CRYSTAL, Nev.—Dennis Hof, arguably the most famous pimp of the last century, died in his sleep last night at the Love Ranch brothel, which he owned, while recovering from a birthday party thrown for him by friends and admirers. Hof had just turned 72 on October 14. The exact cause of Hof’s death has yet to be reported.
Hof first got into the brothel business in 1993, when he purchased the Moonlite BunnyRanch (at which he had been a frequent customer) for $700,000, and spent another $500,000 remodeling the place, which had been in business since 1955. Hof owned and operated three Nevada brothels besides the BunnyRanch: The Love Ranch Vegas, the Kit Kat Guest Ranch and the Sagebrush Ranch.
One undeniable fact about Hof is that he was the consummate showman, and a self-publicist of the highest order. Besides being president of the Nevada Brothel Owners’ Association, he was also its chief lobbyist, fighting to keep prostitution legal in the Nevada counties where it already is legal—a status which was threatened when, in April of this year, anti-prostitution activists gathered signatures for petitions to put a measure on the November ballot which would make prostitution again illegal in Lyon and Nye counties—the two counties where Hof’s bordellos are located.
Hof also had a knack for attracting both adult performers looking to expand their incomes and celebrities who enjoyed a “walk on the wild side.” Adult actresses including Sunset Thomas (to whom Hof was married for a brief time), Teri Weigel, Alana Luv, Sunny Lane, Mika Tan, Brooke Taylor, Joslyn James, Lyla Storm, Cumisha Amado, Cassandra Cruz and several others have plied the trade there, and Hof even had a room reserved for legendary star Ron Jeremy. Hof was a perennial attendee at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, and even bought exhibition space there on several occasions.
The brothel got even more publicity from the string of mainstream celebrities who either visited there or got offers from Hof to work there—such as O.J. Simpson upon his release from prison, and John Wayne Bobbitt, the guy whose wife Lorena cut off his penis, and who worked there as a bartender briefly after his abortive adult career with the reattached member. Hof even managed to get photos of former President Bill Clinton surrounded by a group of BunnyRanch girls.
And who could forget basketball star Lamar Odom, who OD’d on “male enhancement pills” at the Love Ranch and had to be rushed to the hospital.
More recently, among those who helped Hof celebrate his birthday on last night at the Love Ranch included disgraced Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.
Another famous name connected to Hof is former “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss, whose conviction for pandering was overturned, and who in 2005 consulted with Hof about opening her own brothel in Nevada, Heidi’s Stud Farm, which would feature male courtesans. The two hooked up, and at last reports were still a couple.
Over the years, Hof has been plagued with accusations of sexual assault, dating back to 2005, when he was accused of raping one of the sex workers at his brothels, and again in 2009 and 2011 when he was accused of sexual assaults. None of the charges were ever brought to court, and Hof, who claims that he only dates women between 22 and 30 years old, dismissed the accusations as “absurd.”
However, more recently, it was reported that Hof was again under investigation for sexual assault, after a woman being treated at a Carson City area hospital told the Carson City Sheriff’s Office that Hof had raped her. Again, Hof denied the charge, and a press statement he released said that he “believes the allegations are groundless and politically motivated.”
But perhaps the thing that really put Hof on the worldwide map was the HBO reality series filmed at the BunnyRanch, aptly titled Cathouse, which began as a pair of specials, Cathouse and Cathouse 2: Back in the Saddle, which aired in 2002 and 2003, leading to the series which began airing in late 2005 and lasted two seasons—which were repeated for nearly a decade. Hof presided over each episode, which took HBO’s cameras inside his bordellos, interviewing the workers and occasionally even their customers, and even following the women into their rooms as they serviced the johns, though only limited sexual activity was shown.
Another of Hof’s claims to fame was the publication in 2015 of his autobiography, The Art of the Pimp: A Love Story, in which Hof discussed his successes and failures in his journey to become the P.T. Barnum of prostitution, and offered a look at everything from the trick of turning tricks to the secrets of his marketing stunts to the details of his friendships with porn stars, prostitutes and politicians.
Hof has also spoken at Oxford University in England, Trinity College in Dublin, and the Sorbonne University in Paris, and has had guest appearances on a number of popular radio and TV shows, most notably The Howard Stern Show, where, for example, he announced that an unnamed woman would be auctioning off her virginity at the BunnyRanch. Hof even gave Fox News’ Sean Hannity a tour of the BunnyRanch.
Hof became involved in politics in about 2015, first as a Libertarian looking to replace Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in Congress, then running again as a Libertarian against Pahrump-area Assemblyman James Oscarson in 2016. Hof lost that battle, but the following year, switched parties and ran against Oscarson as a Republican in 2018, defeating Oscarson in the Republican primary and securing his place on the statewide ballot this year against Democrat Lesia Romanov.
Interestingly, according to the Nevada Independent, “Under Nevada state law, candidates who die after the fourth Friday in July will still be placed on the ballot, but the county clerk must post a notice that the candidate is deceased at every polling place. If the deceased candidate receives a majority of the votes, the office is vacated and must be filled as if the candidate died in office. Nevada’s Constitution requires that the board of county commissioners fill any vacant legislative seat with a person of the same political party”—which could very well be Oscarson.
It is not known what will happen to the brothels now that Hof is dead, since he left no heirs.