Watch This Amazing Doc About the Secret Lives of Sex Workers

by:   |   Aug 13 2014


I was checking out what goodies Hulu had on offer,when I stumbled across Chicken Rancha 1983 documentary that depicts life inside an infamous legal brothel in a remote Nevada desert town. (The movie was made by Nick Broomfield, who, incidentally, went on to make the Kurt & Courtney and Aileen Wuornos documentaries.) Not only is it a fascinating and intimate peek inside the life of a sex workers a few decades back, but the fashion and interiors made me feel so many feelings. Ultimately, it made me realize my deep-seated desire to buy a heavily wood-paneled trailer, move to Nevada, have big hair, and exclusively wear polyester robes and cheap lingerie. Although honestly, this really doesn’t seem like that much of a reach for me, so I’ve filed this away as option C in my list of long-term life plans.

The real star of the show is Fran, the house madam. The doc’s opening scene shows Fran (pictured below) taking a call from someone asking about the brothel’s rates. She answers by saying, “It’s hard for me to give you a price, because I don’t know what kind of party you’d want. We’ve got the VIP Roomwhich includes the waterbed, jacuzzi, and passion chair, all of which are very popularor you can party in the lady’s room with your straight lay, ½ and ½, 69, frappes and many many more.” First off, can anyone fill me in on the definition of “frappe”? Because my mind is going into some really dark, foam-filled places right now.

In any case, Fran’s boss attitude and matching wardrobe made her an instant obsession for me. I mean, the woman wears bell-sleeve, floor-length gowns on the regular like it ain’t no thing, and manages a brothel with a firm-yet-tender hand. BONERS ARE GOING OFF LIKE FIREWORKS in her place of business, and Fran is like, “Everyone act like adults, please.”

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Everything about Fran is so profesh. Her ring game is on point, to say nothing of her polyester-print dresses and dat HAIR. I’m so into it that I may go “full turquoise Trailer Warrior” this fall… Stay tuned for more as this story develops.

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Directing a guest with a iron floral sleeve.

Fran’s not the only thing to love about this movie, though. Chicken Ranch delves into the lives of the prostitutes-in-residence, and divulges some fun/sad/fascinating facts about their lives, and what led them to this gig.

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Ladies looking bored and scantily clad.

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Nothing to see here: just some working gals demonstrating the “Passion Chair.”

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 Could this guy be any more perfect for the cliché of the part-time photographer/full-time creep?

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Big boombox, big hair, and big looks all around.

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 Shotgunning a joint on the job.

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Smokin’ cigs and talkin’ about big dreams.

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This trailer’s decor has a very “Jersey grandmother’s rec room” vibe.

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Drunk dancing in the parlor in some game-changing housecoats.

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 Talking smack and having fun.


If you haven’t seen Chicken Ranch, put in on your list, stat!

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Creative Director of G.A.L.

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  • JulaiOhMy

    I love how the art in the brothel/trailer depicts olde-timey brothel goings-ons. And in THAT little painted brothel, there are probably more paintings of even-olde-timier brothels, and it probably just goes back forever from there.