LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Interview With Dennis Hof, Genevieve Wood
Aired June 27, 2003 - 20:29 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the times are changing down in New Zealand. By a one vote margin this week, the country's parliament voted to decriminalize prostitution. Both soliciting and brothels will be legal, and sex workers will be required to follow health workplace safety and safe sex regulations.
Aside from the obvious moral arguments, opponents predict the change will bring a flood of young Asian women to the country and that they won't care about safety regulations.
We're going to discuss this all with two guests this evening. Dennis Hof is the owner of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel in Nevada. He joins us from Sacramento, California tonight. And in Washington is Genevieve Wood of the Family Research Council. Welcome to both of you, glad to have both of you with us.
DENNIS HOF, OWNER, MOONLIGHT BUNNY RANCH: Hello, Paula.
GENEVIEVE WOOD, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Thanks, Paula.
HOF: The bunny girls love you.
ZAHN: Oh, they do.
HOF: They do.
ZAHN: Oh, I'm happy to hear that.
HOF: They watch the show every day.
ZAHN: Good. We welcome any viewers that want to watch this show.
Genevieve, I want to start off with you tonight.
ZAHN: I'm just curious, given this action in New Zealand, whether you think it will have any impact in any effort here in the United States to ultimately legalize prostitution.
WOOD: Well, Paula, I would have to say I hope not but the fact is any time any government gives a stamp of approval, in this case to something like prostitution, unfortunately other governments take notice and the problem is people will say on the other side well look we're always going to have prostitution. Why don't we try to at least make it as clean as we can? Why don't we try to legalize it?
The fact is why would any government, and certainly why would the government of the United States, legalize something that is demeaning to women, that hurts women? I mean that is appalling. The fact that we would do something that would actually maybe encourage more women to enter into this type of so-called business. I think it's terrible for the people of New Zealand and I certainly hope it stays there and that movement doesn't come here.
ZAHN: Dennis, I know you believe, or I've been told you believe this, that one way to prevent exploitation of women is to assert some kind of control. Counter Genevieve's argument...
DENNIS HOF, OWNER, MOONLIGHT BUNNY RANCH: If you don't legalize it, there's going to be exploitation by rogue policemen that rob and rape them, customers who beat them in hotel rooms, and pimps who are absolute predators.
If you don't legalize it you're going to have sexually transmitted diseases in the workplace. The Bunny Ranch has an 18-year history of hundreds of thousands of checks with no disease. So if you want to eliminate disease and crime and exploitation, legalize it.
ZAHN: But, Dennis, the truth is if you look in places where there is state-sponsored prostitution, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, you've not only seen an increase in legal prostitution but illegal prostitution as well.
HOF: Well I can't relate to that. But I know in Nevada there's -- in northern Nevada, where it's legal, there aren't any prostitutes. If you go into Las Vegas or Reno where prostitution is illegal, there's prostitutes everywhere.
So why put your head in the sand? Let's deal with it. The ranches bring a lot of money into the county. And a lot of safety checks. It's a...
WOOD: And that's unfortunate. I mean, that's part of the problem here. Look, your government comes in and legalizes the business, then guess what, they get to tax it. So now our government can actually make tax dollars from women being exploited.
And I take great issue when you say that somehow if we legalize it that women aren't being exploited, that women aren't still being hurt. That's not true. You can give it a fancy -- you can call it a business, you can call pimps business owners, but it doesn't change what is going on.
HOF: The Bunny Ranch girls there are because they want to be there, they're not forced to be there.
WOOD: No, these are women that unfortunately our society may be telling it's an OK thing to do by legalizing it. And what we ought to do is encourage young women who get into this business, telling them, you know what? You're better than that, you don't have to go into this, you can go into something that doesn't degrade your body and that hurts your future.
HOF: Your frame of reference is illegal prostitution, you're absolutely correct. You don't know the inside of legal brothels and what the girls are like. There's girls in there that are highly educated and making large incomes. One is the publisher of "Sherry" (ph) magazine right there in New York and comes there and works. It's an entirely different thing inside the Bunny Ranch where it's legal.
ZAHN: Dennis Hof, Genevieve Wood, we've got to leave it there. Thank you for both of your perspectives this evening.
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