New brothel to open in Storey County

The newest brothel in northern Storey County's river district, Wild Horse Canyon Ranch and Spa, will open its doors in early June.

Owner/manager Susan Austin said she is temporarily converting her private residence, part of the development, into a small house with eight working rooms until the 44-room, multimillion-dollar complex is finished.

When finished, the main building will include 24-foot beamed ceilings, a full commercial kitchen and dining facilities, a sports bar, swimming pool, jacuzzis and saunas, according to Lance Gilman, Austin's partner in the project.

Gilman said opening the smaller facility now will help work the glitches out of the system.

Despite strong opposition from nearby businesses, Storey County officials have reviewed and approved plans for the main building.

A flurry of legal challenges from businesses located in and near the Tahoe Region Industrial Center followed the December 2001 license application filed in Storey County. Thus far, motions brought by the businesses in opposition to the county's approval have been denied.

Gilman said about $500,000 worth of infrastructure -- everything from power and sewer lines to road grading -- is finished and he's looking forward to the construction phase.

"The resort will be open 24 hours a day and we'll be hiring a large support staff. We want a chance to place our employees and get all of the systems operating before we turn the key on the main facility," he said. "We should be on line by the end of the year. The plans are finished and we're running hard."

For those wanting more privacy, the complex will include six bungalows, available for couples. Two of the bungalows will be completed in time for the June opening.

"Many married couples are interested in the bungalows, which we find very interesting," Austin said. "For some, the brothels create an environment where they feel comfortable, free to do some exploring and spend some intimate time."

A successful brothel can be an economic windfall for the county, generating between $200,000 and $250,000 in taxes annually, according to Storey County officials.

"When the big house is operating we will need a full support staff and many of those employees will be coming from Storey County," Austin said. "The business definitely brings in a good income for the county and we plan on supporting all local schools and charities. We'll do whatever we can to help."

Austin said most brothels in Nevada are dedicated solely to prostitution, but such is not the case here.

She said the girls, most from out-of-state, rotate through the facility in 7- to 10-day shifts. Modern-day prostitution is a far cry from historic practices, when brothels were run more like penal colonies, Austin said.

"Nevada is the only state strong enough to legalize the industry, making it both safe and clean," she said. "There are rigid health standards. I'm a strong advocate for legal prostitution and I'm even more passionate about eliminating illicit drugs. We need to get girls off the street and into the houses, where it's safe and private."

The daughter of a military officer, Austin spent most of her life in Europe where prostitution is legal. She moved to Reno in 1999. She is divorced and has four sons.

"I came to Reno looking for a new life and this is what I found," she said. "I became a working girl. You wouldn't want a school marm running a brothel. I had to know how this business works.

"You'd be amazed, at how many men don't know the touch of a woman," she said. "These women put aside their personal feelings and offer companionship to those who, for any number of reasons, would not otherwise get it."

Wild Horse Canyon Ranch and Spa is a little east of the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel, padlocked since the 1999 guilty verdicts against the brothel's parent companies and manager in a federal fraud and racketeering trial.

Gilman was granted his brothel license after a background check by Storey officials. Austin said her investigation should be completed soon.


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