Sex worker


Breanna Mohr is a 27-year-old sex worker who has worked in Lyon County’s legal brothels for the past seven years. Set to receive her master’s degree in communication from the University of Nevada, Reno this spring, she actively fought against the recent campaign to criminalize prostitution in Lyon County. She is also publishing a book, Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels, this January.

Sex work was kind of front and center in the political climate over the past few months. Why did you feel that you personally needed to get involved?

I felt that I personally had an obligation to get involved because, one, I am a sex worker, and, two, since I do sex work research, I just felt like I could offer a lot to the campaign. And I mean, when your occupation is being threatened so close to home, I couldn’t fathom not getting involved and making my voice heard, and not fighting for not only my job, but the job of my coworkers. It was very frustrating most of the time, but it was, honestly, like, besides the book that’s coming out, it’s probably one of the things in life that I’m most proud of doing because we won, obviously. The vote went very well. Eighty percent voted to support us, and that was great. We had a lot of events that we were doing, and we invited the opposition to come and debate us, and they decided that they didn’t want to show up, and that’s fine. So our events turned more into kind of like educational events, and we just really got to answer the public’s questions.

What were some of the public's concerns that you found yourself pushing back against?

The campaign started off with saying—their whole slogan was “No little girl grows up wanting to be a prostitute.” So, at first, we were really pushing hard against that, because the fact that the whole language that they were using and the way that they were positioning things just was very degrading to us. Sex workers, you know, they’re not selling their bodies. They’re selling a service, and a lot of people have a hard time coming to terms with that distinction. … Also, another thing that they were really trying hard to put out there was that all of us are forced into this or are being trafficked or something along those lines. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. I know, for me, personally, I got into this because I researched it for a while, and I decided that I’m really good at connecting with people. … A lot of the women I work with are mothers or college students like me, or they just wanted something different and kind of fun and empowering. … And now that the vote is over for the county, it’s, unfortunately, not “over” over because the same organization is now working with a senator, I believe, to get a bill passed to ban legal brothels in Nevada statewide. … So, me and our campaign manager and another woman that I work with, we are starting a legal Nevada brothel association.

Dennis Hof was a very outspoken proponent for the brothels. After his death, do you feel sex workers need another central figure to fight for their cause?

I think that Dennis was that figure for a very long time. And there were definitely a lot of good things that he did for the industry, especially in Lyon County. … I don’t know if we necessarily need one voice like that anymore. I think what should happen probably is that the brothels in Nevada should all come together and collectively decide how to move forward, and really have open communication between all of them and try to get on the same page because they are kind of separated not only distance but just their communication too.