HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — Adam & Eve founder Phil Harvey reportedly passed away late last night, Dec. 2.
News of the adult industry pioneer’s death was disclosed via an email from Harvey’s family planning organization DKT International, which provides sexual health products and services to over 90 countries in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East.
This year, Adam & Eve celebrated its 50th anniversary as "the nation’s preeminent provider of pleasure products." In an announcement in honor of the retail chain’s latest milestone, the company paid tribute to its founder.
“Phil Harvey never intended to create America’s largest adult toy empire,” the company said. “What began as his master’s thesis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1969 — the selling of condoms by mail — quickly evolved into the nation’s No. 1 adult products company that is known today as Adam & Eve. Today, Adam & Eve is the nation’s preeminent provider of pleasure products, with a broad range of sex-positive items, including sex toys, vibrators, lingerie, and, yes, condoms.
“In addition, Adam & Eve Founder and President Phil Harvey uses his share of the company’s profits to help fund DKT International," the company said. “Rated as one of the best international family planning and AIDS prevention organizations in the world, DKT’s family planning programs provide accessible, affordable birth control products and services to millions of couples, making it possible to prevent HIV infections and assist with family planning. The efforts made by DKT in Africa, Asia and Latin America help improve family health, lower infant and maternal mortality and improve prosperity.”
Earlier this year, Harvey sat down for a rare career-spanning interview by Ernest Greene for XBIZ Premiere magazine; click here to read it.
Following the news of Harvey's passing, industry friends, colleagues and those he inspired shared their remembrances.
Industry vet Al Bloom reflected on his friendship with Harvey, which surpassed four decades.
"Our industry has lost a true giant today, and it pains me greatly," he said. "I send my sincere condolences to his family and all who had the honor of working with him."
Bloom explained how Harvey came through to provide assistance and inspiration when it was needed.
"In 2002, I was given a grim prognosis of esophageal cancer," he said. "My best hope for beating it was life-saving surgery at USC University Hospital by a world-renowned surgeon. At the same time, the FSC, with donated space at my office, was floundering with little support and no funds to go on. Before I went on leave, I called Phil Harvey and asked for his help to save the FSC by coming to California and speaking to industry leaders at a meeting. Phil said he would be honored to help. Since every industry company either was doing business with PHE or wanted to, the turnout was exceptional and membership in FSC skyrocketed. FSC was saved and is still going strong to this day, and Phil, my good friend, stepped in when his help was needed.
"Over the years, Phil and I shared the stage at many different industry functions. I have never met such a gentle soul who was laser-focused on protecting our freedoms. He will be sorely missed."
ECN director of special projects Chad Jenny shared his thoughts on Harvey's legacy.
“Few of us can say we will leave our mark on this world for the betterment of future generations," Jenny said. "Phil can because that’s exactly what he did. He created one of the most iconic brands in our industry. He forever changed how the first amendment will be interpreted in this country and fought for the rights of all people. His philanthropic work changed the lives of thousands of people creating a better present and future all over the world. He truly was an icon and one of the good ones, maybe the best. He will be dearly missed but his accomplishments will be celebrated throughout the annals of time. A legacy for which we should all strive.”
Christopher Scharff, the former CEO of DG Brands, said, "Phil Harvey was a true pioneer, a hard-driving entrepreneur and businessman and a true gentleman. He was a man for all seasons."
CalExotics founder and CEO Susan Colvin called Harvey "talented, kind and generous to his employees, vendors and foundations."
"One of the best memories I have with Phil was a fantastic dinner in Las Vegas about 25 years ago," she recalled. "It was rare to have an intimate dinner with Phil, making it even more memorable. Phil, Mary Gates, my father, stepmother and I had the most enjoyable time together. Phil was so enthralled that my father and stepmother were well-known scientists; they talked for hours. Phil also shared his passion for his foundations. It was so incredible to hear about all the charitable work Phil was involved with. Phil was a remarkable person, and I have always been amazed at the time and effort he put into his foundations. I am thankful for his compassion, support and all of the work he has done to help make our world a better place. My deepest condolences are with Phil’s family, friends and everyone at Adam & Eve."
Nasstoys President Elliot Schwartz, another pleasure products industry pioneer, also shared memories.
“I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Phil on a few occasions over the years," he said. "Phil was an entrepreneur, a risk-taker, a philanthropist and an unshakable defender of freedom. Phil helped pioneer the way for many things and causes in the industry and beyond, helping mold it into what we know today. Phil will be greatly missed, but his legacy and mark he has made in the industry will live forever.”
Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen reflected on her relationship with the Adam & Eve brand and her admiration of Harvey.
"I go way back with Adam & Eve because I used to be on their mailing list in the late '70s or early '80s," she said. "Remember the era of the double envelope? When I joined the staff of Good Vibrations in 1990 and began speaking on the company's behalf to the press, I was sometimes met with journalists who only took us seriously because we were woman-owned. I always told those people about Phil Harvey! He was a sex-positive activist before we used that term, honestly, and proof that what's important is a focus on social change, sexual health — all the things that led him into this field and made him such a force. I encouraged CatalystCon founder Dee Dennis to include Phil in the speakers' series of longtime sex community personalities that she put together because I want this generation of activists to know that these values go way back. Yes, many strides have been made relatively recently. But the path back, our history, should be known by all of us. Rest in peace, Phil, you truly made a difference."
Metro's Ken Guarino said, "Phil Harvey was a creative trendsetter in the industry who’s ideas were often years ahead of their time. Our condolences to his family."
Perfect Fit CEO Stephen Callow said that although he'd never met Harvey, he always respected his accomplishments and innovation.
"When his company started marketing one of my first products, some 15 years ago, I was fortunate enough to have a tour of some of their facilities," he said. "Immediately, I was struck with the massive technology infrastructure they had invested in building for their B2C experience and operations. Coming from a technology consultancy, I immediately recognized that he had made enormous investments in state-of-the-art technology of the time and that really resonated with me. I knew this was a serious company and they knew how to build a big business. I also deduced that IBM considered them a major business because the technology they had was the same technology we would specify to major companies with big bucks to spend on integration and customizations. I knew that Mr. Harvey had taken a small, generally un-respected industry and successfully taken it to the big leagues. It is, no doubt a huge loss to our industry, and I am very grateful for the business he has given us, and the benchmarks he set along his long and incredible journey in our industry. Rest in peace."
Fantasy Lingerie East Coast rep Scott Lipkin expressed his admiration for Phil Harvey as an industry pioneer.
"Phil Harvey is a true legend of his time," he said. "He is one of the founding fathers of our industry, and as someone who third generation in this industry, I can't thank Phil enough for all his inspiring work and accomplishments. Phil left a legacy that will last forever and inspire generations to come."