When you ring the buzzer at the Wild Cat Ranch, a legal brothel just outside of Mina, it’s likely you’ll be greeted by the voice of Phil Maita.
“Come in, it’s open,” you may hear in his gravelly voice.
Opening the white metal storm door is like stepping into the erotic parts of Salvador Dali’s imagination. The room is dark and hazy. Small, decades-old televisions showing images of things indescribable in a family newspaper replace melting clocks on every bookshelf and filing cabinet.
Behind the bar stands a woman named Payton. Her silvery-blond hair rests on her shoulders, covering the thin straps of her pink lingerie. She looks to be in her early 40s or late 30s and speaks with a sultry voice.
“What can I do for you sweetie?” she asks.
In the corner of the room, on an ancient, unsteady looking chair sits Maita, the owner and operator of the Wild Cat.
Maita is in his 70s. Thick glasses in wiry frames enlarge his dark eyes. Wisps of slicked-back, grey hair cling to the top of his head and poke out from under his grey and black track jacket, which he tucked into his faded blue jeans.
Maita flicks the ash off his cigarette into an ashtray on an end table topped with foggy glass and wrinkled Playboy magazines.
Maita greets visitors with a genuine warmth. “Yes, hello, it’s good to see you,” he says.
Maita said he bought the Wild Cat from Bill Wilkins. Between about a year and 18 months ago, Maita said the brothel closed.
Maita said he reopened the establishment in early July because of its location.
“The thing is, it’s so far from town, I don’t know what else it could be,” he said. “It’s out in the middle of nowhere here. I don’t know what other purpose it would serve.”
Maita said the building was first built about 25 years ago. The most challenging part of opening the business, he said, was getting properly licensed.
“Because the girls are permissive, I think people think that they can walk into one of these places and they can do whatever they please, it’s the Wild West,” Maita said. “But it’s not the Wild West. The girls have got to go to the doctor, they’ve got to get licensed, they’ve got to get their fingerprints and FBI reports. It’s pretty much a strict business, similar to a casino.”
In addition to typical building and water permits needed to run a business, Maita said everyone connected to the brothel needs to be checked out similarly to the working girls—they need to be “lily white,” Maita said.
Maita said he spent about $5,000 on background checks and permits before he could open the business.
The Wild Cat Ranch itself is out of the way and starting to show its age. Paint peels off the white and gold exterior and Romanesque columns line the outside.
Out back is a long, white trailer, the former home of another bordello. It closed a few years ago and was sold at auction.
A lobby greets perspective patrons as soon as they walk in and two hallways lead off to either side — this is where the girls cut their deals, Maita said.
In the back, through two beaded curtains in what Maita called the VIP room.
The room seems to be covered in white marble. There is a bed with bright red sheets under a mirror. There is also a hot tub surrounded by mirrors, and a closet containing items for acts of extra-marital bliss. Neither the items nor the acts can be described here.
Maita, who described himself as a business man and said he owns several more traditional businesses, doesn’t see any moral or ethical issues with the work done at the brothel.
“You could look at them as being a sexual nurse,” Maita said. “They don’t do anything worse than a nurse does with bedpans and smelling cancer patients, and all of that. I mean, a nurse has a tough way to go too.”
Maita said he thinks he provide an essential service to the men who visit his establishment.
“The girls are easy to get along with. They sort of pamper the men,” he said. “I mean, how many guys are driving down the road in their truck, getting banged around all day, putting up with people cutting in front of them, worried about getting a ticket and everything else—and they come into a place like this and get pampered.”
While Maita said he has no idea what goes on in the bedrooms (“they don’t tell me, and I don’t want to hear it,” he said) he thinks some men are treated better at his brothel than they are by other partners.
“I imagine these girls pamper a man better than, maybe, a long term marriage pampers a man, because they’re getting paid for it and they want to be appreciated,” Maita said. “So they try to please.”