by staff writer Symone Tripodis
Lansing pin-up photographer Autumn Rose Luciano lives inside her art. As owner of Decadence Dolls Photography, Luciano decorates the home that doubles as her studio with authentic vintage pieces that she finds on her frequent antiquing trips. However, the home, she shares with her husband Kevin Laitala and their six cats is not the only place that Luciano shoots her photos.
“I travel to locations all the time for event shoots. We normally book seven or more girls in one day for things like that,” said Luciano. “I’ve shot with cars, horses, airplanes, other vintage-style homes.”
The Lansing native’s love of all things vintage comes from having spent much of her childhood with her grandmother, listening to old-time music and watching TV classics.
“It’s exciting because it’s just more visually appealing and fun to me than the modern aesthetic,” said Luciano.
Luciano has come a long way since her first experience with a film camera as a child. She was voted best photographer for the City Pulse’s Top of the Town Awards this year. She is featured in multiple national pin-up magazines and has worked with professional up-and-coming pin up models.
“I started doing band photos when I was brand new,” said Luciano. “By the time I finally bought a studio kit and got a business license, it was only a couple weeks before I shot my first pin-up of a friend, then it spiraled into what I do today.”
Although pin-up photography is what pays Luciano’s bills, that is only one facet of her life. She also performs in drag at Sprial Dance Bar in Old Town as what Luciano calls herself, a “faux queen.” Drag queens are men, typically transvestites. Women who participate normally dress as men and are called “drag kings.” As far as Luciano knows, she is the only woman in the state to perform as a drag queen.
“So far I have only performed at Spiral Dance Bar in Old Town, but I am expecting to branch out to other venues soon,” said Luciano.
Luciano also directs a troupe of burlesque wrestlers called The Klaw Mark Kittens that perform skits based on the photographs of Irving Klaw. Luciano said that directing her troupe is great exercise and a lot fun.
“The girls have vintage hair and make-up styling, wear bullet bras, garter belts and back seamed stockings and will perform funny scenarios that always end up with them fighting,” said Luciano.
Although she hasn’t had a lot of time to participate lately because of her busy photography schedule, Luciano is also a paranormal investigator. For more than five years she has been a member of the South East Michigan Ghost Hunting Society. http://www.semghs.org
“I have had a few experiences and have caught some voices and other strange sounds on recording,” said Luciano.
Luciano said that the group goes into homes and businesses to provide solid evidence of the paranormal claims.
Beautiful pictures are not the only things for sale from Luciano. As a fruit haberdasher, she creates handmade Carmen Miranda-like turbans that she sells on Etsy.com.
“As to what makes me who I am, I suppose it’s my interests,” said Luciano. “I am lucky that photography allows me to be able to pursue so many other projects that I enjoy.”
When asked about her title in the community, Luciano describes herself as a renegade business owner or perhaps a strange entrepreneur.
There is no doubt that Luciano has a full plate encompassing all of her creative outlets. Although, she still has more to offer. Luciano gives back to the community that raised her, in many ways. She is co-creator and sole head of Pin-Ups Love Pussycats, a calendar sold online where 100 percent of profits go to the Mid Michigan Cat Rescue.
“I’m a cat lady so I love being able to help out,” said Luciano. “The calendar includes pretty pin-up girls with their feline counter parts.”
Luciano also created a program for high school girls between the ages of 15 and 17. The program is called Chin-Up Pin-Up and is an opportunity for a high school girl to be nominated and receive a free pin up shoot photographed by Luciano.
“I have seen some of these girls become more confident when they see how beautiful everyone else already sees them to be,” said Luciano. “Sometimes they just need to see it for themselves.”
Autumn Luciano has no limits when it comes to pursuing her interests. She is always looking for new inspirations and continues to innovate her business. She has made her vintage mark on the city of Lansing and will continue to provide the unexpected.