Dennis Hof, Star of HBO's 'Cathouse' and State Assembly Candidate, Dies at 72
The HBO show followed the lives of workers at Hof's six Nevada brothels.
Dennis Hof, a legal pimp who gained notoriety for an HBO series about his business and who has fashioned himself as a Donald Trump-style Republican candidate for the state Legislature, has died, Nevada authorities said Tuesday.
An employee at Hof's Love Ranch brothel about an hour outside of Las Vegas summoned authorities a little before 11 a.m. Tuesday after Hof was found unresponsive and not breathing, said Nye County Sheriff Lt. David Boruchowitz.
He declined to say where on the property Hof was found, and said people at the business were being questioned.
"Preliminarily, there is no indication of foul play," Boruchowitz said.
Hof, who turned 72 on Sunday, was the Republican candidate this year in a heavily GOP state legislative district. Hof was also a subject of HBO's Cathouse, which documented the lives of workers at his brothels.
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio confirmed he had been among the attendees at a birthday bash for Hof on Monday night and was astounded to hear of his death.
"Boy, that's shocking," Arpaio said.
The former sheriff said Hof was in good spirits when Arpaio left the party around 10 p.m. Monday.
Arpaio, who lost a Senate GOP primary in Arizona in August, said he had taken part in some of Hof's campaign efforts and was asked by Hof to speak at the party. The lawman said he delivered his comments to the crowd, wished Hof well and ate birthday cake.
"The thing I liked about him: He was with Trump and was for the Second Amendment and lower taxes," Arpaio said moments before boarding a plane to Phoenix.
Hof owned a handful of brothels in Nevada, the only state that allows them to legally operate. In 2015, former NBA and reality TV star Lamar Odom was found unconscious at Hof's Love Ranch South brothel in Crystal, Nevada, after he spent three days — and $75,000 — there and used cocaine, employees told 911 dispatchers.
Hof had been celebrating his birthday at a hotel in the rural city of Pahrump that he had said would be attended by porn star Ron Jeremy, rapper and reality television star Flavor Flav and Arpaio, the former six-term sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix. The brothel was temporarily shuttered twice this year by regulators who said Hof had failed to renew licenses and get proper permits for renovations.
About 20 brothels operate in Nevada, mostly in rural areas. The state doesn't publicize how many are open, and most owners keep a much lower profile than Hof.
In addition to his legislative campaign, Hof faced a push to outlaw brothels and had problems with local regulators in the two counties where he runs the licensed bordellos.
Hof had also been accused of sexual assault on at least four occasions. The Nevada Department of Public Safety says it is investigating an allegation made in September but has released few details.
Hof had denied any wrongdoing.
The flamboyant pimp wrote a book titled The Art of the Pimp, a play on Trump's book The Art of the Deal.
Wayne Thorley, the deputy secretary of state for elections, said Hof's name will remain on the ballot. Thorley said ballots with Hof's name have already been printed and mailed to voters but signs will be posted at polling places notifying voters that the candidate has died.
Thorley says that if Hof wins the election in the heavily GOP assembly district, officials in the counties that the district covers will nominate another Republican to fill the vacancy.
Hof was running against Democratic Las Vegas educator Lesia Romanov.
Hof ran for office in 2016 as a Libertarian but lost the race.
This year, he ran as a Republican and earned backing from Trump associate Roger Stone and tax-cut activist Grover Norquist.
He upended Nevada politics this summer when he ousted an incumbent Republican lawmaker in a primary, celebrating at an election night party with "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss.
Hof said the anti-brothel push and regulatory problems he's faced this year were political retribution.