Dennis Hof was found dead Tuesday morning at The Love Ranch in Crystal, Nevada.
Hof was 72 years old and had just celebrated his birthday the night before, in a political fundraiser that included the likes of former porn star Ron Jeremy and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Often referring to himself as the "Trump of Pahrump," Hof capitalized on fame gleaned primarily from reality television, and was arguably one of the most famous pimps of modern times.
“Hof was a throwback in many ways. A throwup in other ways depending on your perspective on the pimp business,” Nevada Public Radio contributor John L. Smith said.
Smith said like many flesh peddlers Hof had an "outsized personality."
He said the brothel owner knew how to capitalize on the press' endless fascination with cathouses and seamier side of the state.
“He was not just a good businessman, balancing the books at a brothel, but he was a fella who understood that people were looking for a pithy quote," Smith said, "They were looking for an attitude and a kind of image and he gave it to them and to his great benefit financially."
Smith is not surprised to see some of the stars of the country's conservative side at the party. Besides former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist was at Hof's birthday party.
“Hof basically started to promote himself in the era of Trump as a guy who was palatable and a kind of business Republican,” he said.
The brothel owner was a candidate for Nevada Assembly, and his name will remain on the ballot November 6.
Smith believes President Donald Trump's election opened the gate for Hof's own political ambitions. He said that normally brothel bosses don't run for office.
“They don’t really have much chance of winning in society but of course society has seemed to have shifted a bit,” he said.
Smith said Hof saw a chance to not only promote his libertarian politics but his businesses. He said Hof campaigned on some of the same issues as most Republicans rolling back taxes for example, but he also had some more cliched ideas that Smith thought "fit on the bill of a cap or a T-shirt."
Hof was not without his controversies. He had been accused of sexual assault and rape. He also had several run-ins with the Nye County Commission over the years.
“It’s nice to be on television and have a book out and to be able to promote yourself as the American pimp or the Trump of Pahrump as he liked to call himself more recently but in reality, it’s a dirty business,” Smith said.
Smith said the brothel business in Nevada has long been associated with corruption and it was no different in Nye County.
He thinks that people somehow believe legalized prostitution is better or less hypocritical in Nevada because it is legal in some counties.
“For me, as a lifelong Nevadan, someone born and raised in Nevada, it is a blight on our state. It always has been," he said, “But the reality is having brothel bosses with a high profile is nothing but bad news for the state of Nevada.”
John L Smith, contributor
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