The first time these businesswomen applied for a lease and were rejected, they figured it was just bad luck. But now that they've been rejected four times by four different landlords, they're beginning to see a pattern.

Brooke Lack and Ryan James are polite and sweet natured. Lack works at Lovejoy Clinic while James owns and manages two high-end businesses--one that leases jets to corporate clients, another that details private planes. The two met while working at Planned Parenthood and several months ago decided to open up a store called Amuse, a high-end "pleasure shop."

"We're trying to change people's minds about adult stores," explains Lack.

They recognize that the commerce of sex can have many negative connotations--from diseases to exploitative internet smut. Instead they envision a boutique with upscale products and a comfortable environment--"candles, feathers, toys, overstuffed sofas," says Lack. They note that the store will be mostly focused on women's pleasure and curiosity.

But so far the idea hasn't progressed past its business plan. When the women applied for a lease along E. Burnside and 24th--not too many blocks from Fantasy Video--they were told they didn't fit the neighborhood's profile.

More recently, they thought they had a place secured on lower E. Burnside, directly across from Union Jacks. But then the landlord emailed to say he had a change of heart.

Lack and James feel as if their experience has exposed hypocrisy in the city--a city that prides itself on being liberal and tolerant. If Portland can support a litany of strip clubs and porn video stores, then why not a high-end, sex positive boutique?

That's why the Mercury and Amuse are sponsoring the following contest for building owners! Be the first to provide these women with a business lease and you'll be rewarded with three consecutive nights of dinners (for four) at clarklewis, the Gotham Building Tavern, and Ripe's family supper. In addition, Lovejoy Clinic will provide you (or someone you love) with a free annual exam and one year's supply of birth control (pills, patch, condoms, whatever). Email Lack and James at, and score a victory for tolerance and sexual positivity! PHIL BUSSE