Dennis Hof, America’s biggest pimp, is dead, and I am about to speak ill of him. Yes, I know the protocol – ‘wait until the body is at least cold’. But I won’t be following polite form in this instance, and I will not be alone. Hof, 72, was found dead in one of his brothels, after a weekend-long birthday celebration, by the porn actor Ron Jeremy. At the time of his death, Hof, who won the nomination contest for a Republican state assembly seat, was looking forward to becoming an elected politician.
Hof, who was being investigated for various sexual crimes against women, including rape and trafficking, at the time of his death, made that other pimp and exploiter of women, Hugh Hefner, look like a radical feminist. He treated women like dirt, told me that selling women was no different than flogging burgers, and spent his time with other men who considered women to be worthless sluts.
In 2011, I travelled to Nevada to investigate legalised prostitution for a newspaper. Hof, who owned one third of the state’s 20 legal brothels, welcomed me and the BBC radio documentary crew I was travelling with warmly. He could not have been more helpful, showing us around his premises, introducing us to the women he pimped, and regaling us with stories of his exploits. My colleagues mistook Hof’s hospitality for kindness and generosity. But I knew differently. Hof was simply going on the premise that ‘all publicity is good publicity’. Hof was so arrogant he had nothing to fear from opening up his businesses to journalists, because he had primed all of the women in his brothels to say nothing but good about ‘Daddy’ as he demanded he be called.
Hof, author of The Art of the Pimp (2016) was the star of the HBO television series Cathouse, which focused on the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. To him, women were nothing but a commodity, and Hof made his fortune off the backs of those unfortunate enough to work for him.
During my visit to Nevada, I witnessed the ‘line-up’. When a john came into the premises, a bell rang, and all of the ‘unoccupied’ women were given 60 seconds to appear in the large reception area. They were herded like sheep and treated like dirt. Wearing the skimpiest outfits and tallest heels, they were required to stand with a smile on their faces until the john made his choice.
I saw Hof demand sex from women as though he was asking for a cup of coffee. One morning, as I was interviewing Hof in one of his brothels in the middle of nowhere, he interrupted our conversation, clicked his fingers at his latest ‘girlfriend’, and shouted at her, ‘Hey, you haven’t blown me yet today!’ The poor young woman, humiliated and traumatised, was then dragged into one of the bedrooms, only to come out 15 minutes later alongside Hof, who was banging his chest like Tarzan.
Although Hof liked to present himself as a magnanimous pimp who had the best interests of the women he sold at heart, the best description of him comes from the women he abused. ‘Daddy sells our holes [orifices] as though he is a businessman,’ Candy told me during my trip to Nevada. ‘To him we are nothing, just fuckable dolls he can make money from.’
I witnessed plenty of instances where Hof spoke to and treated the women in his brothels as though they were battery chickens. ‘Women are no good once they get past the age of 21,’ Hof told me. He was known to only ‘date’ women in prostitution because, ‘they give the best service.’ Hof was a narcissist and a misogynist. The world is better off without him.