'Conversation with no obligation': What it takes to run a legal brothel

'Conversation with no obligation': What it takes to run a legal brothel


The words ‘legal’ and ‘brothel’ don’t often go together in a sentence in this part of the world, but the terms aren’t actually mutually exclusive.

Real-life Madam Bella Cummins has shared some secrets of her business, called Bella’s Hacienda Ranch in Nevada, on Metro.co.uk’s Smutdrop podcast.

She tells host Miranda Kane: ‘My entire career has been about becoming a good Madam – becoming a woman that sees the empowerment that should be in, what I call, the sensual services industry.’

For the record, this kind of ‘sensual service’ is legal in 10 of the 16 counties in Nevada, US.

Here’s what Bella had to say about how brothels like hers really work…

‘Courtesans are classy ladies’

First off, it’s important to take what you might think you know about sex workers out of your mind.

‘People have great imaginations about what they think happens in a brothel,’ says Bella. ‘You might think it’s just wild orgies and people are running around naked. But courtesans are classy ladies.

‘They’re women with educations, and they want to do this for a brief period of time in their lives.

‘So in that empowerment, how do I help them understand what to do with the money so that in this very short career, they can actually move on to something else, retool, and maybe find a way to help other women?’

They have to think about advertising

Just like any other business, there’s a bit of ad spending that needs doing.

In Bella’s case, The Ranch does radio advertising.

When asked what their slogan is, Bella replies: ‘Well, we’re the sugar shack.

‘We offer friendly conversation with no obligation.’

It’s not just about sex

Further to that, Bella says there’s less sex going on in a brothel than one might think – especially since the pandemic.

‘There’s more laughter’, she says, ‘there’s more conversation.

‘Yes, there’s sex, but there’s less than people think because as we realised, people aren’t really meant to be kept apart.’

Working hours can vary

Typically, Bella says the day starts at about 11am until 11pm-1am, but there are ‘late risers’ too.

‘Through their day, [everybody works] to be ready by a certain time so that they’re prepared any time that doorbell rings.’

Empathy is key

Bella says the biggest lesson she’s learned in this job is how to be ‘non-judgmental and love unconditionally’.

‘In all my years as a madam… I learned how fragile we are, and how easily tarnished, or in a way, broken we are.’

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