giant aluminum alien guards the Alien Research
Center, a tourist attraction at the southern end of
Nevada's Highway 375, which the state has officially
branded the Extraterrestrial Highway.
VALLEY, Nev. ó When the Area 51 Alien Travel Center
calls itself a full-service business along Highway 95, not
far from the blasted landscape of the old Atomic Test
Site, it really means full service.
car ó almost by itself, as if under an otherworldy force
ó pulls off at the towering puke-green facade adorned
with smiling, waving cartoonish, bobble-headed aliens. You
can gas up for that final 90-minute push into Las Vegas,
dine at its í50s-themed diner with a Martian twist, make
a pilgrimage to the squeaky-clean restrooms (itís a long
way ítil the next exit, kids), buy alien jerky, picnic
under a faux-Indian ramada and, naturally, pick through a
galaxy of Area 51 doodads.
additional amenity, a shocking pink annex jutting out
behind the mini-mart: the Alien Cathouse.
of course, are perfectly legal in Nevada, and Nye County
features two owned by the notorious Dennis Hof, who is to
houses of ill repute in this state what Steve Wynn is to
gaudy mega-casinos: that is, a guy who has gotten filthy
rich off other peopleís vices and hedonistic desires.
There are 21 licensed brothels in the state, and Hof owns
OK, another brothel. Yawn. Old story. In fact, donít
they call this "oldest profession"?
thereís nothing ordinary about the Alien Cathouse, which
Hof decorated with the help of infamous Hollywood madam
Heidi Fleiss. It is purported to be the nationís only
"themed" brothel. Mario Cruz, manager of both
the travel center and the brothel, said many visitors,
truckers and tourists alike flit back-and-forth between
the buildings to indulge first their gastronomic, then
their libidinal, impulses. And, he tells me, Iím not the
first member of the mainstream media to delve into this
titillating roadside attraction. A BBC television crew
apparently beat me to it. Mustíve been sweeps month.
the interest of quality journalism, I needed independent
verification of the only-themed-brothel boast, so I
approached the bright red door (even alien
"escorts," apparently, fall back on the cliched
red motif), pressed the doorbell and was greeted by the
smiling visage of Savannah Sunshine, the madam. Earnest
and flirtatious, she was nothing less than a Hollywood
version of the prostitute with the heart of gold:
bottle-blond hair, a purple bustier that Madonna would
think demure, a frilly skirt, and big, round Ö eyes.
Dolly Parton would play her in the Lifetime movie version.
didnít even need to ask the question; she seemed to know
what I wanted. An interview, thatís all. Get your mind
out of the gutter.
we are the only themed brothel in the United States,"
though this was my first foray over the threshold of a
so-called "gentlemenís club" ó truly ó I
figured thereís got to be a Gold Rush-themed cathouse
somewhere in this big brown dusty state, or maybe a
tricked-out Mark Twain "Roughing It" brothel
somewhere near Carson City, right?
no," Madam S.S. insisted. "Hereís why:
Brothels are only legal in Nevada, and we are the only
themed brothel in Nevada, so therefore, we are the only
themed brothel in the U.S. Itís one thing we love to
say. Itís a big selling point. We have themed
did an exaggerated arm sweep, like a house-proud owner
showing off for a Sunset magazine scribe. I squinted, my
pupils expanding rapidly. It was really hard to see, the
room being so discreetly dark. The only illumination in
the parlor came from the glowing green alien head mounted
on the foyer table.
you like me to take you along on what we call a client
tour?" she asked.
it turns out, is not a euphemism. Itís a real tour, and
me digress briefly to assure you: This column will remain
SFFN ó Safe for a Family Newspaper.)
many businesses ringing Area 51 in the remote
south-central part of the state, the Alien Cathouse is not
above exploiting the (by all official accounts) fictional
belief in creatures from another planet.
customers expect nothing less from the stable of
"Cosmic Kittens," Madam S.S. said.
have a lot of sci-fi stuff thatís been donated to
us," she said, pointing to arresting heads, reptilian
and with bared teeth, flanking each entrance of the
hallway leading to the themed rooms. No cuddly green
bobblehead images, those.
two masks are from ĎAlien,í the movie," Madam
S.S. explained. "They are different masks, because
there are different kinds of aliens, you know. Of course,
look at our artwork on the walls. The paintings and
cutouts are all alien-themed."
aliens, it should be noted, were posed next to oil
paintings of scantily clad terrestrial beings of the
female persuasion, as if marrying Eros and ET. And when I
say nude artwork, Iím not talking about Cezanneís
"A Pastoral Idyll" or Duchampís "Nude
Descending a Staircase," either.
was then led into the "Galactic Negotiation
Room," where clients can browse the menu, as it were,
while the stern visage of William Shatner as James T. Kirk
ó a life-size cardboard cutout ó looks on, because,
Madam S.S. says, "he protects us."
prevents me from listing the services, but letís just
say that some of these Cosmic Kittens are amphibious and
most can do unusual things with pudding. Donít even ask
about the cringe-inducing "Alien Abduction and Probe
Room"; I gave it a wide berth. Madam S.S., by the
way, says the clientele isnít just male. Women pay
visits, too, as well as couples. "Lots of
couples," she said. "They like to spice things
moving on, and before I could stop blushing, Madam S.S.
I almost forgot, let me show you our costume closet,"
she said. "A lot of gentlemen request a lady in
costume. Some gentlemen like to be in costumes as well as
having our ladies dress up. So we offer costumes of all
sizes. My big male alien (costume) is in the back. But letís
see what weíve got. They can dress up like Poison Ivy
or, letís see, la-di-da, oh, hereís our Alien Elvis.
Whereís the wig? Iím not prepared, sorry."
popular costume request, not surprising, given that many
customers are baby boomers: Princess Leia from the
original "Star Wars," complete with white frock
and wig with the twin buns.
all just a form of entertainment, Madam S.S. says,
Amargosa Valleyís equivalent to catching a Siegfried
& Roy show.
surprised me was her admission that a not-insignificant
number of clients donít even "party with us"
(a discreet euphemism). Fact is, the Alien Cathouse boasts
the only bar for miles around, the only billiards table,
like to brag that we are a friendly brothel," Madam
S.S. said. "We invite people in to look around.
Dennis believes all his brothels should be friendly. If
you want to come in and just sit at the bar and have a
drink, or if you want to play free pool or use our free
Wi-Fi, come on in and do so. Just because you donít
party with us right now doesnít mean that you might not
tell someone who might party. We get referrals. And, who
knows, next time when youíre passing through Ö "
you know, stop by just to check your email, right?
by early 2015, thereíll be another reason to pull over
just down the road from the Alien Cathouse, in Crystal.
Hof is in the process of constructing a Brothel Museum,
detailing Nevadaís rich history in this business
venture, dating to before statehood.
bringing in all kinds of memorabilia from all the
brothels, not just in Nye County but the state of Nevada,
so thatíll give you a reason to come visit again,"
she said, winking.