A New Book That Is Relevant to My Interests

Confession time: I’ve long had this odd little fascination for… brothels.

Oh, stop! I don’t mean it like that. My interest is purely academic. Well… mostly academic. When you grow up in strait-laced Utah, you can’t help but feel some attraction to the seedier side of things, especially when the notorious flesh-pots of Nevada are only a few hours away. (The Mustang Ranch outside of Reno had a near-legendary quality among my peers when I was in my early twenties; I remember much discussion of taking a little road trip… of course, it never happened, but the idea occupied a large patch of real-estate in our imaginations for a time.)

Seriously, though, youthful rebelliousness and licentiousness aside, I really am interested in the history and sociology of the whole phenomenon, especially in the context of how puritanical American culture tends to be, generally speaking. Basically, there are certain underground economies that flaunt traditional morality and that flourish in spite of — or maybe because of? — the country’s surface-level propriety, and these never really go away despite periodic attempts to stamp them out. I’m intrigued by that dichotomy, and by the hypocrisy of a society that’s unwilling to legitimize these economies even while so many individual Americans privately embrace them. So naturally a new book by Jayme Lynn Blaschke called Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch, which is just out today, has been on my radar for some time.

The Chicken Ranch (I don’t know why these places are always “ranches,” but that’s the way of things) is probably the best-known brothel in America, thanks to its being immortalized in the stage musical and Dolly Parton/Burt Reynolds film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, as well as that staple of classic-rock radio, ZZ Top’s “La Grange.” Jayme himself is a native of the La Grange area who grew up hearing tales of the infamous “home on the range,” and spent years researching the real story behind the legend, followed by further years trying to find a publisher for his book. I’m really delighted for him that he’s finally succeeded. Here’s the book’s official promo:

As I said, Inside the Chicken Ranch is on the market as of today, available from all the usual outlets, including Amazon and direct from the publisher. Congratulations, Jayme, I can’t wait to read it!


2 comments on “A New Book That Is Relevant to My Interests

  1. Jayme Blaschke

    Apparently, during the 19th century as the U.S. was expanding west, brothels almost immediately sprang up wherever forts were established on the frontier. These were known as “hog ranches.” I have no idea why they were called that, but that may explain how the Chicken Ranch, Mustang Ranch, etc. were named in part. Curiously, the La Grange brothel was referred to as the Chicken Farm in the 40s, 50s and into the 60s. Chicken Ranch eventually supplanted that name, but again, no idea why.

  2. jason

    Interesting… there’s a country-western bar in the Salt Lake area that my parents have always referred to as “the hog farm” (the actual name is The Westerner). I wonder if there’s a connection to the hog ranch/farm brothel terminology? (This bar is known as a meat market, if you know what I mean. Come to think of it, the term “meat market” is probably related too… )