AVN Family, Industry Mourns Passing of Tony Lovett

CHATSWORTH, Calif.—AVN Media Network staffers and members of all sectors of the adult industry are expressing their shock and sorrow tonight at the news of the passing of Tony Lovett.

Lovett, former publisher and editor-in-chief of AVN, died in his sleep Sunday, Jan. 26. His wife, Randi, broke the news to friends and colleagues through a Facebook posting Sunday evening.

“I don't know how to do this. I woke up this morning in a world that doesn't make sense anymore. He hated Facebook, and this is hardly the way to share this news. I am so lost. Blessed to have an amazingly supportive family. My beloved passed away early this morning. He was at home, in bed, and asleep. He is loved. He is deeply missed. He will always be remembered. I understand people will want to call me. I can't right now. Please know that I know you all care very much. My family will help me get information out as soon as there is information to be given. I love you, Tony. Always,” she wrote.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter, Ivy.

No other details on his passing, nor funeral details, were immediately available.

Lovettt, who began his career in adult in 1983, came to AVN in 2005 after more than 20 years straddling mainstream and adult careers and in the process wearing as many hats—writer, producer, director, editor, composer, copywriter, creative director, and best-selling author among them. His feature articles appeared in Rolling Stone and Playboy, among others, and he co-authored the cult classic L.A. Bizarro, which went to top the L.A. Times non-fiction bestseller list. The new edition of the book, released in fall 2009, also lingered in the L.A. Times’ Top Ten.

Before joining AVN in 2005, Lovett had made a name for himself—the name Antonio Passolini, in fact, as well as Nigel Crinch-Gibbons, Johnny Jump-Up and Veronica Cinq-Mars among others—as a director of adult and cult films. In the mid-1980s he took over as head of production for VCA Pictures, where he produced and directed many of his films.

Lovett left AVN in November 2010, but he left behind a strong legacy—both through his influence on staffers and his vision in shaping the novelty publication ANB (AVN Novelty Business) and creating the "O" Awards, given to recognize excellence in the pleasure products sector.

“Tony was my publisher when I switched from editor of AVN Online to AVN Novelty Business,” said Sherri L. Shaulis, senior editor of pleasure products for AVN. “There were times he could be a son-of-a-bitch to work for, but I always appreciated his devotion to AVN and the industry. He had such a passion for ANB, the products, the people … it was contagious. He always wanted the best for this industry, and expected it from himself and everyone around him.

“We bonded over all things related to the pleasure product industry, and over all things weird and macabre about Los Angeles and the world,” she continued. “Once I met Tony, I took comfort in the fact that there was someone as weird and strange as me, and that he was just down the hall. Even though he moved on from AVN in 2010 to pursue other creative interests, he was always a presence in the office. He was such a strong and unique personality, and I don’t know how this void will ever be filled.”

Other AVN staffers are also at a loss after receiving the news.

“It's difficult to accurately describe how significant the loss of my mentor is, to me and to the industry,” said Sara Harter, director of sales for AVN, who also worked on ANB with Lovett. “I owe my career to him. I'm thankful to have had many years working right next to him. He was an amazing man who cared deeply about his work, his wife and his daughter. He will be missed very much.”

"Tony was not only one of the best editors we ever had at AVN, but he was a friend going way back to his days at VCA,” said Paul Fishbein, founder of AVN and now head of X3Sixty.com. “I am so shocked and saddened that I am having trouble finding words to describe my feelings. He was a fantastic talent and Darren and I kept in regular contact with him because we had hoped to work together again on some future projects. It's just a sad, sad, sad time."

“Infectious laughter, brilliant mind and on-spot fucking genius at the spur of the moment was Tony and so much more,” said Bon Bon LeBlanc, who not only worked at AVN with Lovett, but knew him years earlier at VCA. “To share holidays and weekends at his house was always full of laughter, the unexpected and more humor than you could ever imagine. He would light up a room even if you were the one walking into it. His spirit in everything he touched was off the charts.

“I was honored to have five minutes in his movie Club Sin," LeBlanc recalled. “I will never forget the hours of laughter from Captain Mongo’s Porno Playhouse. How he spent hours and hours of editing until it was perfect and supposed to be released ‘any day.’ He cared, and that showed in his work. He had the greatest office to walk into at work. And most important, he loved his daughter Ivy and was so proud of her, and I loved to hear him talk about her.”

LeBlanc added, “I am going to miss this amazing person. You will never be forgotten and have inspired and touched the lives of so many people. May you have peace now, my friend. You get to go hang out with Marty and Ed now … I am sure you boys will make some noise. If it wasn’t for Tony, I would have never got the job at AVN. It was on his word alone that I was hired. It was only his word that was needed. I am so grateful to him to this day for that.”

Others throughout the industry shared their memories and experiences of working and playing with the charismatic Lovett.

“I’m just in shock,” Alicia Relles, sales and marketing manager for Je Joue and a close friend of Lovett’s, told AVN. “He was such a dear friend, and I just loved him so much. I can’t even believe this. I’m just so sad for him and Randi and everyone who knew and loved him.”

“Tony was a dear friend of mine for over 20 years,” said Axel Braun. “We met when he was working at VCA and I was shooting camera for my father, and we struck an instant friendship fueled by our common love for movies and pop culture. He literally walked into Russ Hampshire's office and told him he should have me direct, and Russ called me in and gave me my first directing gig. I owe him my entire career, and I reminded him at every chance I had. He was an immensely talented artist, writer and director, but most of all he truly was a sweet, magnificient human being, and his loss leaves me speechless and heartbroken. My thoughts and my most sincere condolences are with his beloved wife and daughter, and my hope is that he is finally at peace, wherever he may be. Ciao, amico mio.”

“Tony was the real deal—a great writer and a wonderful human being,” said Christian Mann, general manager at Evil Angel. “His talents surpassed his success.”

“Tony played a pivotal role in the development and evolution of the industry, and honestly my life and career,” said Anne Hodder, owner of Hodder Media. “But he'd never let us make him feel anything more than just another schlub who likes sandwiches, The Far Side and a good fart joke. Tony Lovett was a one-of-a-kind human, mentor, writer and creator, and his passing is a shocking and deeply saddening loss. I—everyone—will miss him dearly."

“He was one of the most creative, genuine people I've ever known,” said Jenn Ramsey, former senior editor for AVN Novelty Business. “He whittled down and cajoled the adult novelty industry from a diamond in the rough to something much more valuable, to themselves and their customers. Tony, I already miss you.”

Others through the industry took to Facebook, Twitter and more to express their shock at the news and their condolences to his friends and family.

“With heaviest of hearts and through sorrow filled tears, I struggle to write this post in honor of a dear friend,” said friend and director Rob Rotten. “Today I received the news that the world has lost one of the most intelligent, inspirational, gifted, and loving individuals that I have ever known. Tony Lovett was more to me than just a good friend. He was my inspiration, my hope when I needed it most, my mentor, my family… Tony took me in and under his wing when everyone else had turned their backs on me. He believed in me and taught me so much about life, imagination, creativity, and most importantly how to weave them all together. Tony touched the lives of everyone who he came into contact with. I am forever grateful that Tony was my friend and touched my life the way he did. Tony will be forever missed and never forgotten. May he finally be freed from his mortal shackles and rest forever easy my friend.

“RIP Tony Lovett, the most principled, intelligent, and classiest individuals our industry has ever known,” Freddy and Eddy posted on their Facebook page. “We will miss you greatly and our hearts are heavy.”

“Tony Lovett. I just can't tell you how awful it is to lose someone like this,” wrote Susie Bright, well-known author and sex educator. “He was so ridiculously modest people don't even know what he did as a filmmaker, artist, and historian.”

Bright subsequently told AVN the following: "We were friends since the mid-'80s, two esocteric film geeks-of-a-feather talking about porn like Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert. We met in Vegas, back when the adult biz was relegated to a basement at the Sahara.

"It's a great loss to the indie movie business and film history: Tony was a writer, director, producer, art director, soundtrack composer and musician, historian and cherisher—he cherished outlier movie culture.

"Because he was so young and reclusive to take credit, it was impossible to see an IMDB-style listing of everything Tony did. He was a seminal figure in erotic film/video, particularly in the heat of the Meese Commission persecution—our New Wave. Everything you take for granted about adult studio art direction, humor, and sense of sexual aesthetic during that period, that was Tony Lovett. He ran studio production at VCA at its zenith. He wrote his USC film school dissertation on the origins of Swedish Erotica, which has never been equalled. Ronald Reagan, Edwin Meese and the Justice Department tried to put him in jail for a hundred years—and he was always saying, despite all his frustrations, that Russ took the hammer for all of them. It was like a Greek Tragedy. An incredibly gifted musician, writer, artist, a diva and the salt of the earth. This is what you call death by a million cuts."