Hssssss! Where Wall Street vampires get their fangs
Matt Taibbi famously called Goldman Sachs a "vampire squid" in Rolling Stone. But some Wall Street traders and executives actually have fangs and many get them made from this guy.
Father Sebastiaan van Houten, who is neither a priest nor a dentist, is a professional fangsmith — and, he works year-round, not just at Halloween.
He got bit by the vampire bug at age 9 after reading Anne Rice's vampire novels. You could say he has dentistry in his blood — both his aunt and grandfather were dentists. So, when his grandfather passed away, he tinkered with the dental tools to make himself a pair of fangs and later served as an apprentice to another dentist.
The fangs cost $99 plus tax per pair and are made of dental-quality acrylic — not those plastic jobs that fall down and steal your vampire mojo when you're trying to say, "I want to suck your blood."
(Incidentally, modern-day vampires don't drink blood or worship the devil, contrary to popular belief.)
The fangs come in a variety of shapes and sharpnesses, from the ladylike Lilith to the super-sharp Beast and his signature Sabretooth. And yes, there are even some pop-culture styles including the Lost Boys, Underworlds and True Bloods.
Van Houten splits his time between New York and Paris, where the vampire scene is even bigger than it is here in the US, he said. When he's in New York, his "fangshop" is located in the Halloween Adventure Shop at 104 4th Avenue in the East Village.
He says his customers like to wear fangs because they make you feel sexy, help you tap into your primal side, have that mystery element of feeling like you're wearing a mask — and even feel like a bit of a magic trick.
Who are these would-be vampires who hire him to make fangs — Teen-aged Twilight fans? Goth kids? Delinquents?
Actually, he made his first set in 1994 — for his mother. He also made a set for his uncle, an executive at Citibank. Today, he counts among his clients traders and executives from some of the biggest names on Wall Street, from Citigroup (Ah, so maybe that's what happened to Vikram Pandit!), Bank of America, JPMorgan and even the former Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. He estimates that 70 percent of his client base is white collar, though there are fang lovers across all professions, including police officers, electricians, plumbers, teachers, university professors, actors, DJs and club kids. He's made fangs for quite a few celebrities, including Ashley Greene, one of the stars of the "Twilight" vampire movies.
For the record, the blockbuster "Twilight" series, which has grossed over $2 billion worldwide, has actually not helped his business, van Houten said, since Robert Pattinson and the vampires in the movie don't actually have fangs.
In addition to fangs, van Houten hosts several "Endless Night Vampire Balls" (www.endlessnight.com) every year, including two in New York, one in New Orleans and one in Paris. Plus, he runs "Mysteries of Paris Tours, " the Sanguinarium social network for like-minded vampires and is the author of several books including "Vampyre Virtues: The Red Veils, " which offers 100 words for vampires to live by. (Vampire is the mainstream spelling, vampyre is for true vampyres.) He's also working on a vampire app for iphones and Android phones .
You want to suck my blood? Yeah, there's an app for that.
Many a small business has taken a beating through the recession and subsequent digout — and a fangsmith is no exception.
"My business is down 40 percent in the US" from a year ago, van Houten said.
Curiously, in Europe, where you would expect the hardest hit due to the growing debt crisis, he has felt no impact to his business.
"They're not hurting in Europe, " van Houten said, adding that fangs are a luxury product, which could make the difference.
Or, you might say, the fact that they're still buying fangs while Athens burns is evidence that their spending problems haven't been fixed!
Actually, you know the real culprit — that menacing Robert Pattinson and his fangless vampire friends.
"The thing that's really killed my business is 'Twilight, '" van Houten said. "If those vampires had fangs, I'd be a millionaire!"
For more information, visit www.fathersebastiaan.com.
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