He believes there's another path. "I've been a foot fetishist since I was ten years old," Howard continues. "I had this need. It's defined me. It's like I can't live without it. You give a woman not only yourself and your love, but you give them something that means so much to you, that you almost break out in tears every time you do it."
Today, Howard specializes in "open-minded parties for open-minded people," including Friday's installment of Erotik-A. The interactive power-exchange gathering is expected to draw 600 male and female sensuality seekers to an elegant Victorian mansion. "The downstairs grand ballroom will be for dancing and performances," Howard says. "We'll have sword swallowers, belly-dancers, live DJs and fashion shows by Raves and Ka'aba. We'll have an edible boy/girl buffet with fruit and whipped cream. They're laying on tables, and we Saran Wrap 'em from head to toe -- so there's nobody touching any part of them. Upstairs will actually be the interactive rooms where you can have candlewax put on your back, or you can have foot worship done, or you can get flogged. Or you can just hang out and look at the skyline on the outdoor patio."
In addition to vendors selling the latest in whackables and corsetry, Erotik-A Volume 5 boasts Mistress Persephone, an internationally practicing dominatrix who could make even the late Bob Hope hard. Sporting 48-E-sized bazongas, this self-described "Queen of the Underworld" combines performance art with the gothic horror shtick of Elvira. Shrieks aside, however, the goal of Erotik-A is still "people enjoying each other safely and sanely," Howard says. To maintain such festive decorum, the 31-year-old entrepreneur has invited two off-duty cops.
"They're on the lookout to make sure people aren't naked and having sex everywhere," Howard says. "Or for people being super-lewd, people violating each other's space. You can't act like you're doing simulated sex acts, even if it's a dildo. You can't imply that you're going down on a girl. You can't do anything with a woman's breast area. You can't expose yourself. That's all illegal.
"I try to go to the furthest reaches of the law that I can," Howard explains. "I don't want to put anything in jeopardy, but at the same time, I still think that if you're over the age of 21, that you should be able to do whatever you want in the confines of common sense. If you want to spank someone and it's consensual, I don't see how that can even be illegal. Who defines sensuality? What constitutes a sex act? The laws here in Colorado are so vague. Hopefully Hickenlooper will change some things."
In the meantime, Howard sounds a cautionary note: "Some people come to a fetish party thinking they can do whatever they want. And that's not the case. My rules are pretty straightforward: Be nice. Be open-minded. Dress sexy. Act sexy. Ask before you touch. And don't be a lookie-loo."
But sometimes staring in amazement can't be avoided. "Last year at the Gothic, Joey Strange put eight whale hooks in his back and suspended himself thirty feet off the ground," Howard says. "That was awesome. Two hundred and fifteen pounds hanging by the skin of his back! He had cow blood all over him and actually played a song on the bass guitar, too. I don't think anyone else in Denver has done the things we've done; I feel blessed. I love this city, and I believe that great things will eventually come from this part of the U.S."