ABC's Push, Nevada Gets Dose of Reality in Pahrump
PAHRUMP, NV -- ABC's "Push, Nevada" debuted Thursday night, and the critics are buzzing about this Ben Affleck, Sean Bailey produced noir series. "Twin Peaks with tumbleweeds and a million dollar payout," is one way to describe the stylish show, without doing it a disservice.
You know the premise if you watched the one-hour preview Tuesday night: straight-laced IRS agent Jim Prufrock receives a misdirected fax containing the doctored ledger of a casino in an out-of-the-way town named Push. Prufrock, played quite capably by actor Derek Cecil, goes in search of the mysterious town and the perpetrator of the clumsy accounting mistake, all in the name of protecting the American taxpayers from bottom-sucking scum.
Thing is, Push is not your run-of-the-mill small town. Its residents despise strangers, prices for goods and services are way too low, and there's a slow dance bar where one can pick up gorgeous women by snaring a corsage from the hostess.
For you, the viewer, all of this becomes even more intriguing considering that there is a million dollar payout for the couch potato who follows the clues and solves the mystery of the missing cash.
An epic mystery is brewing, no doubt. But we are on to you, Push, Nevada. We predict that agent Prufrock will occasionally get bored in his quest to uncover the truth, and will need to replenish his soul with lots of golf and brothels. Hey, he is a 29-year-old divorced male with some semblance of disposable income. As luck, or fate, would have it, Pahrump, Nevada is just tumbleweed's role away.
Move Over Push, Here Comes Pahrump
Las Vegas has never pretended to be the nation's capital of morality. That's why if you drive just an hour outside of "Sin City" you'll find the golf vacation that wives from Montreal to Monterrey fear like none other.
Pahrump isn't home to much, but it does lay claim to two golf courses, a Vegas-style casino and hotel, and a smattering of old fashioned brothels. Prostitution is not legal in the city of Las Vegas. But drive just outside the city limits and into adjacent Nye County and it's as permissible as stop-turn-right-on-red.
Surely these hedonistic temptations will eventually garner a visit from Jim Prufrock.
"I always hear that wives don't want their husbands to come out here, and it's not because they don't want them playing our golf courses," says Robert Rowlett, assistant head professional at Willow Creek Golf Club. "This town is not shy about the brothels. They advertise them on a couple of billboards in town, and everyone speaks pretty freely about them."
The "brothels" in this case are the infamous Chicken Ranch, Sheri's Ranch, and the Cherry Patch. The original Chicken Ranch was an illegal "bordello" established in 1905 in La Grange, Texas. It earned its namesake during the Great Depression by accepting chickens in lieu of cash and was actually regarded by locals as a "community service."
The brothel remained open until Houston-based television reporter Marvin Zindler successfully crusaded for its closure in 1973. In 1976, ex-trucker Walter Plankinton founded a new Chicken Ranch on the outskirts of Pahrump. After two false starts - the first when the business was forced to relocate due to legal technicalities, and second when it was burned to the ground by arsonists-- the Chicken Ranch reopened permanently.
In 1982, a San Francisco financier purchased the Chicken Ranch for $1 million, hiring an ex-schoolteacher friend as manager, and quickly establishing a reputation for "impeccable business practices and fair treatment of the ladies."
Sheri's Ranch has a reputation as being a bit more elegant than the Chicken Ranch, while the Cherry Patch is reportedly "all about value."
But let's not forget that there is plenty of good, clean fun to be had in Pahrump, as well.
"I think we have a very good golf course here at a very reasonable price," says Rowlett. "We have a golf package with the Golden Nugget, and we receive about 40 percent of our play from Las Vegas. This is a blue collar town, so most of the residents are gamblers, not golfers."
You can test your mettle at Willow Creek's 7,025 yards of championship golf for under $30 in the summer months, and around $60 in the winter. Not bad considering that comparable Vegas courses could run you over $100.
Being a resort style course, the layout is extremely player friendly with wide, flat fairways and generous, gently sloping greens. The course gets its name from the groves of willow trees that are perched along the banks of its many ponds.
"I think this course is unlike most of the courses in Las Vegas," Rowlett says. "It will not beat you up with target style golf, and you should be able to score here."
Pahrump will see the addition of its second course within the next few months - the Lakeview Executive Course that Rowlett says will feature an interesting mix of tough par 3's and long par 4's.
Rowlett is the first to admit that Pahrump is hardly a golfing destination, but taking into consideration all that it has to offer, the not so sleepy town just 40 minutes from "the Strip" garners its fair share of attention.
"Our reputation around here isn't all about golf, we know that," Rowlett says. "But with the Golden Nugget coming on line and promoting its golf packages and the new Lake View Course, we'll get some more players out here."
Certainly, a brothel based golf package might lure a few "gentlemen" out to Pahrump. "We haven't considered that yet," Rowlett says chuckling. "Don't count on that one."
Want to Play?
Willow Creek Championship Golf Course 1500 S Red Butte Street Pahrump, NV 89048
Executive Golf Course 1471 E Mt. Charleston Drive South Pahrump, NV 89048
Where to Stay
Saddle West Hotel and Casino 1220 South Highway 160
'Push, Nevada' Clues
Miss the preview? Here's a sampling of clues LasVegasGolf.com's crack reporters uncovered:
Numbers, numbers everywhere. The fax Prufrock gets contains a time and a toll free number. The town's population and elevation contain the numbers 0-1-2-3. The Push Times actually has a website at www.pushtimes.com. The residents of Push continually remind Prufrock that it only takes "four" hours for a man to die in the heat of the desert. The agent's motel room appears to change during the preview episode.
September 19, 2002