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A visit to Adam & Eve's happy wonderland of sex toys

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However, when the feds descended upon Adam & Eve, Harvey fought back. He contended that the feds were illegally using the law to shut down presumptively protected speech, which he argued was un-Constitutional and in violation of the First Amendment. What ensued was an eight-year legal battle, during which time Harvey sued the Department of Justice, accusing the government of abusing its power by using the multi-jurisdictional approach to prosecute obscenity cases. The case finally ended in 1994 when Harvey agreed to drop the civil suit and pleaded guilty to one charge of violating a postal regulation. (Harvey wrote a book about the debacle called The Government Vs. Erotica.)

It's noteworthy that Adam & Eve experienced some of its most dramatic growth during its protracted legal battle. In 1994, having outgrown his old location in Carrboro, Harvey decided to move the company to the Orange County seat of Hillsborough, but not without yet another fight.

"A group of ministers, most not even from Hillsborough, launched this tremendous opposition, and they had several town meetings and created all kinds of controversy," Harvey says. "We had a few knockdown drag-out altercations, but there was no legal way they could prevent us from putting up this building.

"This is a very good example of how communities and counties can be so vastly different even when they're next door to each other," Harvey continues. "NC is not homogeneous in any way. Chapel Hill is one of the most liberal communities in the US in terms of acceptance of gays and tolerance of alternative lifestyles, whereas nearby Alamance County is almost the exact opposite."

I ask him if he's run into any more opposition in recent years with a conservative Republican once again in the White House.

"The climate has changed," he says. "Ashcroft has certainly demonstrated his willingness to put aside the war on terror and prosecute people like those folks in Oakland who are in a Cannabis Cooperative and are doing nothing but growing medical marijuana for sick people," he says. "He's even using FBI resources to go after people who sell paraphernalia. They put Chong (of Cheech and Chong) in jail for selling pipes, for God's sakes."

Despite the political climate, Harvey says that most of the controversy and opposition has died down. In fact, in Orange County, Adam & Eve is now considered a great corporate citizen. "The employees of this company are very active in community service and charity work," Harvey says. "A very significant portion of the people who live in this area have worked for us at one time or another. So we have wonderful PR just from former employees."

Harvey says there is also a unique esprit de corps among Adam & Eve's 350 or so employees. "We all share what I call the "What do you tell your mother' syndrome. That's something everyone here has to deal with in their own way. We understand what everyone else is going through; dealing with the same issues makes us a little more cohesive."

And I'll be darned if he isn't right. During my first pass through the building, I figured I must have encountered some unusually chipper and friendly folks by chance. But after my interview with Harvey, Zvolerin escorts me through the rest of the building, and it was more of the same -- whether they were marketing personnel, website designers, call center employees or warehouse workers, everyone seemed remarkably happy and convivial. Moreover, I noticed that the mostly 20-something work force was uncannily and equally divided among blacks and whites and men and women, and there was an unmistakable feeling of community and openness. It was like one big, happy, sex toy-selling melting pot.

With my day at Adam & Eve unfortunately drawing to an end, Harvey escorts me outside to my car. He walks a little slumped over, wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect his balding head from the afternoon sun, and starts talking about how his company has been important in "raising the standards for sexually explicit materials." He mentions this while displaying for the first time that day what can almost be described as emotion. "Every product we sell is carefully reviewed by sex therapists, educators and psychologists and we eliminate anything that might be harmful or misleading. We're all about keeping things "sex positive.'" And with that, the most unlikely spokesperson for sex since Dr. Ruth bids me adieu and shuffles back inside his adult toy utopian empire. I cast longing glances in my rearview mirror as I sadly drive away, back to the real world.


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