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December 20, 2014

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America’s first legal male prostitute looks back on short-lived career

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This undated photo provided by OC Modeling of Chatsworth, Calif., shows "Markus," Nevada's first male prostitute. The college dropout who abandoned a brief stint as a porn actor in Los Angeles has become the only legal gigolo in the United States.

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The Shady Lady Ranch brothel is pictured Monday, Jan. 18, 2010, in Beatty.

Markus never liked the "P word." Nevada's first legal male prostitute would have preferred "surrogate lover." It didn't catch on. Instead, Markus left the Shady Lady Ranch brothel in Nye County after two months' work, fewer than 10 clients and, he said, a "maelstrom of media."

"Now I just need to lie low for a while. It was too much press, too many people coming in pretending to be clients and then turning out to be reporters. I got portrayed as strange and a little bit off-kilter. The whole story was sensationalized."

Still, Markus says, he should have known it would happen — "The first person to do anything is going to get the brunt of the criticism."

In January, one day before he opened for business, Markus compared himself to Rosa Parks in an interview with Details magazine. The comment generated so much controversy that Shady Lady owners forbade Markus, 25, from giving future interviews.

Markus says he still stands by the comparison. "Discrimination is discrimination," he said. "It exists on all levels, whether it's gender, racial or religious discrimination."

The next surrogate lover, Markus figures, will have it easier.

"This was about changing social norms, and showing that [prostitution] is acceptable in a safe environment. Hopefully I can help set a precedent, because within the economy, and the way things are going now, we need every industry we can to create some kind of revenue."

Markus is now in California, returning to his prior career in porn. The Shady Lady, meanwhile, has reportedly hired a man named "Y. Not" to take Markus' place, though no one has been able to interview him. (Y. Not is on hiatus until May or June while the Shady Lady repairs an electrical problem in his brothel bungalow, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.)

Even Markus may only be on hiatus — he hasn't ruled out returning to brothel work some day. "If you look at the key issues, [prostitution] is a pretty serious thing. It could be a very successful industry, but because of our society's Puritan roots, it's frowned upon."

This is why Markus doesn't like the word prostitution, he says — people are programmed to associate it "with seedy, underhanded dealings, and that is not what I am about.

"In reality," he said, "I'm just a performer, filling a void."

— Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly

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