Spartacus Founder ‘Big Al’ Peterson Dies

PORTLAND, Ore.—“Big Al” Peterson, founder of Spartacus Leathers, died May 3, at the age of 85. Spartacus issued the following statement:

“Big Al” Peterson, the man who built Spartacus Leathers from the ground up, passed away surrounded by friends and family Friday, May 3, at the age of 85. The founder of Spartacus, Big Al was a pioneer in the BDSM community. His legacy in the adult industry and commitment to providing handcrafted products made from quality materials has made Spartacus the industry leader.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1928, Big Al immigrated to the United States by boat in 1953 with less than $200 in his pocket. He held his first job at an adult store while completing his master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Indiana. Eventually, the aging store owner passed his business on to Big Al, who was likeable and a hard worker.

Under his ownership, the business saw immense success, and Big Al eventually sold it and moved to San Francisco. After a brief foray into the field of highway construction, he began opening adult novelty businesses, eventually owning stores and video arcades everywhere from Hawaii to Chicago.

Big Al moved to Portland, Ore., in the early 1970s, and lived there for the remainder of his life. Upon settling, he quickly opened several adult stores called Hard Times, which became a very successful Northwest chain. Throughout the years, he opened many other businesses, including restaurants and cafes, and grocery and liquor stores.

A desire to pursue a business in the BDSM industry led Big Al to found Spartacus in 1987. A visionary pioneer of the BDSM product industry, he expanded the business quickly, producing a full line of bondage gear.

Big Al changed the lives of many. On numerous occasions, he provided the opportunity and funding for others to open their own fledgling businesses. He has welcomed hundreds of people into the Spartacus family, and is a friend to all in the adult industry. He is survived by his wife Lynda, three children, two stepchildren, and five grandchildren.

Big Al will be missed by all of us in the adult industry, especially his family here at Spartacus. His pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit will live on in the adult industry.