Iowa—or “I-oh-way” as the ignorant might pronounce it—doesn’t have too many claims to fame.
Oh, sure there’s that little statistic that it literally has the most miles of improved roads of any state in the US, but that’s because of the sheer miles of gravel roads there (technically qualifies, and they still have the most: “Believe It, or Stuff It!” ®).
But Iowa, in its corn-belt crowning glory, has produced a natural resource to rival its agricultural output. And that resource is a curvaceous, brilliantly goofy, sardonic, gorgeous, mouth-watering MILF named Danielle Colby.
This truly statuesque bad grrrl (as in “good-bad-but-not-evil”), this inked Isis, this wrecking-ball of womanliness, this . . . oh, you know the drill.
I’m bustin’ at the zipper to tell you why I am madly in love with Danielle of American Pickers.
Iowa’s current celebrity comes from a fun and fascinating “reality” show called American Pickers. Part treasure hunt, part antiques collectibles show (à la PBS’ outstanding Antiques Roadshow), and part educational (in that fun, spanky way), this is a program designed for geeks but—because of the presence of a certain glorious goddess in its cast—can appeal to any man with a pulse, from the snooty aficionado to the stank-coated biker.
The History Channel’s American Pickers (debuted in 2010, and quickly became a #1 non-fiction television program) follows two regular guys who happen to be collectors of obscure items and things for resale (either as restored interior décor pieces or as repurposed items). Their focus is on finding the diamonds-in-the-rough, the big-ticket cultural artifacts, which might be rusting away in someone’s back yard.Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky (and sometimes beyond) in search of abandoned gold.
The two main players are “pickers” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz.
Mike owns an antiques’ shop called Antique Archaeology in Le Claire, Iowa (in Scott County, on the west shore of the Mississippi River). Mike Wolfe, for anyone who’s seen him, is a wiry, hyperkinetic guy who obviously has the same ADHD malfunction as home-improvement carpenter guy, Ty Pennington, on that extreme home makeover show. Mike’s attention span is gnat-sized, he’s obviously easily distracted, but he’s personable and hilarious in his manic fidgeting.
Frank, his picking partner, is a short, dumpy guy built along the lines of the Pillsbury Doughboy, minus the chef’s hat. He also has a personality like congealed poi. But, he knows his stuff, specifically when it comes to any automotive or motorcycle parts that might be collectible (he also has a freaky fetish for old oil cans).
The two travel around in a cargo van, knocking on doors where they see crap piled up, and they start digging through the rubble. Some of their finds are amazing—vintage bicycles, turn-of-the-20th Century motorcycles and toys, service station signs, you name it. They also meet some bizarre characters, many of whom suffer from the psychological disorder of hoarding. [It happens many times the pair will arrive at a junk spot, having been told the owner wanted to sell some things, only to find this person will not part with any of his or her “treasures”, not for any amount of money.]
She was born in Davenport, Iowa, on December 3, 1975. She has a sister (I’ll get to her later). The household was very strict, following the religious predilections of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
A young Danielle had no chance to rebel, and she grew up as a straight arrow. She developed an interest in the old art of burlesque (the vaudeville/cabaret style of “strip tease” from the earlier half of the 20th Century) when she was between 10 and 12 years old. The campy glitz held the attraction.
However, this morsel–in-waiting had to do just that: wait. She went through school, and although things get a little jumbly (as a rising star, the early details of her life haven’t yet solidified into a coherent biography), she met antiques’ collector Mike Wolfe around the year 2000. She and Mike became friends.
Somewhere in this period, she and her younger sister (along with some other Irish lasses) started a roller-derby team that Danielle also owned. They called themselves The Big Mouth Mickies (a play on two words, the ethnic slur “Mick” as applied to Irish people and the “Mickey”, the knock-out compound used in many of film noir’s finest).
Danielle adopted the roller-derby stage name of “Dannie Diesel”. Her sister was “Carbomb Bettie”.
For anyone who’s ever watched the “sport” of roller derby it is basically punching, elbowing, and scrapping on roller skates—I’m not even sure how the thing is scored or how you know who the winners are. In any event, it’s been a goofy spectator event for decades (and one of early television’s first hits), and Danielle, who is no shy and retiring lily-of-the-valley, elbowed and steamrollered her way through opponents with the best of them. The result was, after four years of abuse, her body was torn up and she had to quit.
Danielle, meanwhile, got a job as a traveling makeup artist for Lancôme and Estée Lauder. By 2004, she was married with two children and based in Chicago. Margaret Cho, the stand-up comedienne, performed at a burlesque affair that Danielle attended. The show was inspiring, especially the burlesque part of it. Danielle recalled her childhood interest in the art of tease:
“Growing up in a strict household, I think I went into that evening thinking that burlesque was taboo and wrong and bad. But what I realized after I left that event was how absolutely liberating it was, to be in a room with women on stage who were ranging from a size zero to a size of, easily, 28 – all different types of women, with all different strengths. I left thinking, ‘Who cares if I have stretch marks? Who cares if I’m a size 14 or 12 or 10? It doesn't matter. What matters is that I like myself.’ That's the feeling I left with, and it was life-changing, and at that point I knew I wanted to do it.”
She is not a fragile flower. She is one of the cave wimmen, those overflowing cornucopias of curvaceous, fluffy goodness like you would see in classic pin-up art, or doing a strip tease in the 1940s, or featured in Playboy in the 1950s. She is archetypal burlesque material: busty, with fleshy thighs and full hips.
On her Facebook page, she described herself at one time as a “cute, chubby girl from Iowa”.
She is definitely beyond merely “cute”.
And, she may be “chubby”, but I don’t see it as a handicap—her brand of “chubby” gives me one.
Back in Iowa from Chicago, and using her roller-derby stage name (Dannie Diesel), Danielle again suckered her younger sister (Carbomb Bettie) into yet another business venture. This time, clothing was optional.
She formed a burlesque troupe whose focus was on the campy side of cabaret but deadly serious about the dancing seduction associated with strip tease. She coaxed several of her former derby teammates to join her.
The troupe was named Burlesque Le’ Moustache. Before formally adopting the troupe concept, the wimmen worked at taking classes and teaching each other, even engaging in classic burlesque house routines such as knife-throwing, aerial acrobatics, and the pure-corn of vaudeville comedy. Although close friends were skeptical, she and her ragtag rowdies quickly made a name for themselves locally. [The region is known colloquially as “The Quad Cities”, but oxymoronically has five cities included: Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island all in Illinois. I figger folks in I-oh-way can’t cipher none too good!]
Danielle’s physicality is imposing—she is a raven-haired beauty with bright blue-grey eyes, she is alternately perky, seductive, or mirthful, all expressed readily on her face. She clearly can purr or growl as needed. She can also look naaaassssty, and that’s what makes her special: she has a lot of body art on her, most gloriously splashed across her upper chest, and this tattoo work seems to add something to her appeal rather than detract or distract.
When Mike Wolfe was developing the show based on his scavenging/antique-hunting he purposefully approached his friend Danielle to assume the job as the office manager of the store. It was a brilliant move on his part; it definitely adds to the show’s appeal:
“. . . when we sold the show to History [Channel] I needed to hire somebody that did what I did, that did what we did with the research and dissecting things as far as where we were gonna go and I asked her to do it, and she’s like, ‘Are you guys nuts?!?’ . . . I saw what she was capable of, and she’s got the edge, she’s got the look. One thing I wanted when I hired her and I knew she was going to be on camera, I wanted someone that did not look like they would work in any antique shop because I wanted our show to be looked at in a different way. I wanted people to look at antiques like they’re fun, they’re rad, they’re killer, they’re awesome. I wanted people to know that they didn’t have to have a blue blazer and ten cats to be an antique dealer.”
Mike Wolfe recognizes her business acumen, and she does run a tight ship. He claims Danielle is the glue that holds them all together.
She has two children (one of each kind), and she’s always working on something creative. She’s artistic, and she has started her own clothing line that she sells as well. She owns a boutique called “4 Miles 2 Memphis” in Le Claire, Iowa (it’s really much more than a mere 4 miles to Memphis from there, more like over 400 hundred miles—danged if’n those I-oh-way people can’t handle numbers too good). [The boutique was moved to Chicago, then closed in 2014, moving her retail efforts to etsy.]
I don’t know jack about her first husband except to know he was one lucky shlub, albeit a really stupid one. Danielle Colby became Danielle Colby-Cushman. This guy was married to a goddess. However, he could apparently not handle her newfound fame and the attention it brought, and the pair divorced (with her losing the “Cushman” part of her handle). She made the announcement the relationship was over in May 2012.
She didn’t give us slavering men out here who adore her much of a chance, though. She remarried pretty quickly. Her new hubby is a Frenchie (from the French Alps) named Alexandre De Meyer. She met him in late 2011 when he did some work for her Iowa store, 4 Miles 2 Memphis (he had since been listed as a co-owner and had designed the store’s logo).
He later set up in Chicago, one of Danielle’s favorite cities. He’s an artsy-fartsy type, and while he may look like a scruffy hispter d-bag (complete with scroungy beard and hispter hat) he must be an okay guy, because I’m sure this goddess would put up with nothing less. He runs a print shop and does artwork for local bands.
The couple now live in Chicago with her kids; she commutes the two hours or so back to Le Claire, Iowa, to work at Antique Archaeology as required from the Second City. She still maintains a residence in Iowa, but now also has a French villa (thanks to the new old man) to vacay in. [And this guy really is no slouch: he did the blueprints for France’s Michelin Museum as well as design work on some other buildings there.]
Danielle’s casual fashion sense ranges between cowpunk and rock-a-billy. She is a sizzler, steaming sensuality without much effort. Her body image is healthy without being narcissistic or unrealistic. She knows her flaws, but plays to her strengths, instead.
The next time you watch American Pickers, pay attention to the sexy tattooed woman behind the counter in the shop. She’s hard to miss: she’s the hottest thing on the show.
And that’s why I am madly in love with Danielle Colby.
Danielle & some of the troupe feature in this video for psychobilly tune by The Dirt Daubers
How cool is this?
A Danielle bobblehead!
Amazon Price: $24.95 $6.95 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 25, 2016)
Amazon Price: $35.99 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 25, 2016)