Sex and Stigma

Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels

320 pages

16 halftones

January, 2019

ISBN: 9781479820702



Add to Cart Available: 12/21/2018

Also available in


Sarah Jane Blithe is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. 

All books by Sarah Jane Blithe

Anna Wiederhold Wolfe is Assistant Professor of Organizational Communication at Texas A&M University. 

All books by Anna Wiederhold Wolfe

Breanna Mohr is an M.A. student at the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to her education and research, Ms. Mohr works full time in a legal brothel.

All books by Breanna Mohr

An intimate and original look at the lives of Nevada’s legal sex workers through the voices of current and former employees, brothel owners, madams, and local law enforcement  
The state of Nevada is the only jurisdiction in the United States where prostitution is legal. Wrapped in moral judgments about sexual conduct and shrouded in titillating intrigue, stories about Nevada’s legal brothels regularly steal headlines. The stigma and secrecy pervading sex work contribute to experiences of oppression and unfair labor practices for many legal prostitutes in Nevada.  Sex and Stigma engages with stories of women living and working in these “hidden” organizations to interrogate issues related to labor rights, secrecy, privacy, and discrimination in the current legal brothel system.           
Including interviews with current and former legal sex workers, brothel owners, madams, local police, and others, Sex and Stigma examines how widespread beliefs about the immorality of selling sexual services have influenced the history and laws of legal brothel prostitution. With unique access to a difficult-to-reach population, the authors privilege the voices of brothel workers throughout the book as they reflect on their struggles to engage in their communities, conduct business, maintain personal relationships, and transition out of the industry. Further, the authors examine how these brothels operate like other kinds of legal entities, and how individuals contend with balancing work and non-work commitments, navigate work place cultures, and handle managerial relationships. Sex and Stigma serves as a resource on the policies guiding legal prostitution in Nevada and provides an intimate look at the lived experiences of women performing sex work.


  • Sex and Stigma is an engaging and informative book, blending first-person perspectives with feminist scholarship to demystify the brothel as a workplace. A smart and innovative study, readers will benefit from the authors’ blend of scholarly expertise, their unique access to a difficult-to-reach population, and the inclusion of multiple sex workers’ perspectives.”

    —Shira Tarrant, author of The Pornography Industry: What Everyone Needs to Know

  • Sex and Stigma lays the groundwork for greater understanding of the everyday routines and work-life considerations of legal sex workers. This book is both significant and distinctive for the authors’ ability to take a phenomenon that typically is considered hidden and stigmatized and attach real faces, lives, workplace, and home issues to these women. Insightful and illuminating.”

    —Patrice M. Buzzanell, editor of Rethinking Organizational and Managerial Communication from Feminist Perspectives