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Porno Flicks Are No-No at IRS Auction of Broke Brothel

November 6, 1990

RENO, Nev. (AP) _ When it comes to selling a brothel, the Internal Revenue Service has a few hang-ups.

Condoms and paintings of bare-breasted women are OK at next week’s tax sale of the Mustang Ranch. Dirty movies are out.

Among the gaudier items to be sold when the auction of the 100-room bordello and its contents begins Nov. 13 are teddy bears, pajamas, sequined and feathered gowns and pocket-sized ceramic liquor bottles decorated with naked women.

What’s not for sale at America’s best known legal brothel is a small collection of porno flicks that were found in the purple, mirror-walled Orgy Room when the IRS seized the property Sept. 21 for $13 million in back taxes owed by Joe and Sally Conforte.

″The IRS can’t sell anything illegal,″ said Richard Flakus, IRS chief collection agent in Nevada.

The defunct house of ill repute has sparked interest for use as a nursing home, a halfway house and a girls’ reform school, said Dierdre Pagni, an IRS manager.

″A religious group expressed an interest as well,″ she said, declining to give details.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee had hoped to operate the bordello and pay off its debts but came up against licensing and cash flow problems, and the IRS padlocked the place before it could reopen. It had operated at a legal bawdy house since 1971. Last month, county commissioners revoked its permit.

The 50 or so ladies of the night who worked there since the IRS moved in have gone on to other ventures.

The IRS hopes to earn at least $1.8 million when the property falls under the auctioneer’s gavel.

″We highly encourage the neighborhood yard sale enthusiast to come out and make a bid on anything they may want,″ Ms. Pagni said, as she led reporters on a tour Monday.

The tour did not include a glimpse of Conforte’s Rolodex, which Ms. Pagni quickly snatched from a reporter’s glance. The modern version of the former owner’s little black book is not for sale.

The beds won’t be sold individually. They are attached to the floor and linked to other parts of the place via buzzers.

But for those who want a little of Mustang’s colorful history, there are signs posting service charges, Mustang Ranch matchbooks and complimentary coupons.

There are practical items. Like 22 fire extinguishers and nine bottles of emergency oxygen that were kept on the premises.

Also in the catalog is a music box from the suite used by the bordello manager. It plays ″Somewhere My Love.″ The jukebox in the lobby will be sold as is, with tunes such as ″Make You Sweat″ and ″Whip Appeal.″

Copies of personalized license plates on sale would make Conforte cringe. The plates read ″Pimp,″ a word Conforte despises. Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution, and that makes Conforte a legitimate businessman.

Whoever purchases the building may want to redecorate. The hodgepodge decor emphasizes black, purple, pink, red and orange.

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