Kevyn Aucoin

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Kevyn Aucoin (February 14, 1962 – May 7, 2002) was an American make-up artist and photographer.


Early life

Aucoin was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, to parents Isidore Adrian Aucoin and Thelma Suzanne Melancon, who adopted him as an infant through Catholic Charities of Alexandria, Louisiana[1] He had three siblings, Carla, Kim, and Keith, all of whom were adopted as well.

Aucoin was interested in makeup from the time he was a child,[2] and frequently did his sisters' makeup and photographed the results with a Polaroid camera—something he'd do throughout his career. Afraid to buy makeup, he would shoplift it. The guilt of stealing and fear of getting caught made him stop.[3]

He realized he was gay at age six,[4] and was frequently bullied at school.[3] His parents were initially in denial of their son's emerging sexual orientation; his mother later said, "I didn't think Kevyn was a sissy; I just thought he was a gentle child."[3] In one instance, he had a teacher spank his bare buttocks in class, which Aucoin later regarded as sexual abuse.[5] The bullying continued in high school, and he dropped out after being chased by several classmates in a truck. He enrolled in beauty school and had hoped to learn more about applying makeup, but ended up teaching the class instead.[5]

At 18, Aucoin worked in a small corner of an exclusive women's store in Lafayette. But the women were uncomfortable with a man doing their makeup. Thelma Aucoin recalled, "It was $30 for a makeup lesson, and these were women who paid $3,000 for a dress, but they'd never let him."[3]

In 1982, Aucoin moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, hoping to start a career as a makeup artist.[2] He had hoped a larger city would be more tolerant. While in Baton Rouge, he was assaulted by a security guard at Godchaux's, a local department store. He was there with male friends to check out new makeup, when the guard approached them and said "upstairs or downtown," meaning they could be taken to the store's security office or be arrested. Aucoin and his friends opted for the security office, where they were beaten by security personnel. Fearing for his life, he decided to move to New York City with his then-boyfriend Jed Root (who sometimes posed as his manager) to begin his career.[5]

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