They get off on vampires and horror movies and brutal deaths. It's all part of the hell-hop scene.

Havok adopted his vampire shtick for the Underground Psychos contest, a sort of "misfit American Idol," as Alex Abbis, the co-founder of Psychopathic Records, puts it.

More than 1,000 "wicked"-themed rock and rap acts entered the contest, which was organized by Psychopathic Records. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope picked a few dozen finalists — including Havok. He succeeded largely on the strength of his song "Cemetery Party." It boasts a catchy Dr. Dre-like beat from Hardley Davidson, best known for his work with Chamillionaire and Potzee.

Havok didn't win the contest but says his style drew words of praise from his hero. "Violent J told me, 'No matter how your career turns out, you can always look back and say, 'I did something different. I was the first person to do the vampire thing and stick to it.'"

He also connected with many of the 35,000 Juggalos who voted in the contest's online balloting by passing out promotional flyers in the Loop and at Hot Topic stores with his managers, Jay Deak and Paul Kreitler. Stogie even enlisted his cousin, an Imo's deliveryman, to tape the flyers to boxes of pizza.

Another door opened when Trigga Prophet, a local rapper Havok sometimes performs with, connected him with Vanilla Ice. The Iceman invited him for a brief tour.

"Ice is on a different level now," says Havok. "He was doing magic tricks, riddles and mathematical puzzles at the afterparties. We stayed at five-star hotels, drank Jäger together and bullshitted."

Not everyone, though, feels Havok's vibe.

"We went to hand him a flyer one time, and he wouldn't even accept it. He said, 'Give it to somebody else,'" recalls Hellsent's Demonic. "He always seemed like he thought he was better than everybody — that everybody was below him."

It only makes sense, then, that Hellsent penned a song about him, called "Year of the Heathen." Muerte raps: "Brain is pouring, blood is splattered. Oh my God, you killed Havok, you bastard!"

Occasions Banquet Hall features hanging swords, stained-glass windows and the Confederate flag. It could be a meeting place for the Freemasons. But tonight a couple hundred kids have come to the blue-collar suburb of Lemay to listen to hell-hop and celebrate the Hancock High School graduation of Stephanie Jost.

Stephanie is eighteen, a petite blonde who chews green Trident while sipping her beer. She's the younger sister of B-Skandalus, who performs with the Wet Grimlinz and a few other groups.

Immersed in cigarette smoke, a racially mixed crowd drinks straight from bottles of Bacardi and Old English that they've brought. They've paid five bucks for the show, which also gets them a delicious plate of BBQ beef brisket, watermelon and cheesy puffs.

Onstage, the Grimlinz spit out Bone Thugs-N-Harmony-inspired rhymes. Like many admirers in the crowd, they sport oversize, green, air-brushed T-shirts and matching ball caps and bandanas.

Along with Havok, the Grimlinz boast perhaps the biggest local buzz on the hell-hop scene. Erik "P.R.E.A.C.H." Bothazy co-founded the group a couple of years ago along with Brian "Murda Chops" Beyer. They met growing up in their Tower Grove South neighborhood.

P.R.E.A.C.H.'s family arrived from Romania when he was six.

"My father got beat numerous times [in Romania] — the government was so corrupt," says P.R.E.A.C.H. "I come from a hard-working family. I want to be the first crossover Romanian hip-hop act, and I feel with God's blessing I will do that."

He says that he learned English largely from his group, which also includes hype-man Josh Brown. They chose their name partially from the 1984 movie Gremlins. "A regular gremlin is cute, fuzzy little thing, but a wet gremlin multiplies, it wreaks havoc and destruction, tears the city up," notes B-Skandalus.

It's not always easy for a white rap group, he goes on. "This guy called once, he was like: 'I got your flyer. I live over here on the Hill. If you guys are metal, you're cool. If you're rap, I'll kill you. I know how to get a hold of you. I'll be in touch.' And then he hung up."

Jost attributes tonight's large turnout to the Grimlinz's popularity at Hancock. Rapper Nuttin Nyce — who also performs on the bill — credits promotional tactics employed on

"I bump their CD every day of my life because I feel they have talent," says a 24-year-old fan named Matt Hummel, who works at a Wal-Mart in south county. "I've known a few black rappers in the area around south St. Louis, and P.R.E.A.C.H.'s speed and style out-beats them. People like lyrics about the situations that they've grown up around."

Walking to a nearby 7-Eleven to buy a tallboy, Hummel and a friend are accosted by a pair of sixteen-year-olds. They proceed to smash a bottle on the pavement and threaten to beat them with a brick. Later, Grimlinz's personal security force — three enormous guys in Grimlinz shirts — kick out a rowdy patron.

Occasions owner Ernie Sengheiser (who is also acting as the evening's DJ) eventually calls the cops.

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