Brothel owner Bobbi Davis has a plan to "stimulate the economy," and she means that exactly the way you think she does.
Starting July 1, her Shady Lady Ranch will hand out gasoline gift cards to paying customers who make the drive to the bordello on U.S. Highway 95 north of Beatty. Spend $300 on you know what and get a $50 gas card. Spend $500 and get a $100 gas card.
Davis hopes the promotion will bring back some of the business they have lost to record-high fuel prices.
"We've noticed it a little this month. It hasn't been frightening, but it's been a little (slower)," she said. "We have some people from Las Vegas who have been loyal to us. We thought this might be a way to get them to come back and say hi."
Davis said the brothel usually has three to five women working at a time. Three hundred dollars will get you a full hour with the shady lady of your choice.
"You get a little half and half, with multiple positions and multiple climaxes," Davis explained.
For $500, you get, well, more.
The promotion is slated to run through the end of the month or until Davis runs out of gift cards, whichever comes first.
Brothel industry lobbyist George Flint likes the idea. He's just not sure it will work on men in Las Vegas.
"There's enough ladies of the evening available, illegally or legally," he said. "They don't need to get in their cars and drive to a place 135 miles away."
Actually, it's more like 150 miles one way from downtown Las Vegas to the Shady Lady's yellow mobile home alongside an otherwise deserted stretch of U.S. Highway 95 in southern Nye County. Depending on the car, $50 worth of gas will barely cover one round trip.
But Flint, who also owns a wedding chapel in Reno, said you can't fault Davis for trying, especially in this economy.
"There's a lot of people out there are hurting right now," he said. "Anything an owner can do in any business should be applauded for trying."
The impact of rising fuel costs is obvious at brothels along Interstate 80 in Northern Nevada, Flint said. Business there has declined by about 20 percent, mostly due to long-haul truckers who can barely afford diesel fuel, let alone creature comforts on the road.
Meanwhile in Southern Nevada, some brothel owners have told Flint that "things are as bad as they've ever seen them," he said.
Over the past three years, the Shady Lady's two closest competitors -- Angels Ladies to the south and the Cottontail Ranch to the north -- have closed their doors.
"She's a voice crying out there in the wilderness all by herself," Flint said of Davis.
She and her husband, Jim, have owned and operated the Shady Lady for 16 years.
They made headlines in 2007 when they joined with the American Civil Liberties Union on a successful challenge of a state ban on brothel advertising in Clark and Washoe counties, where prostitution in illegal.
Since then, Davis said, the brothel has taken out some "modest" ads in Las Vegas and seen a small increase in traffic as a result.
Lately, though, the pain at the pump has spread to the parlor, Davis said.
According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is now $4.25 in the Las Vegas Valley.
Davis said her husband just paid $4.38 a gallon at the nearest filling station in Beatty, so it's a probably a good thing that none of the gasoline cards she bought will work there.
She added that a customer can also earn the card by spending $300 on souvenirs, though that would be pretty hard to do. All the brothel sells -- aside from the obvious, that is -- are T-shirts, key chains, shot glasses, poker chips and commemorative coins. "But you could really stock up," Davis said.
The Shady Lady isn't the only brothel trying to lure customers with a unique promotion in dark economic times.
At the Moonlight Bunny Ranch near Carson City, outspoken owner Dennis Hof is offering to double the money of the first 100 customers who choose to cash their federal stimulus checks at the brothel.
Since the promotion was launched last week, nine men have taken advantage of the deal, Hof said.
"What are you going to do, take you stimulus check to Wal-Mart? That money is going back to China," he said. "Give it to the hookers, and it will go to tattoo parlors and beer and massage therapists and hair stylists and manicurists. We're keeping the money in America."
As part of the promotion, Hof has placed a giant thank-you card in the brothel's parlor for customers to sign after doing their piece to spur the economy. Once the card fills up, Hof plans to mail it to President Bush at the White House.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at email@example.com or 702-383-0350.