Dennis Hof, the 71-year-old brothel owner who describes himself as the “Barnum of Booty”, is now the Republican nominee for a Nevada state assembly seat. Hof defeated the incumbent, James Oscarson, who had served three terms, in Tuesday’s primary and now has a good chance of beating Democrat Lesia Romanov in November and holding political office in Nevada.
Hof, who goes by a number of nicknames including “America’s pimpmaster general”, owns seven legal brothels in Nevada, including the famous Moonlite BunnyRanch. His nomination comes as activists in Nye and Lyon counties, which have 40% of the state’s brothels, are petitioning to put an end to legalized prostitution.
“This is American history,” Hof announced to the press when it was clear he had won. “I feel like right won over might and another Rino (Republican in Name Only) got fired.” Despite Hof’s proclamations, it’s not clear just how much of a Republican he actually is. In 2016, he unsuccessfully ran against Oscarson as a Libertarian party candidate. And, at one point in the 2016 election, Hof endorsed Hillary Clinton with a “Hookers for Hillary” campaign. A month after Donald Trump was elected, however, Hof announced his switch to the Republican party.
“It’s all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus for me,” Hof told the Associated Press on Tuesday night as he celebrated his win. “He found the way and I jumped on it.” Hof has previously waxed lyrical about his similarities with the president and styles himself as “the Trump of Pahrump.” Like Trump, Hof is a reality TV veteran – he starred in the HBO adult reality series Cathouse. He’s also an author: in 2015 he released his memoir, The Art of the Pimp, which begins by detailing how meeting Marilyn Monroe as a child led to his first erection.
Like Trump, Hof has also been accused of sexual assault. According to a police report released earlier this year, two former prostitutes alleged they were “raped and battered” daily by the brothel owner several years ago. The Nye County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute because the four-year statute of limitations had run out. Hof denies the charges.
While Hof has been a big name in Nevada for a long time, he gained international notoriety in 2015 when basketball player Lamar Odom was found unconscious in one of Hof’s brothels. “It was terrible for him,” Hof told the Guardian in a 2016 interview, “but it put me on media worldwide. It happened nine and a half months into the year, but it was still the number one Google searched item of the year. Even more than Caitlyn Jenner.”
If Hof wins in November he won’t be the first Nevada brothel owner to hold office: Lance Gilman, owner of the Mustang Ranch brothel in northern Nevada, is a Storey County commissioner.