Cover Story: Move Over Hugh Hefner

The story of one man and his 14,000 sisters

Feb 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm
Joe Lamb

Chris Cicchinelli

Name/Organization: Chris Cicchinelli, President of Pure Romance

Years as President: Now in third year

How did you get the position: Appointed by mother, company founder Patty Brisben, after he had four years running company operations

Duties: Overseeing the company's day-to-day operations, including a management staff of 12 and 96 employees at the Loveland-based facility, while serving as a resource for the 14,000 contract employees who host the in-home parties that serve as the main distribution vehicle for Pure Romance products. Next task: breaking into the European market.

Salary: Paid position, but declined to provide salary. ("I get paid in product," Cicchinelli says.)

Trusted second in command: Josh Ephron, Director of Operations

How many people do you boss around: 96 staff, a management team of 12 and 14,000 consultants

President Bush gets "Hail to the Chief" played when he walks in a room; if your position had a ceremonial song attached to it, what would it be: "Let's Get It Started" by Black Eyed Peas

A pink tie and heart cufflinks might sound like reasonable accessories for Valentine's Day, but they're a mainstay in Chris Cicchinelli's wardrobe. As the President of Pure Romance, an "in-home party company which offers an exclusive line of heighteners, lubricants and bedroom accessories for relationship enhancement," he thinks everything he does ought to reflect the female-centric company started by his mother in 1993.

"We used to be the hush-hush, never talked about, 'Have you been to one of those parties?' " Cicchinelli says. "And now it's like, 'Hey you been to a Pure Romance party? I laughed, I had so much fun!

You have to go to one.' People feel comfortable."

Education and sexual pleasure are the cornerstones of the family-owned business, and Cicchinelli says he loves leading a company with such a positive focus.

"I think the perk of being a president is seeing your dreams come to life," he says. "You get to see that you make a difference in someone's life. I have a supportive boss, and I have a great family."

Cicchinelli likes the fact that his mom is the CEO and his brothers are learning the business from the ground up. The travel arrangements aren't bad either.

"I look like Hugh Hefner coming out of every limo," he says. "Hugh has nothing on me — he travels with three women, I travel with 70 everywhere I go."

How does his wife feel about all of this?

"My wife is very, very secure," Cicchinelli says. "I think she's still with me because of the products."

He laughs before continuing. "I couldn't ask for a better partner. She never worries when my phone rings at 2 o'clock in the morning and it's another woman. She's like, 'Which consultant is calling you?' I take 250 to 300 calls a day from our consultants all over the country, probably 150 to 200 e-mails a day every day."

Likening himself to Mel Gibson's character in the film What Women Want, Cicchinelli says the secret is what Gibson learned.

"The number 1 thing I do is what a lot of males don't do," he says. "I listen."

He hears a lot, including threats from state legislators who try to limit the sale and distribution of sex toys. One of the more recent failed attempts came from State Rep. G. Ralph Davenport Jr. of North Carolina (see "Lubricants Are a Blessing, Not a Crime," issue of May 31, 2005).

"People are starting to see that they're hypocritical when they're trying to pass these kinds of laws," Cicchinelli says of elected officials. "It's amazing how hypocritical our government is to think that these things are going to hurt somebody or that somebody whose using these products can't have self-pleasure.

"We want some spark in our relationships. Do you think women in the '50s were happy because they stayed home all day and had a Tom Collins ready for their husband when he got home? No."

A decidedly modern twist to this company is that no topic of conversation is off-limits.

"I don't think you could ever have a sexual harassment case here because we talk about everything from foreplay and what women want in bed to what men want," Cicchinelli says. "Some of our best meetings are when we're naming our products."

Picking up a pale blue vibrator, Cicchinelli describes an exchange that occurs while staffers brainstorm name ideas. "We say, 'This looks like a Bob.' Well, what's a Bob? Battery Operated Boyfriend."

Picking up a hot-pink vibrator, he continues: "Hal. 'This looks like Have A Lover.' We sit there for hours cracking ourselves up."

Cicchinelli says his job is like working with 14,000 sisters, and he wouldn't change a thing.

"I never thought I'd like it as much as I do," he says. "I thought I wanted the boys club but what I got was the girls club, and I love it."

For more information about the company, visit