Tempe ‘FangMaster’ Adds Bite to GCU’s ‘Dracula’
By Doug Carroll
There’s no getting around the seasonal nature of certain jobs.
Santa Claus in December. A tax accountant in April. And the FangMaster in October.
The FangMaster? That would be the self-chosen nickname of Rod Jakubik, who makes custom vampire fangs out of his garage in north Tempe — and outfitted the GCU production of “Dracula” with them.
Jakubik, 53, a dental technician, has a day job making removable dental appliances such as dentures, partials and retainers. But in the evening he lets the FangMaster out to play, creating not only realistic Dracula-style teeth but a host of other varieties.
Want zombie, hillbilly or nerd teeth? Werewolf teeth? Teeth like the “Jaws” villain from the James Bond movies? Big teeth that look like actor Gary Busey’s? The FangMaster has made ’em all in his lab, although he says nothing comes close in popularity to fangs, which he began producing more than 15 years ago.
In the month of Halloween alone, Jakubik will crank out as many as 50 sets of fangs at $99 a pop. GCU received a discount, as did Greenway High School, which also mounted a production of “Dracula” in October.
“I love horror films, and this (hobby) was born of that,” says the friendly Jakubik, a Michigan native who had his own dental lab for 13 years before selling it in 2006. “If I could figure out a way to do this for a living, I probably would. It’s fun.”
To fit the five members of the GCU cast requiring fangs, Jakubik brought his travel kit to campus and did the work at a rehearsal. (Others working on the show also wanted them, for a total of 13 pairs.) He takes an alginate impression and also matches the shade of the fangs to the wearer’s actual teeth. Turnaround time is about one week.
Michael Kary, the director of the Ethington Theatre Series production of “Dracula,” knew Jakubik from a Christmas production at First Baptist Church of Scottsdale that both worked on about 10 years ago. And Jakubik’s wife, Tammy, has two brothers who attended GCU and performed on the Ethington stage.
Custom fangs for the theatre might seem like a vanity item, but it’s unlikely that the novelty-store type would get the job done. The cheap ones often function more like a mouthguard, increasing saliva and making diction difficult. Jakubik’s fitted fangs are made of a strong acrylic and can be worn all day without discomfort, although he says it’s not a good idea to eat with them in. The fit is much like an orthodontic retainer.
Jakubik has made fangs for the big and small screens, and perhaps his most notable brush with fame would be the ones he created for a character on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” who was in the throes of possession by the devil.
“That was some crazy stuff,” he recalls, although he recently made fangs for a customer who is maybe a little too far gone about vampires.
“He was asking me, ‘Do you know where I can get a coffin?’” says Jakubik, who wisely asks no questions of his clients and their plans to use his handiwork.
You’d expect Jakubik to be an expert on “Dracula” — and he is. He says the best movies about the Transylvanian count are “Interview With the Vampire,” made in 1994 and starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” made in 1992 and starring Gary Oldman.
Among stage productions, he rates GCU’s version right up there with one he caught at the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix several years ago.
“I like a good, serious rendition, and (GCU’s) was great,” says Jakubik, who saw the show last Saturday night as part of a packed house. “It was polished, and it had something extra.”
For more information about Jakubik’s work, go to www.TheFangMaster.com.
The final three performances of “Dracula” will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For tickets, call 639.8880. Because of its themes, the show is not recommended for children younger than 12.
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.