Hookers 4 Hillary: Legal prostitutes in Nevada sing Clinton's praises
As Hillary Clinton prepares for battle in the Nevada Democratic caucus Saturday, she is met with exuberant support from an unlikely source: prostitutes.
If you assumed working girls didn't care for politics, you'd be wrong.
Hookers 4 Hillary is exactly what it sounds like, a group of sex workers endorsing the former secretary of state who could become the nation's first female president.
The faction is made up of roughly 500 women employed at the Silver State's iconic Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a legal brothel and subject of HBO's "Cathouse" owned by Dennis Hof, the outspoken author of "The Art of the Pimp: One Man's Search for Love, Sex, and Money."
"We want a voice. We believe Hillary will also hear us as women," said 29-year-old Caressa Kisses, a two-time "Bunny of the Year" who also happens to be an NCCT-certified surgical technician. "I want to fight for Hillary."
Kisses is fierce in her support of the former first lady and New York senator. She speaks of Clinton with an unwavering conviction that rivals that of a seasoned campaign spokesperson.
"I believe Hillary is on a mission to help our country succeed," Kisses said. "I just know she's shown results ... I think she wants to finalize her legacy on a good note and I think she's gonna do everything in her power to do that for us. That's what I see."
Long-awaited health insurance
Clinton's vow to uphold the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is a distinguishing factor of her campaign and the primary reason she has won the support of Hookers 4 Hillary.
Despite the fact that many of Nevada's legal sex workers earn six-figure incomes, Hof says before Obamacare took effect they were unable to get health insurance for them and their families.
"The reason is health insurance companies would lump them in with illegal prostitutes, which have a high rate of mortality, drug usage, STDs," he said. "Companies would deny them. With Obamacare, they don't deny them. That's one of the big things with Hillary is they know that she'll protect Obamacare. That's a huge, huge thing."
Hof added, "Most people can't understand it, 'cause they've never had to deal with being denied insurance."
Kisses knows that rejection all too well.
"They looked at me as an illegal escort. I've never done drugs a day in my life and I get tested every week," she said. "They wouldn't hear it."
Alice Little, an Oklahoma native who has been working at Hof's Sagebrush Ranch in Carson City for four months, couldn't agree more.
"I appreciate her support for health care reform, as that is something that directly affects me, my life, and my coworkers' [lives]," she said. "I fear that under a different candidate, sex workers may lose access to the health care that they currently now have access to."
Kisses is quick to remind that Clinton was a health care pioneer in her own right; the candidate has often said "Hillarycare," her defeated 1993 health care reform effort as first lady, was a precursor to what is now Obamacare.
"People forget that," Kisses said.
What's more important to the politically savvy blonde is the Affordable Care Act's positive impact on her family.
"I have a niece who has epilepsy and she didn't have health insurance and now, for the first time in her life, she can get health care," Kisses said, tearing up. "She's beautiful and she walks like she's never had an ailment."
Kisses admits that although Obamacare isn't without its flaws, she's confident Clinton can get revisions through Congress.
Though Kisses is a registered Libertarian who has supported former Texas Rep. Ron Paul in presidential elections past (Hookers 4 Hillary was formerly Pimpin' for Paul in 2008 and 2012), she now refers to Clinton as though she were an old friend.
"When I see her, I see a woman who wants to defend our country," she says. "I believe wholeheartedly she has touched my life. They can call her whatever they want. Actions speak louder than words. I know she's significantly made change in my life."
Let's talk politics
Hookers 4 Hillary has been raising eyebrows of late with the arrival of the Nevada caucus, but the initiative kicked off nearly a year ago in April, soon after Clinton announced her candidacy.
Kisses says she and her coworkers meet weekly, to "learn about each other, meet the new girls. It's very inspirational."
Last spring, it was at one of these meetings where Hookers 4 Hillary was born.
"This is where we vote, and whoever is the majority, that's where we go with the campaign," Kisses said. "They don't encourage you to vote for someone you don't care for. The majority rules. That's how we came to Hillary."
Hof says at that time, 495 of 540 Bunny Ranch prostitutes supported her. Ten months later, he doubts that number has changed.
Hof, who announced last month he is running for a state senate seat, is just glad his employees are politically active.
"I think the biggest thing to me is that the girls are involved in the process, that they're thinking [about] politics and changing America," he said. "I just want them involved in the process."
Echoing that sentiment, Little is happy to share her love of politics with her peers.
"We have been encouraging the girls to become more interested in politics, when many of the girls previously weren't involved, and didn't understand how politics can affect their lives," she said.
But one thing's for certain, Hof says: the women "won't vote for any Republican. They want to take away women's rights."
Political pillow talk
A number of Hookers 4 Hillary members are so dedicated to their cause that they offer their clients extra time and services in exchange for donations to Clinton's campaign.
"Anyone who donates for Hillary gets an extended half hour," Kisses explains. "At whatever donation they pledge to her campaign, we can eat together or we can entertain for that time. I have had three people pledge thus far."
Hof elaborated, "There's always negotiation in prostitution. They'll say, 'If I give you a discount, will you take a look at Hookers 4 Hillary? If you like what you see, will you give a donation to the Hillary site?' We're not taking any money ourselves. We are sending them to the site. I saw a guy yesterday put $500 toward Hillary here at the ranch."
"At least they're looking," he added. "They're taking the time to look at Hillary's site, our site. Some they'll convince, some they won't. They're pretty persuasive."
Clinton may have done some persuading herself; Hof, a Libertarian, is considering voting for the former secretary of state.
"Unless something changes, I'm gonna have to vote for Hillary, too," he admits. "As conservative as I am and as Nevada is, these Republicans don't give you much of a choice."
How does the Clinton campaign feel about the Bunnies' unusual fundraising method? Sinclair Broadcast Group's requests for comment were not immediately returned.
Why not Hookers 4 Sanders?
"He looks like the grandpa you wanna hug and have chicken soup with," Kisses said of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a note of sympathy diluting her cheery tone. "He speaks really well, but I don't think he can do it. He can't deliver it."
Repeating the war cry of Sanders critics, she continued, "I don't believe he can fulfill everything he says he's gonna do."
It's no secret Clinton's rival has of late enjoyed surging popularity among teens and young adults. According to CNN exit polls in last week's New Hampshire primary, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist beat out Clinton 83 to 16 percent among voters 18-29, 66 to 32 percent among voters 30-44, and 54-45 percent among voters 45-64. Clinton only bested Sanders among voters 65 and older, 54 to 45 percent. Whites made up 93 percent of those polled.
In the Iowa caucus earlier this month, CNN entrance polls showed Sanders beating Clinton 84 to 14 percent among voters 17-29, and 58 to 37 percent among voters 30-44. In the Hawkeye State, where 91 percent of the poll's respondents were white, Clinton won 58 to 35 percent among voters 45-64, and 69 to 26 percent among those over 65.
A national NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll released Tuesday gave Sanders the overwhelming majority of the millennial vote - but only among whites. The data shows that among registered Democrats ages 18 to 34, whites prefer Sanders over Clinton 75 to 22 percent. But among blacks, Clinton won 64 to 25 percent.
As 25-year-old Little explains, not all millennials are "feeling the Bern." While Sanders' promises of a "political revolution" and tuition-free college have attracted many a young voter this primary season, their realization has been questioned.
"I am thrilled that so many millennials are getting excited about politics and becoming involved for the first time," Little said. "Because of many millennials' newness to the political scene, they aren't familiar with what promises are actually possible, versus what's being said to gain favor. I believe that as more millennials gain experience, they'll begin to understand the value of a realistic candidate versus one who promises the world."
She added, "For me, Clinton is the realistic candidate. She isn't over-promising on things she is unable to deliver and her policies are rock solid."
Little, who outside the ranch works as a massage therapist and sex educator, says she actively promotes political awareness among her peers back home in Oklahoma through classes offered at libraries and colleges. She believes more needs to be done in high school to educate teens about becoming well-informed voters.
"I have found that most twentysomethings haven't put time into doing political research for themselves, and instead base their opinions off of popular opinion," she said. "Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are becoming a talking point of political-based memes, in which many millennials are commenting and expressing their opinions on politics and policies for the first time."
Hof says, "I think the biggest thing for the girls is, number one, they think a woman would be more sensitive to their needs."
He continued, "They feel like she'll be more sensitive and more active in stopping sex trafficking in America, which is out of hand, underage girls being forced to work. There's a lot of it going on, more than anybody understands."
Do the legal prostitutes think Sanders could effectively combat sex trafficking?
"They think he can, but he hasn't talked about it," Hof said. "They just think a woman would be more concerned about stopping sex trafficking than a man, and I think they're right."
Hookers 4 Hillary activists, like most Clinton supporters, will tell you they back the former secretary of state not merely because she's a woman, but because they feel there is no better candidate prepared for the presidency.
"As long as they're doing a good job, I don't care if it's a man or a woman," Kisses says. "At the end of the day, we need good people, results."
Yet, no matter your political views, it's impossible to ignore the historical significance the election of America's first female president would mark.
"She is someone that all women can look up to and admire," Little says of Clinton. "The gender inequality in politics is troublesome, so I am very pleased to support not just a female candidate, but one who places value in women's issues."
Kisses can't wait to drop her Libertarian affiliation and caucus for Clinton on Saturday.
"I will be there. I'm so excited," she said. "The thought of a woman president is kinda cool ... it would be a step for a woman to know she can work toward the presidency."
And Hillary, if you're listening, Little has a message for you: "Thank you for being an icon that women can be proud of."