Dennis Hof, the owner of a chain of brothels in the U.S., wants to expand to four Canadian cities: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Hof says he started his brothel career as a satisfied customer and became an owner when he opened his first operation in 1992. He now owns seven, including the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, which was featured in the HBO series Cathouse.
Hof's interest in bringing brothels to Canada follows the decision in December by the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down three provisions that target prostitution.
'I love being able to service people and make people happy.'—Jodi, a sex worker at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch
The top court ruled the provisions are unconstitutional because they actively endanger people who work in the trade.
The provisions will stay in the Criminal Code for one year while the government decides what to do.
Hof says a city such as Halifax would be better off with brothels.
"I've not been there — I just know that you have a serious problem there," he said in an interview with CBC Mainstreet on Tuesday. "When you Google 'trafficking' in Halifax, you come up with nearly a quarter-million items. You could read for two months."
He also cited Operation Northern Spotlight, a cross-Canada investigation involving more than 30 police services. Police interviewed women as young as 15 working in the sex industry in the Halifax area.
"You've got the problem and I've got the answer to fix all that," Hof said.
"The demand is there and right now it's in the hands of people that you don't want it to be. None of them are paying taxes. They're not having sexual disease tests."
- Listen: Dennis Hof explains his plans
- Listen: Sociologist Barb Brents talks about the legalized sex trade
The women who work in his brothels are tested weekly, he said.
"In 33 years of mandatory testing, we've never had a case of HIV in any Nevada brothel. So if you put in these regulations and take the business out of the hands of criminals and put it in the hands of the professionals, you're not going to have any 13-year-old girls working there," he said.
Jodi is one of Hof's employees at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.
"I love being able to service people and make people happy. I have a lot of customers come in that feel very lowly of themselves and I'm there to support them and make them feel special. That's my job," she says.
Hof says women who work 10 days a month at his brothels typically make a six-figure income. His top earner last year — Airforce Amy — made $500,000.
Barb Brents, a professor of sociology at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, is coauthor of The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland.
"There are positive and negative sides to legalized brothels," she said. Her research shows brothels are a much safer environment for sex workers compared to working on the streets. Drawbacks include exploitative managers.
Brents says working in brothels would likely appeal to some of Halifax's university students who need money for school and would consider selling sex, but not on the streets.
Moral adjustment to selling sex
If Canada's laws eventually allow Hof to open a brothel in Halifax, Brents has a few recommendations.
"You're going to have to confront the idea that women and men have the right to sell sex and deal with their bodies in the way that they want to. And you know, not a lot of people think that's good or healthy," she said. "So you're going to have to get used to it on a moral level."
She also recommends local policy makers, citizens and sex workers sit down together to come up with rules and regulations around brothels that would work best.