Adam & Eve survived obscenity charges and protests to become mainstream

Adam & Eve survived obscenity charges and protests to become mainstream

For years, it was always something – a government raid, obscenity charges, citizen protests. If Adam & Eve was in the news, you could guess the reason: Somebody didn’t like what the adult entertainment company was selling.

Adam & Eve survived obscenity charges and protests to become mainstream
Adam & Eve’s boutique, on South Boulevard, opened seven months ago. It attracts mostly couples and women, say the store’s employees. Lingerie is their best-selling product.

But those were the old days – the 1980s and ’90s. Seven months ago, an Adam & Eve boutique arrived in Charlotte’s South End with an array of pleasure products so high-tech and stylized that you could mistake them for totally different objects – a thumb drive, a lipstick, a surrealistic paperweight. When the South Boulevard store announced its presence on interstate billboards, no one said a word.

Adam & Eve’s journey is improbable but instructive. Examine the evolution of this North Carolina company – from mail-order condom seller to federal obscenity target to purveyor of upscale sex toys – and you’ll see the vast distance America has traveled, sexually speaking, over the past four decades.

Adam & Eve has become mainstream.

In the beginning, Phil Harvey, an idealistic UNC Chapel Hill School of Public Health student, launched a mail-order condom company as part of his graduate thesis. That was in 1970.

Today, Adam & Eve, one of the nation’s largest adult-product companies, promotes its inventory as part of a healthy lifestyle, much like Dr. Oz extols dietary fiber. “Happier couples,” says a sexologist on Adam & Eve’s home shopping show, “are healthier couples.”