Guarded sex: a brothel owner seeks to understand with nonprofit advocacy

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When Bella Bella's restaurant and espresso guests Bella Bella become nervous or curious about her other activities not far away in Wells, she encourages them to go out and do a guided tour of her Hacienda Ranch to find out what it's all about.

"It's one of the few brothels where you can ring the bell, come in, no matter what your gender, talk to girls, go to the house, get answers to your questions, learn something," Cummins said. "Find out why people do this, what's their calling, ask them!"

Some people, including seniors, accept this suggestion, which usually helps them understand how their brothel work at the end of their visit.

Cummins, sole owner of Hacienda Ranch, invests heavily in fighting the judgments she faces as a brothel owner and in improving the image of the industry. of Nevada sex as a whole. Recently, she founded the Onesta Foundation to accomplish this. Its objectives are not so complicated, even though many local and national stereotypes will be out of date, and so will others, like others around the state, keep a close eye on what will happen in the legislature this year.

"It's like cutting one's teeth to be a second class citizen," she said. "You are really, what I call, a hard skin as much as the concern for approval.You solve that pretty quickly and learn to stay discreet …. You work to keep it at the shelter looks, because of the stigma, the judgment and the things that kept the industry misunderstood and in the dark ages for a long time ".

In addition to owning her restaurant with her daughter in Wells, Cummins is now the executive director of the foundation she founded last August to raise awareness. It also aims to find legislative solutions for the legal sex industry. She also hopes that Onesta will help workers improve their skills as business owners and their own safety, a value inspired by past interactions in smaller jurisdictions between city or county managers, the police and his own company.

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"It's clumsy, and it's probably one of my last times to think that it was important to prove that I was right, that I was not doing anything," he said. she said. "I learned a lot about how to become a better person, how to look at the men who walk through the door and how much influence I had on them. It was huge because there, you're really being beaten up, and then when you come in through a brothel door, life happened – and yet you have the need to be human just for a moment. "

To help her in her efforts, she recruited local community activist Steve Funk, who helps her promote programs aimed at eliminating stereotypes about workers in the brothels and hobby sector. sensual services. Funk is originally from Northern California Bay and has been a long-time communications professional in northern Nevada. He accepted the task of helping Cummins create Onesta through a few common friends after she decided that he was best placed to help "without judgment," he said.

One of the places Funk immediately wants to focus on for Cummins is the improvement of the relationship of homeowners and workers with the municipalities and the police.

"One of our big tasks is to open the dialogue and the relationship between industry and law enforcement, because at the moment, the forces of the government of the day, the police and the police, Order abuse the industry because it can, "said Funk.

Between counties or cities and their own sheriffs or police departments applying the code defined by each jurisdiction, Cummins and Funk want to ensure that everyone's rights are also protected.

"It seems to me that there should be a better way to regulate brothels in the 21st century," Cummins said. "And I'll add this: Nevada decides it's going to watch what it's doing in Reno and Las Vegas because if everyone knows it's an illegal activity in all cities , the question is we just in rural Nevada to really keep a low profile or are we here to make a change? "

Funk's ideas and strategies are assets that Cummins expects to support in the months to come in conversations she wants to have with legislators as she embarks on these discussions, as well as for her ability to place the birth of Onesta in context.

The origin of "Onesta" for the Onesta Foundation is based on the women of the Cortigiana Onesta, or "Honest Courtisane", from Venice, Italy, from the sixteenth century to the Renaissance. "The courtesan," said Cummins, means "just, honest, and virtuous," and the men and women who attended the court were highly favored and politically astute as dignitaries of the time. But as art and culture flourished in the 1500s, the health and safety of women began to deteriorate. Funk said that power changes hands, as do conversations about politics, sex, and women's rights and roles.

"There were also some personal personal agendas, but the fact was that by taking it out of the shadows and light, we could be better assured of health and safety, and so they used education and culture, music and art, and science to create a higher class of courtesan, who was the Cortigiana Onesta, "said Funk. "And at that time, it was considered a great success."

Although the word "courtesan" has gradually taken on a more negative connotation, Cummins wants to give the industry something that is lacking to help the public better understand what is going on behind closed doors in brothels, which , for many clients, is generally more searching for the company than fleeting sexual activity. Ladies who spend time with men in these rooms generally respond to emotional rather than physical needs.

"It's not always about the sexual act," Cummins said. "There are deeper psychological problems and needs: how working women can have a positive influence on men and their psychological problems that they are unable to handle safely outside the legally authorized sex industry. .. and that we always do more, and we do a lot to support this kind of research … "

She said her vision was to invite other owners and employees of brothels to participate in the advocacy and education effort, and the more those who would join it, the better.

"There has never been any direction, that is, professional women workers are eliminating stigma and being allowed to have a collective," she said. "Instead, it's been every brothel for themselves – and that includes Dennis (Hof)."

Cummins, originally from the Midwest, started in agriculture and opened his first business in Carson City. She has lectured and is committed to helping young women aspiring to become entrepreneurs in eastern Nevada. She encourages them to dream and see bigger, which is one of their goals in this legislature with Onesta.

"I have never intended to be the kind of approach of solitary guards," she said. "… The idea is to talk about how to be human safely, that is the way that I think is necessary to be able to talk about the sensual services sector with clear direction and purpose and to tie it to something good. "