Any one of the toothy ghouls you spot on Halloween night could be clients of a Paris-based fangsmith named Father Sebastiaan van Houten.
A former dental assistant who made his first fangs for his mother in 1994 on Christmas Day, van Houten is part of a complex worldwide subculture of people who identify themselves as vampires. They wear fangs and capes and corsets, they party hard, and when the sun rises they disappear into normal day jobs.
Van Houten, who is not a priest, says “Father” designates his role as “fang maker.” He fashions custom canines from dental acrylic and travels extensively in his other role as an organizer of vampire events.
“I’ve made fangs for a Catholic priest, I’ve made fangs for executives of record labels, a Continental Airlines pilot,” says van Houten, who also works out of the Halloween Adventure Store in Manhattan during October. He says he also made fangs for “Twilight” actress Ashley Greene.
Van Houten, 35, produces the Endless Night Vampire Balls held in Hollywood, Florida, Manhattan, New Orleans and Paris. The New York incarnation took place on Oct. 21 at the club Element on Houston Street. It featured belly dancer JeniViva, who performed with a plate of tall candles on her head.
The New Orleans bash, which is tomorrow at the House of Blues, has been voted the No. 1 Halloween party in the world by the website TripAdvisor. The night of Paris’s living dead will be held at the Moulin Rouge on April 23, 2011.
‘Out of the Coffin’
I joined the bloodthirsty crowd at Club Element, a mix of vampires, Goths and people who just enjoy the vamping. There I chatted with a welder named Octavius; with Cal McQuade, who goes by “Cairo” and said she manages a Crumbs Bakeshop in Manhattan; and with Davin, a member of the U.S. Navy who said he is not yet “out of the coffin.”
The only way to get a drink was to step on a man who was lying face up on the floor in front of the bar wrapped in what looked like an inside-out carpet and wearing a red mesh mask with goggles. This was “his thing,” one attendee explained.
Tolerance seems to be a key element in the vampire culture. A manifesto posted on van Houten’s website says, in part: “All we ask is you come with the intent of an open mind, spend countless hours thinking about your costumes and bring positive energies to share with all.”
While the fangs that van Houten makes are sharp enough to draw blood, he claims that most advanced vampires don’t drink it. He used to but he stopped: “I realized it was just a fetish -- it wasn’t really vampirism.”
The fangs “represent all those elements of the vampire that people want to touch,” he says, adding philosophically: “Not all vampires get fangs and not all people who get fangs are vampires.”
(Alix Greenwald is a freelance writer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)