Feral, Beast Or Canine? Artist Makes Fangs To Scare Ra Ubasti makes fangs in a little room in the back of a Halloween costume shop in New York City. In this year of vampire obsession, that could mean a six-fang set, like those you see in an Interview with the Vampire. Ubasti came into NPR's studios to outfit Margot Adler with canine fangs in time for Halloween.
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Feral, Beast Or Canine? Artist Makes Fangs To Scare

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Feral, Beast Or Canine? Artist Makes Fangs To Scare

Feral, Beast Or Canine? Artist Makes Fangs To Scare

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

Need a Halloween costume? You can head into any costume shop and find something ready-made: a witch, a princess, a vampire. Or you can do what our colleague did.

NPR's Margot Adler came across an artist who creates custom-made Halloween accessories, your very own fangs.

MARGOT ADLER: Ra Ubasti works in a little room in the back of Halloween Adventure, a store near Times Square. Ubasti is under 30, an artist who just fell into this. She made her friends a few sets, and suddenly it took off.

These days, she makes all different kinds of fangs, many of them based on the ones you see in the movies. There's the Brooklyn set, the feral set the interview set and more.

Ms. RA UBASTI (Artist): The most classic vampire look, like most people they think of when they think of "Creature of the Night," Bela Lugosi, "Dracula," two fangs on canines. "Lost Boys," "Vampire in Brooklyn," stuff like that, those are usually four teeth showing. In "Interview with the Vampire," they have like six teeth.

ADLER: She's always been fascinated by tribal rituals of teeth filing and scarification. She brings her equipment to NPR's New York studio to make me a pair of fangs. I'm going to get the simplest and cheapest set: two canines, $80.

Now you might think her main clientele would be white Goths perhaps? You'd be wrong.

Ms. UBASTI: I get like burlesque performers, party kids. People ask me who aren't necessarily into this kind of stuff, they have the idea that the overwhelming majority of people I cater to are Caucasian because, like, if you see the movies, you see the folklore. I'm like no, most of them are Spanish.

ADLER: That's right, she says, the majority of her clientele are Latino. And she's not really sure why. Soon the studio sounds and smells like my dentist's office. She uses acrylic, starting with a little ball that gets molded to my teeth.

Ms. UBASTI: All right, now close for me naturally. Okay, open back up.

ADLER: Are you supposed to be able to actually close your teeth when you...

(Soundbite of dental tool)

Ms. UBASTI: You're not going to be able to close all the way with them on because they are caps, yeah. So you're going to you're look at, like, 85, 90 percent of the way down, you know what I mean.

ADLER: At first they look pretty awful. This is what she calls the potato wedge phase. But she fits them over and over again.

Ms. UBASTI: Does that feel comfortable? Feels foreign, tight?

ADLER: It feels big.

She works meticulously until they look and feel right, and then she polishes them.

(Soundbite of polishing)

(Soundbite of blowing)

ADLER: Ubasti won't do teens unless they get their parent's permission: She doesn't want them doing weird stuff with pointy things in their mouth. And she has strict directions.

Ms. UBASTI: No eating or sleeping with these on, non-negotiable, okay?

ADLER: Okay.

Ms. UBASTI: Drinking is fine with these on. Just make sure it doesn't have a lot of artificial, like, colorings or flavorings in it, like stuff like Hawaiian punch, blue soda, stuff of that caliber.

ADLER: You don't want blue fangs. The saddest thing she comes across is people who call her desperately with real, not theatrical dental problems.

Ms. UBASTI: Werewolf, you know, walrus, I got you. But normal eating, no.

ADLER: She tells them to contact a health care provider. An hour or so later, we're done.

Not bad, right? And I can even talk with them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ADLER: It's pretty funny.

They'll be great for Halloween, but Ubasti says if you live in a city, there's a whole other advantage to wearing these. Late at night on the subway, accosted by men saying inappropriate things, she just opens her mouth and smiles sweetly.

Ms. UBASTI: So it works good on lonely train platforms. So, yeah...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. UBASTI: It gives you that edge, no pun intended.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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