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August 15, 2008

What's a Nice Girl Like Brooke Doing at the Bunny Ranch?

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Tears stand in Bernie's round eyes as he searches the corners of Moline's Applebee's for a plausible post-hooker future for Brooke. He can't imagine her being satisfied with any kind of "normal job after doing such exciting stuff."

Deb adds that Brooke really can't come back to Illinois. This being the Midwest, no one actually ever says anything about Brooke being a hooker, but around town Deb often gets "the look," which she performs for me. It is the exact expression of the farmer couple in Grant Wood's painting American Gothic.

"Who would be Brooke's friends?" Deb asks. "Who would be her boyfriend?"

Back in her bedroom at the BunnyRanch, Brooke dusts her dildo collection. She keeps her special glass ones in a cloth pouch so they don't get cracked. She tells me how they are particularly "lovely" toys because you can heat and cool them, but you have to be very careful because glass doesn't give like silicone or rubber.

I ask Brooke where she wants to be in five years.

Holding a neon pink dildo, she laughs and says, "Not here." Later, on the patio in the noonday desert sun, we are still contemplating her future. Big Daddy tells me that Tyra Banks said Brooke could be a model.

Brooke seems to have watched enough America's Next Top Model to know that at 27, she's already too old.

But maybe, well, she would like to be on regular — "not porn" — television. Maybe she could be a sexpert for the E! channel, or have a talk show.

We are brainstorming people who could hook her up with an agent when an extremely cute guy (a Jake Gyllenhaal look-alike, I swear) saunters up in Levi's 501s. Brooke asks if he'd like to meet the ladies. He would, he says, and while she rings the bell, he and I talk about how the Nevada desert really looks like the bottom of an ancient lake bed, which it is. The hookers line up and say their names, and he picks Brooke. They go to her room for 45 minutes; then he comes out and waves good-bye to me.

Ten minutes later, Brooke appears in a fresh bra-and-panties set — teal with yellow lace. I want to get back to planning her future, but — of all things — an ice-cream truck rumbles down the Ranch's driveway. Brooke jumps up. In her Lucite stilettos, she picks her way to the window. She orders a Firecracker Popsicle and heads down a road that leads to an old Pony Express stop; beyond it, the highway connects to Reno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Licking her pop, Brooke looks like a child — possibly a dangerously lost one. The landscape surrounding her is harsh, and civilization is far off. Brooke turns for a moment and does something obscene-looking with her Popsicle. She laughs, turns back around. Damn, I think, only one thing is for sure in this story — Brooke is no longer like everyone else.

Amanda Robb is a contributing writer to O, The Oprah Magazine. She's currently working on a book about the sexual abstinence movement.

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