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December 18, 2014

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Suit against Sunset Thomas offers new wrinkle in the oldest profession

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Leila Navidi

Adult star Sunset Thomas at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo 2012 inside the Hard Rock Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.

There are few “firsts” left in the world’s oldest profession, but never before has Sunset Thomas experienced this:

She is being sued for not having sex.

Thomas is one of the world’s most famous prostitutes as a onetime cast member of the HBO series “Cathouse,” the documentary series filmed at Moonlight Bunny Ranch near Carson City. Thomas also has been a popular figure at the annual AVN/AEE convention in Las Vegas and was a porn star featured in at least 250 adult movies before entering into retirement from film work about five years ago.

But Thomas, a Las Vegas resident, continues to provide services at the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump, where she signed on as the star among working girls at the ranch in the fall of 2011. The brothel sits about 45 miles west of Las Vegas in Nye County, where prostitution is still legal.

For 41-year-old Thomas, business at the brothel was brisk and turbulence-free until last month. On May 31, a frequent client of Thomas’s filed a small-claims complaint in Las Vegas Township Justice Court seeking to recoup $2,200 for services he alleges were not rendered at the Chicken Ranch.

Court documents identify the plaintiff as Robert Proffitt of Las Vegas, who claims that Thomas refused him sexual intercourse on two occasions. Proffitt claims that amounts to a breach of a verbal contract between the two.

Thomas and her husband/agent, Kent Wallace, made an appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court on Monday morning to answer the complaint. Both sides are now awaiting a court date to resolve the matter. As the sole defendant in the case, Thomas’s name is also listed as “Diane Fowler,” her given name, and “Diane Hof,” the name she legally adopted while she was the girlfriend of Moonlight Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof during the “Cathouse” series.

In the court filing, Proffitt says Thomas twice refused agreed-upon sexual services during his visits to the ranch, alleging that Thomas had been drinking on both occasions. According to Proffitt’s written account, the first alleged rejection was because Thomas “got physical and upset at me for not wanting to enter into a threesome with her friend.”

The second rejection was allegedly because Proffitt had told Thomas he was tired of hearing about how much Thomas cared about him and “wanted to tell me that she loved me but she couldn’t because of her job.” He claims Thomas then refused to have sex with him.

Three weeks prior to the filing of the complaint, a certified letter dated May 10 was delivered to Thomas and Wallace, bearing the signature of Proffitt and outlining the demand for payment of the $2,200. The dates specified are April 19 and May 8. Proffitt claims he paid $1,200 on April 19 and $1,000 on May 8.

Thomas denies all of the charges in the complaint. During a phone conversation Monday, she said: “This is the craziest thing ever. … I have never refused sex with my clients. Never, ever. That’s not me. Never.”

Proffitt, reached by phone Monday, said he filed the suit simply because he is in the right and Thomas is in the wrong.

“If you take this as any business transaction, if you were to pay for a refrigerator at J.C. Penney and you were not delivered the refrigerator, you would want your money back,” Proffitt said. “I tried to work this out between her and I and was not able to, so now we are in court.”

On Saturday afternoon, Judy Neal, manager of the Chicken Ranch, described Proffitt as “very unique” and someone who had become “obsessed” with Thomas. Thomas estimates she has seen Proffitt at the Chicken Ranch 18 or 19 times, meaning that the financial outlay in his visits to Thomas approached $20,000. She describes him as a lovelorn client who simply got too close after making multiple visits to her at the brothel.

Proffitt said he did send dozens of text messages to Thomas out of frustration that the matter could not be resolved out of court. Thomas furnished about 70 messages to me, and Proffitt acknowledged they came from him. He also claims Thomas called him about 100 times and did not want her conversations with him to be in text, to avoid putting her thoughts down in writing.

“I didn’t want to have to do this,” said Proffitt, who was divorced in January after a 26-year marriage and says he has never slept with any woman other than his wife prior to finding Thomas on an online chat back in November, when he and his wife were separated. That’s when the visits to her at the Chicken Ranch began, he said.

Proffitt said he is seeking an apology, foremost, from Thomas.

“I would take less money if she would just say she’s sorry,” Proffitt said. “I want the ‘sorry’ more than anything.”

Thomas said she owed no such apology.

“It got to be nerve-wracking,” she said. “I got to be scared, afraid, like I was being stalked.”

Wallace added: “The point of what Sunset does it to create an illusion of intimacy. It’s not just wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. But this person took it way too far. He proposed marriage and bought her gifts like an iPod and iPad. He spent thousands of dollars on her.”

Proffitt said he did give Thomas those gifts as a birthday present but never proposed.

The string of text messages sent by Proffitt to Thomas covers several days in late May and early June. Taken at face value, the messages indicate a one-sided correspondence from a person whose frustration was mounting for lack of response. One reads: “You can’t love someone who’s (sic) love is for sale!” Another: “U r going to miss me and its (sic) all your fault.” And, “I will be the poor victim of a whore … let’s see who wins.”

Several messages threaten the sort of legal action filed on May 31. Asked why she would share her personal phone number with any customer, Thomas says she does occasionally engage in correspondence with her “guys” so she can coordinate visits to the ranch.

The initial dispute between the two surfaced in April, with Proffitt — who is 6-foot-8 — leaping the fence ringing the Chicken Ranch on his way off the property. In late May, Thomas was separated from her phone for two days while working a party at the ranch, which is the point where she says the relationship between her and Proffitt became disconcerting. She says she is still working select dates at the Chicken Ranch and has never had a complaint in her years in the business, let alone been taken to court.

“I love my life and my husband,” she said. “If someone wants to see me 18 or 19 times, that’s fine. But you have to know when to lay off and not be so strong. I have a personal life, too, and I have to keep them separate.”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow Kats With The Dish at twitter.com/KatsWithTheDish.

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