Paul and Eve Imagine, owners of sex shop/art gallery

Paul Imagine (left) and wife Eve Imagine sell sex-positive toys in their Midtown shop.

Paul Imagine (left) and wife Eve Imagine sell sex-positive toys in their Midtown shop.

PHOTO by kevin cortopassi

Visit Autonomous Love at 2419 J Street. Learn more at and

Artist Paul Imagine has long been a sex toy aficionado. That’s why it made sense for the poster artist to open a shop with the help of wife Eve Imagine that combines his two favorite things: sex and art. The resulting boutique, Autonomous Love, is a well-lit, clean place that, at first glance, looks more like a candy shop than a spot to explore vibrators, dildos and organic lubes as well as band art, fliers and T-shirts. But that’s exactly what it is. The couple chatted with SN&R about the shop, which opened last October, and what it means to be sex-positive.

Why sex toys?

Paul Imagine: I always wanted to open something with my art, like an art gallery—but I realized that art doesn’t make money.

And sex does.

Paul: Hopefully!

Eve: We have always enjoyed and been totally inspired by and loved Good Vibrations and She Bop in Portland. I think it just seems like it’s part of our lifestyle to go in there and be stoked to see sex-positive, feminist [toys]. And Paul, specifically, would take a road trip and come home with a new fancy sex toy.

Paul: I would do art shows in Seattle and Portland, so I’d stop in Portland at She Bop.

So, a little souvenir of your trip …

Paul: If I made money at the art show.

Eve: And over the years these things have just been getting more and more beautiful. They look like art and the silicone is so soft. They’re just fun. It’s also just this whole community-ish, sex-positive-ish thing. For me it’s always been about the community for it and for Paul it’s always been about …

The art?

Eve: Well, no, the sex. Well, the sex and the art. It’s a hobby for him, it’s fun.

Paul: It’s my two loves. I’ve always wanted to do something with my art. … I haven’t made money in the 25 years that I’ve been doing it, so I needed someplace to have my art permanently and also bring in other artists.

Did you pick the brains of other shop owners?

Paul: Yeah, all my sex-positive friends. The harnesses especially, the strap-ons, I talked to a lot of my lesbian and dominant friends about which ones were the best. I asked around, asked a lot of questions. I knew what we liked [but] I wanted to know what would sell in the shop. I don’t have a lot of room so I just have the best of the best. I wanted more of a boutique experience for shopping as opposed to a sleazy porn shop. I wanted something that was sex-positive.

Define “sex-positive.”

Paul: People who aren’t embarrassed by sex. Love sex and aren’t ashamed of it and have sex. (Laughs.)

Eve: For the shop it’s being open about it, educating people. Doesn’t matter what experience level you are. That’s a huge mission, just to be here for people. … We just want to be a place that normalizes sex.

Best-sellers so far?

Paul: Probably the We-Vibe, a male-female couple vibrator; it operates by remote control and also has an app so you can run it off the iPhone. The app one is $129, the one with the remote is $179. They’re not cheap. I don’t have cheap toys. They’re all quality and legit. There a lot of knockoffs, if you buy online you don’t know what you’re getting. They’re all body-safe materials, silicone, rechargeable. The Je Joue cock ring—or “pleasure ring” if you want to be more newspaper friendly. Definitely a best-seller, probably one of our best-selling toys because it’s one of our favorites so we talk it up.

What kind of customers have you had?

Paul: I’ve had the best customers; everybody’s been so great. Everyone who comes in—I don’t know if they’re coming in because they’re aware of quality toys but I’ve had some walk-ins where people come in and say, “I don’t know what I want” and I talk them through it. I get that as well as experienced people.

Eve: He’ll spend an hour to walk through the process to help them find something. Some people come in, they just get stickers and art—that is something we offer that’s cheap, the stickers and T-shirts.

Do you think there’s a trend toward people being more openly sex-positive?

Paul: I think so. Sex is more accepted in bigger cities like San Francisco and Portland. I think Sacramento is just coming along. It’s still very conservative. All we have had is Goldie’s [Adult Superstore]—which is fine, I’m glad we have it … but we don’t have an adult shopping boutique where you can walk in and not feel sleazy. There’s no porn, there’s no weirdness. (Laughs.)

Eve: We want to make it so all populations feel comfortable—if you’re gay, if you’re kinky, if you’re straight. Whoever, whatever you are, this is your place.