PAHRUMP, Nev. -- Stripper/porn star/prostitute Anita Cannibal
says she has a bachelor of arts degree that she earned before she
entered the adult business, as well as a bachelor of science in
business administration that she finished in 2007. She is working
now at Chicken Ranch for a few months earning money and taking a
break from law school, where she is in her second year at the
University of West Los Angeles School of Law. Of all the workers
here right now, she has the highest profile, with an already
abundant collection of press clippings. And if that was not
enough, she is making her own documentary: "Porn Star Goes to Law
Though her career arc is focused now, her entry into adult work
was surprisingly casual. She started as a stripper when she was
in her 20s, she says, after her car broke down while she was
driving back from the second Woodstock concert. And she feels she
made the right choice entering the adult business. Her stage show
as a stripper included fire-eating and sword-swallowing, taught
one night by Penn of Penn & Teller fame. "The sword-swallowing
really helped my career get to the next level in every way. It
worked on stage. It worked in a movie."
At 39, Cannibal is one of the older women here, a fact that
pleases her. "The only thing bad about getting older in this
business is that I will never get to see my hair turn gray."
Even after law school, Cannibal sees her practice focusing on
adult entertainment, and she would not mind owning her own
brothel one day. "I would change nothing about how the brothel
industry is run. I see myself as an advocate for the legal sex
industry," she says. Cannibal has in her room a pile of studies
from various journals, and has made it her work to contrast the
safety of Nevada brothels with the adult business in California.
She has worked in both, and she considers Nevada brothels much
safer. "Testing is not protection," she says. "The porn industry
only tests. We are required by law in Nevada to be tested and
practice safe sex."
Of course, brothels do not test for every STD either, though they
do test for HIV, among others. I asked Cannibal if she thinks
brothel workers should, for example, be given herpes tests. Her
response: "I am not tested for malaria, and I see a lot of troops
who just got back from foreign countries."
I asked her if she worries that she could have a customer with
HIV, whereas in adult films all parties are tested. But she said
she's confident that safe sex as practiced in Nevada brothels
The Nevada brothel industry for a long time has proudly claimed
that no one has ever been infected with HIV in a legal brothel in
this state. In my years reporting on brothels here, I have never
heard anyone dispute that, including two UNLV professors I have
spoken with who study the brothels.