Tuesday, June 22, 1999 | 9:48 a.m.
John Katsilometes' column appears Tuesdays and Sundays. Reach him at 259-2327 or [email protected]
As a young man coming of age in the late '60s Bill Clinton scrawled a wrenching letter detailing his emotional strife and inner turmoil prompted by the war in Vietnam.
As a young man coming of age in the late '60s Jesse Ventura visited a Carson City brothel and cut a deal where he actually got paid by a prostitute.
Clinton was a college student at Oxford University; Ventura was a Navy SEAL. Clinton became president and lied about sex. Ventura became governor of Minnesota and told the truth -- in astonishing detail -- about sex.
(It's sort of like the Kennedy-Lincoln comparisons: Clinton cavorted with a willing intern in the Oval Office; Ventura cavorted with a willing Hulk Hogan in the squared circle.)
In his autobiography, entitled "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Reworking The Body Politic from the Bottom Up," former World Wrestling Federation caricature Ventura made the following hair-raising claim: He and a few Navy cohorts once made a trip to the Reno-Lake Tahoe area, engaged in some illegal gambling (none were yet 21), then descended on a couple of brothels just outside Carson City.
The first was the Starlight Ranch, now known as Kitty's Fantasy Ranch. The second was the Moonlight Ranch, now known as the Moonlight Bunny Ranch (both are refreshingly clean and reputable establishments, sources say).
At the Moonlight Ranch, the insatiable Ventura (at the time using his real name, Jesse Janos) met up with a woman wearing groovy rectangular shades who spied his customized belt. Ventura made the accessory out of about 20 feet of spent shell casements.
As Ventura wrote, the woman wanted the belt and asked, "What'll it take?"
Ventura retorted, "Make an offer."
"How about a trick and $10?" she said.
"I'm probably one of the only people in the world who's gone into a Nevada ranch and been paid," Ventura wrote.
Verification of that claim is provided by Dennis Hof, owner of both Kitty's Cat House and the Moonlight Bunny Ranch for the past seven years. A publicity hawk who once hired famed penile mutilation victim John Bobbitt as a bartender, Hof has more than confirmed Ventura's tale. As the marquee outside his Moonlight Bunny Ranch beacons, "Governor Jesse Ventura Had Sex Here."
So much for relying on word of mouth.
"It's absolutely true," Hof said during a phone interview last week. "I've talked to the ex-madam, the woman who was the manager back then, and she said the woman took the belt and worked the books to make it look like she'd been paid when she wasn't. It was no big deal, just $10 (the brothel industry rate for straight sex in 1969), but it did happen."
Hof refused to supply the name or any other information pertaining to the ex-madam. He said he's trying to locate Ventura's (business) partner from that night, along with the famous belt.
"If we could get the belt it would be worth a lot. I hope she kept it, because it'd be like having an authentic Joe DiMaggio jersey," Hof said. "We've asked all the people who were around here to come forward, the women who partied with him, everyone."
Expect the entire crew to wind up on Howard Stern, "Extra," "Current Affair" or some other tawdry media outlet willing to shell out big bucks for an exclusive account of Ventura's wild night.
"There are a lot of people bidding on us," Hof said. "We'll get money."
For services rendered, no doubt.
Speaking on behalf of brothel owners and the seedy underground in general, Hof applauded Ventura's blockbuster revelations.
"What a great guy to admit to this kind of stuff, and I'm making the offer that as long as he's in office he can have sex for free at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch," Hof said. "He's not a hypocrite. He's not the liar that most politicians are. I know Larry Flynt, he's a friend of mine, and he's got a lot of dirt on politicians who would never, ever have the fortitude to do what Ventura's done."
(Let the record show that Dennis Hof has dropped the name of Larry Flynt.)
As for Ventura, his legend only grows as a result of his naked honesty. What's not to like? We now know that, from at an early age, Ventura has always had the political savvy to meet and interact with diverse constituents.
He's certainly pro-business, and is particularly eager to help small businesses remain afloat.
He's always willing to negotiate and can drive a hard bargain. He's a financial whiz, too -- I'd trust anyone who can walk out of a brothel in the black with any state or federal budget.
But mostly, Minnesotans can feel safe that their highest elected official won't be a source of ethical embarrassment. Under oath or not, when Jesse Ventura speaks of sex, he shoots straight.