The 21st Century has spawned an entire new class of entrepreneur: The influencer. No, it’s not just another word for celebrity. Influencers are more like traveling salesmen, except they don’t have to leave home. (Unless they’re selling travel.)
It’s kind of an ingenious business idea. Startup costs are low. A ring light, a smartphone and an Instagram account is really all you need.
Marketing firms are spending gobs of money on influencers now to hock their products. The sector now tops about $10 billion annually. Give it a little more time, and there will be influencer classes at your local business school.
The industry is big enough that it’s spawned a support industry. Someone has to make those ring lights and selfie sticks. And the need to have bigger and better production has inspired businesses like Exposure Selfies, here in Lafayette.
If you pass it on Jefferson Street, you might think it’s a giant photo booth. But owner Carlie Faulk prefers the term “selfie studio.” Content creators and influencers use her space — which includes 5000 square feet and 30 different rotating background installations — to run all kinds of shoots.
It can also be booked for private events, birthdays and Botox parties! Carlie grew up in St. Amant and launched Exposure Selfies in 2021.
Some spectacles just don’t work on a mobile device. Even in the 21st century, for some events, it’s better just to be there. And that’s pretty much the best way to describe the Janky Piano Show, the brainchild of Lafayette-based musician Hunter DeBlanc.
Janky Piano Show is an over-the-top variety show. It pipes in pop-culture nostalgia with pre-taped video parodies, a wheel of fortune for song requests and some pretty wild audience participation. At the center of the madness is Hunter himself, who plays MC and piano-man.
The show began as a way of jazzing up a weekly residency and has grown into a pretty complex production, requiring stage hands and costume changes. Hunter likes to describe it as a “Saturday Night Live piano bar…except it’s a whiskey fueled dumpster fire.”
On that note, sponsors took note of the show and have begun underwriting it.
Hunter grew up in Opelousas and has also spent time working cruise lines as a piano player. You can check out his pre-Janky-era appearance on Out to Lunch Acadiana at our website itsacadiana.com.
Out to Lunch Acadiana is recorded live over lunch at Tula Tacos and Amigos in downtown Lafayette. Photos by Astor Morgan.