I’ve got to get that fixed up.
I’ve got to push hard for Second Amendment issues. One being campus carrying. I want to remove the stigma of the medical-marijuana card-holders, like military guys that are trying to get off of opioids, when they get a medical-marijuana card. If you get a medical-marijuana card, they’ll take away your concealed-weapons permit. You can’t buy a gun. So, you’re a vet that’s hurt in the war, you can take an opioid for 25 years, you can get off of them with marijuana, you do it legally, you get a medical-marijuana card, and now they’re going to take your weapons away from you. That’s bull, and I don’t like it.
What is the best thing about being a pimp?
The last thing I am is a pimp. I’m a businessman that works as a partner with these girls.
But you named your memoir The Art of the Pimp. I’m using your language.
It’s tongue-in-cheek. The best part about being in the sex business is the notoriety that’s gone with it. The fame, the infamy, having a television show. Being around girls that are sexually open-minded, and the fun that goes with that. I’m 71 years old, [but] if you look at me, you’re going to think I’m 50 or 55. And the way I act is even less than that, because I’m around younger people, and I’ve listened to their music, listened to their thoughts. That’s really the best part of it—along with the income.
How did you get into this business?
I slept with the right girl. Everything good in a man’s life revolves around sex, and the girls we’ve been with. I moved to Reno in ’76, and I was with a girl. She didn’t like it in Reno and wanted to go back home to Arizona. I met [another] girl, started dating her. She [said she] was a buyer for Macy’s, and she was gone three weeks out of the month. After about six months, she told me the truth: “I’m a working girl at the Moonlight Ranch, and I want you to come out and see it.”
So I went out to see the place, and that was the luckiest night of my life. I met a guy named Bob Zmuda. Bob Zmuda was Andy Kaufman’s writer. I met Andy Kaufman, we all became friends, and we had fun there. In about ’78 Kaufman said, “Dennis, you’re a small-business man, you own garages, towing companies, gas stations. I want you to buy this place and change the mentality from ‘get in, get up, get off, get the hell out of here.’ Sell the adventure.” It’s about the adventure, more than the sex, and that’s what’s made my places world-famous, and such a success.
Andy Kaufman convinced you to get started in the brothel business?
Him and Bob Zmuda together. And they were right. I revolutionized the business. The first thing I said to the girls [was that] there is no minimum price any longer. It’s whatever you work out with the client. I think it’s degrading to tell somebody what they have to have sex with a man for. Then: Don’t ever party with anybody that you don’t want to. “You mean I don’t have to party with some guy if I think he’s disgusting?” No, just tell him he’s more suited for somebody else. Don’t ever do anything in the room that you don’t want to do. It may be that you want to do it, you just don’t want to do it with that gentleman. Be honest with them. I want a good experience, a willing buyer, a willing seller, a repeat client. The most important thing about all of this is the clients come back to see you. That’s what I want.
That model has worked very well, not just sex but adventure. It’s on everybody’s bucket list. My TV show put it on everybody’s bucket list, all over North America, Europe, everywhere. My show’s even playing where Borat is from, like Ka-ZA-ka-stan or whatever it is.
That’s all of my questions. Is there anything else that you want to add?
No. But if you have more—and you will have more, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night tonight and start thinking about me—you just call me back.