Photo by Jeff Hartman

Photo by Jeff Hartman

barry headshotLas Vegas. Strip clubs. The US sex industry. I’ll be honest. I was intimidated when we decided to make this issue of the magazine.

First of all, there were plenty of logistics to work through. How exactly would we navigate the inevitable adult themes that would emerge? How would we tell real stories without objectifying people? How would give our readers a unique perspective of Las Vegas culture without resorting to all the stereotypes?

OK. Tough, but not impossible. We’d make it work.

What really had me intimidated was the subject matter itself. The US sex industry. For the last few years, we’ve been writing about the global sex industry from all sorts of different angles – Cambodian brothels, Haitian prostitutes, Nepali sex trafficking – but we’ve never brought it home until now.

Somehow, the idea of American strip clubs and prostitution never seemed to be in the same category as the stuff we’ve been learning in developing countries. It just didn’t seem connected to me. That is, until Jeff and Brooke began delving into the philosophy behind the Cupcake Girls, the organization we highlight in this issue. They love on women who have been objectified, lied to, and manipulated, regardless of the choices they’ve made.

Slowly it’s been dawning on me that there really isn’t a difference between the US and global sex industries. Sure, a dancer in a Las Vegas club and a girl being smuggled across the Nepali border seem to be in two completely different worlds. But the motivations behind these industries are the same. Money, power, greed, pleasure, fame…

There is a continuum of injustice that spans the globe, from brothels to strip clubs to Internet pornography to movies to billboards on the side of the road. Sex sells, and I’d be lying if I said it never touched my life.

That’s why this issue intimidated me. Am I really ready to admit my own role in the global sex industry? Are any of us?

This is an important magazine issue for WND. It’s not comfortable. It’s not always easy to read. But Brooke and Jeff have done an amazing job of revealing the powerful hope that is springing up in Las Vegas and (spoiler alert) all over our country.

So jump in, turn the page, and discover with me what God is doing among marginalized women here in our own backyards.

Barry Rodriguez
Founder & Executive Director
World Next Door