Bella's Hacienda Offers Help to NYC's Prostitution Crisis

WELLS, Nev.Madam Bella Cummins, the owner of Bella's Hacienda, a legal brothel in Northeast Nevada, is offering assistance to New York legislators in addressing New York City's mounting challenges with prostitution. In a recent letter to state assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, whose district faces significant difficulties related to prostitution, Cummins offered her expertise in assisting the state with a potential transition from a system of criminalization to a legalized and regulated prostitution model.

Cummins said, "Certain communities in New York City, particularly portions of Queens, are reportedly rife with unregulated prostitution, and the community chaos that comes with it, as a result of an influx of marginalized individuals in need of money and a lax attitude toward prostitution from law enforcement. This pressing issue demands immediate attention through comprehensive legislative measures that prioritize the well-being and safety of sex workers, while also safeguarding the welfare and reputation of the community."

The 74-year-old Cummins is the longest-serving living female legal brothel owner in the United States and a former resident of New York, believes that Nevada's status as the only state that has successfully legalized prostitution deserves more consideration from states struggling with prostitution legislation, such as New York.

Cummins added, "For over 50 years, Nevada has proven that regulating prostitution in designated counties has overwhelmingly benefitted those communities by keeping sex workers off the streets and providing safe places where licensed courtesans can prosperously practice their trade, far from schools, churches, and other community areas frequented by families and children. Furthermore, Nevada's legal brothel system mandates STD testing for sex workers, along with FBI background checks for both sex workers and brothel owners. This system ensures that only consenting adults are involved in the industry, and all stakeholders operate within the bounds of the law."

Cummins chose to approach assemblywoman Cruz because some of the challenges related to prostitution occur near her district, and Cruz has shown a willingness to support legislation that treats sex work differently in the eyes of the law.

Cummins continued, "When I read about the unregulated brothels popping up unchallenged in New York City areas like Corona and Jackson Heights, it becomes clear to me that the solution is neither to allow sex work to spiral out of control nor to punish sex workers and sex buyers, but to create areas where adult entertainment can take place safely. I feel Assemblywoman Cruz is someone that may be open to such ideas."

"I’ve been in the legal prostitution business for nearly 40 years. I have guided Nevada’s time-tested sex work system through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and the COVID shutdowns of the 2020s. I’ve remained resolute when anti-sex work groups attempted to ban legal brothels to no avail, as Nevada citizens consistently voted to keep our brothels open and our sex workers legally employed. I’ve seen enough to know that the solution for New York, and every state in the union, is to legalize and destigmatize sex work. I possess the necessary qualifications and expertise to assist The Empire State in effectively accomplishing this crucial objective," said Cummins.

In the early 1970s, Nevada legalized prostitution in the form of regulated brothels in a majority of counties throughout the state.

Cummins’ letter to assemblywoman Cruz may be accessed here.

A recent opinion piece written by Cummins about Nevada’s sex work model can also be viewed here.

Cummins also founded and funds the Onesta Foundation, an action group with a mission to support Nevada sex workers and advocate for prostitution legalization throughout the United States. More on the Onesta Foundation can be found here