‘More like therapists’: Adult virgins turn to Nevada brothels for sex – and healing

At Bella’s Hacienda Ranch, a brothel on the outskirts of the rural truck stop town of Wells, Nevada, a special offer for adult male virgins for half price in May went off with a bang.

What may seem like a publicity stunt is accompanied by compassion. May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US and the brothel is 74 years old eponymous owner and operator, Ms Bella Cummins, wants to raise awareness of what she describes as a ‘virginity epidemic’. She blames digital platforms for displacing young people’s personal ‘IRL’ experiences, leading to stunted social development. Brothels, she argues, provide a safe space to process the resulting feelings of fear, shame and isolation.

Most of the courtesan’s clients, to use the jargon, live in the region, but increasingly men travel from all over the country and the world, looking for ‘help’ with her business, as they often put it. To receive the discount, men must provide a letter from a mental health professional recognizing their claim, which Cummins hopes will encourage some adult virgins to seek therapy when they otherwise wouldn’t.

So far, the promotion has proven to be a hit. In a normal week, at least three adult Virgins walk through the door, but Cummins says bookings from Virgin customers have increased tenfold this month.

It is clear that these services meet a growing demand. The Virginal special also highlights the underappreciated role sex workers play in helping meet both emotional and physical needs. Employees at Bella’s Hacienda and other Nevada brothels say many clients are looking for a judgment-free zone that offers sexual healing as a professional service.

Cummins notes that sensual touch releases hormones in the brain that allow us to feel “fully functional” as humans. When these chemicals remain suppressed, the lady notes, people go to “very dark places,” such as internalizing feelings of severe inadequacy and anxiety, or turning to unhealthy sexual behaviors.

“The only reason we’re in these bodies is for the touch, and so we can have sexual encounters, even if it’s just a one-night stand,” Cummins says.

“I would really like to raise awareness about this topic,” she adds. “There is a safe, sane way to resolve the situation.

Increasing anxiety and social isolation

There is evidence that virginity and sexual inexperience among adults are increasing in the U.S., Canada and other Western countries, said Marie-Aude Boislard, director of the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Sexology. About 15% of individuals born in the 1990s are virgins in their early twenties, the highest rate of sexual inactivity since 1985. Many report “difficult emotions” and interpersonal struggles due to social stigma, the lack of visibility of sexual inexperience in adulthood and a lack of intimacy.

Cummins has worked in the sex industry for 38 years and is now the longest-serving madam in Nevada’s legal brothel industry. She has seen how her virginal clientele reflected changing societal moods and norms.

A customer sits with an employee at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound House, Nevada. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

She recalls how it was common in the 1980s for long-haul truck drivers to introduce their adult virgin sons to brothel services. Dad took the young man out the summer after he graduated high school, guided him through the potentially tricky process of choosing a woman in a line, and then enjoyed a drink at the bar while his son got one. first sexual experience under his belt.

From the 1990s onwards, it was increasingly mothers who brought their inexperienced offspring to the ‘cat house’, not only to make the young man lose his virginity, but so that he would gain self-confidence in dealing with a woman, receive guidance in satisfying a woman. woman and learn about the sensual side of sexual intimacy.

These days, Cummins says, virgins often show up alone. Some act shy about it, but most openly share their status, if only to apologize for their perceived unhappiness.

“When we’ve never done anything before, the fear that comes with doing it wrong—being incompetent or inadequate—takes over us,” she mused. “They say, ‘Look, I really want to learn what I need to do here.’ Others say, “I feel sad about something my hormones are pulling me toward.” or “What do I need to do to get over these feelings of inadequacy?”

Bella’s Hacienda Ranch is located in northeastern Nevada, about an hour’s drive from Idaho and Utah, two states with highly religious populations that Cummins describes as the most sexually repressed states in the country.

“They’re told, ‘You can keep this in.’ Don’t feel that,” she says, referring to the abstinence culture in faith-based communities. “But how do you deny what God put in a young body – what is that desire?”

However, the issue goes beyond their proximity to Mormon country. The adult virgins who frequent brothels in Nevada also lament their on-screen social lives, as well as the permanent shift to online learning or remote work.

A virgin Bella’s Hacienda Ranch customer in his early 20s, a jiu-jitsu fighter from Salt Lake City, said social anxiety affects both men and women in his community.

“What I’ve noticed lately when I go to bars is that women are so used to dating apps and social media that they get nervous when I approach a woman in person,” says the client, who asked to keep his name withheld for privacy reasons hold. “No one knows how to treat each other anymore.”

‘The intimacy they miss’

For some people, brothels are a place to release old problems in a supportive environment.

A 22-year-old tall, athletic cowboy from Utah who asked to use the pseudonym Barry, went to Bella’s Hacienda Ranch to lose his virginity after ending a long-term relationship.

He grew up in a religious family, but had only remained celibate out of respect for his longtime girlfriend’s abstinence beliefs. But recently, Barry learned that she was sleeping with other people, and they broke up.

“I felt a little betrayed and like I had waited for no reason,” he said. “So I decided to just, you know, get laid.”

Losing his virginity in a brothel appealed to Barry because he didn’t want to get emotionally involved with anyone, but still had a “very high” sex drive. Something transactional with a capable partner and no expectations or agreements about future contact seemed perfect.

Barry hired a blonde, blue-eyed courtesan named Lila. “I just want vanilla sex,” he told her. “No BDSM, nothing kinky.”

Reflecting on the experience, Barry said: ‘I would honestly recommend it more than just going to a bar and hooking up with a stranger. I probably haven’t tried to hook up with a random girl around me for fear of being judged. It was good to be in a place where I could express myself and learn things privately.”

Sex workers often help with emotional and physical needs. “We’re more like therapists,” says one woman. Photo: Stephan Gladieu/Getty Images

Often, mature Virgos prefer to make arrangements with the older courtesans of Bella’s Hacienda, trusting that the maturity, wisdom and compassion that comes with age will put them in good hands.

The story is much the same on the other side of the state, in a brothel closer to Sin City than to Mormon country. Cameron Sloane, a 43-year-old courtesan at Sheri’s Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, identifies as “Your Favorite MILF” on X. She gets a lot of requests from virgin men in their early twenties. They’re more intimidated by women their own age, but the “hot mom” fantasy is also part of the dynamic, Sloane says.

The most important skill she brings to these appointments is patience. She cited video games and gaming culture as another platform through which young men build relationships online without face-to-face interaction, making them uncomfortable making eye contact or communicating what they want during a sexual encounter.

Recently, a young man wore sunglasses in the brothel to avoid eye contact. Sometimes a virgin client will tremble when Sloane takes his hand to lead him to her room, or look down when she places his hand on her thigh while they negotiate her price.

Sloane always gauges the client’s goals and interests, which can range from a quick bite to get the job done and say ‘it’s done’, to a full learning session with guidance and feedback. Anyway, she starts by letting them touch her and helping them feel comfortable being touched.

In a brothel in Sparks, Nevada. Sex work is legal in the state, and many clients travel there from other parts of the US and the world. Photo: Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Many virgins find it difficult to stay present in their bodies, especially those addicted to pornography, says Sloane. Distorted thoughts about what they think sex should be like make them feel insecure or distracted. Sloane recalls a client who came to terms with his porn addiction during their session after failing to climax through her sensual approach. He recognized that he had a problem and started seeking help.

“We’re more like therapists than anything, and not just virgins,” she says. “People come in who have recently lost their wives and just need someone to talk to, hug or be close to. It’s more about company. I think that’s the most rewarding part of it: when you give someone the intimacy that they’re missing.”

Barry, the Salt Lake City cowboy, believes brothels can be a good place to get over sexual jitters, with mental health benefits as well.

“If you want to learn to play golf, you don’t just come to a golf course. If you did, you might embarrass yourself,” he says, reaching for a sports analogy. “So maybe if you’re a virgin and want to have sex for the first time without embarrassing yourself – if you think that might happen – a brothel can be a good place to get over those initial nerves.”

The young man says he has done a lot of therapy and agrees that there is also an emotional angle: “I have definitely been able to let go of some things.”