This month ushers in an Eclectic revamp with a new series featuring local personalities from weirdos to wunderkinds. For this first edition, I queried the multi-talented entrepreneur and cat lady from Lansing, Autumn Luciano. We talk about her pin-up photography company Decadence Dolls, her burlesque and variety show Tease-A-GoGo, and being an all-around babe. Check her out before she runs off with the carnival. No, seriously.
Who or what inspires your artistic expression?
It’s never one person or thing, or sometimes it is, but it depends on the project. Overall, some of my greatest inspirations have come from John Waters, Tom Waits, Glen Heroy, Irving Klaw and Go-Go Amy.
Who is Autumn Luciano?
Hell if I know. Best I can describe her at the moment is a “flauntrepreneur” who is currently attempting to obtain a carnie lifestyle.
Do you consider yourself to have an alter ego?
No. I have a stage name, Naughty Autie. But it’s just me, allowing myself to be sassier than I am day to day. Well, sometimes I’m sassy day to day anyway.
I know you love fashion. Do you have any style icons?
David Bowie, Emmett Kelly, Carmen Miranda and Little Edie.
What are some of your obsessions of the moment?
Clowns and the accordion. I am tackling learning the art of clowning and how to play the accordion this year.
You started as a college newspaper and studio photographer. How did you transition into your own pin-up and event-hosting biz?
I found my niche in pin-up photography and when I started six years ago there were little to no other photographers completely dedicated to the pin-up style in this state. Now the trend has grown, which means there are more competitors who like to undercut my prices.
The show producing happened almost on accident. I started out directing a troupe of girls who wrestled in vintage lingerie in comedic skits live on stage [Klaw Mark Kittens]. About two or three years into running that troupe, I created a one-time show for an out-of-town performer who needed a gig and wanted to perform with my girls. Two months later, another performer friend of mine was coming in from out of state, so I recreated the show. I’ve kept it running every two to three months for a little over three years now. It’s grown into what is now Tease-A-GoGo, a burlesque variety show that has a different theme for every show.
You’re pretty DIY. What challenges come with that?
I am doing well over a full-time position and being paid probably minimum wage at best.
Some people say my rates are expensive, but they have no idea about the work both before and after their shoots. I design and put together all the sets, spend hours hunting down wardrobe and props, [and] keep the entire studio clean and organized to keep the sets fresh. Also, [there’s] all the man hours promoting, editing and maintaining equipment. I won’t even get started on the ridiculous amount of work that goes into each show. I don’t call myself a flauntrepreneur lightly. If it’s sparkly and includes a paycheck, I am in.
What’s a quick memorable highlight in your career?
I’m not sure if it was the most notable, but I was interviewed on Playboy Radio once, which was kind of funny.
What are your current projects?
Tease-A-GoGo is coming up on Sept. 3 at The Avenue Cafe in Lansing. Soon, I will have my second music video for Son of Dave (an incredible one-man band based out of England) released online, for his cover of “Black Betty.”
Think fast! What is the title of your memoir?
Clowns, Cats, and Cameras: The Impractical Guide to the Flauntrepreneurial Lifestyle.
And in an homage to Andy Warhol and Interview Magazine … do you dream?
Sure do — mostly about Coney Island.
Find out more about Decadence Dolls photography, Tease-A-GoGo and Autumn Luciano at autumnluciano.com.