Described as the “P.T. Barnum of pussy” for his showmanship in the arena of sex, The Art of the Pimp takes us through the life of businessman, entrepreneur, sex-trafficking fighter and pimp Dennis Hof, owner of the world-famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch and star of the HBO hit-series Cathouse.
Hof’s motto for the Bunny Ranch, “not just sex… an adventure!” seems to mirror his own, almost surreal life story. With the title on the cover intentionally mimicking that of Donald Trump’s The Art Of The Deal, Hof shares with us, in candid and unapologetic detail, the story of his remarkable rise in the worlds of sex and business: from his humble upbringing through the building of his brothel empire and covering all of the sexual adventures and escapades in between. For the first time, Hof takes us inside a world that many have misconceived notions about and few could truly understand: that of a brothel owner who is an expert salesman, successful businessman and polarizing adult entertainment celebrity.
From his first erection while meeting Marilyn Monroe to his high school weekend job chauffeuring girls around to meet guys their parents wouldn’t approve of, you can get a sense that Hof was almost pre-destined for a lifestyle and a career with foundations rooted in sex and the companionship of women. In candid detail, with added commentary and backstory from his closest friends and business associates, such as Madam Suzette, Air Force Amy and Ron Jeremy, Hof shares the story of how he grew his brothel empire in Nevada: from his introduction to the lifestyle by his then-working girl girlfriend to his friendship with Andy Kaufman and their plans (before Kaufman’s untimely passing) to create a brothel that wasn’t “get in, fuck ‘em, get out” as was the standard in the brothels back when Hof first started in the business, but one where the guests felt like they were family and the girls were treated not as a product to be exploited, but as human beings who should be empowered. Hof truly believes in empowering women, always teaching, encouraging and motivating the army of working girls to create their own, independent success. From one relationship to another, we see Hof’s life through his own tumultuous relationship with his family, relationships with his closest friends as well as the many women he’s dated (and slept with), all the while constantly questioning his own best interests between the life he has, which many men would undoubtable kill for, and a simpler life with one of the many women he has loved but lost due to his inability and unwillingness to make the “ultimate commitment” of a ring and a “happily ever after.”
While the book mostly focuses on Hof’s life, business success and sexual escapades, The Art of the Pimp is a surprisingly strong sales book, with Hof providing a wealth of sage advice and insight that led him to become the successful businessman that he is, such as the importance of listening to others, the power of networking, that people who don’t take risks seldom succeed, and the importance of the human connection over that of the hard sell. He even delves into the biker mentality of “you show any weakness, you’re dead” when hiding his own pain and personal issues from those in his business. Appropriately titled “Unhappy Endings,” the book concludes with Hof confronting his own faults, self-doubts and personal demons, not afraid to be labeled a narcissist and sex addict as well as including scathing commentary by former lover Caressa Kisses and a less than flattering psychiatric evaluation by Sheenah Hankin, PhD,. It’s remarkable to see anyone willing to post the feedback of their biggest enemies and critics in their own book, but this only goes to show the remarkable strength and keen personal insight that Hof possesses.
Despite whatever preconceived notions you have regarding the world of prostitution, Hof has presented a natural talent for bringing sex work and prostitution out of the darkness and into the light, as something not to be ashamed of but empowered and educated by. The Art of the Pimp is a powerful book both emotionally and from a business perspective, and is one that I would highly recommend to readers not only interested in the glamour of sex and the “rock star lifestyle” but those who want to truly know what it takes to become a success at business. There truly is “no business like ho business,” and there is no better representative of the industry, and the lifestyle, than Dennis Hof.