Film & TV

American Pickers' Danielle Colby Cushman on Burlesque Dancing, Her Co-Stars' Quirks, and How She Almost Died in Florida

As eye candy goes, Danielle Colby Cushman is the whole package. A self-described "dysfunctional rockabilly princess," Cushman has some serious, pin-up style sex appeal, rocking retro eyeliner and '50s hairstyles along with the tattoos that cover her chest.

But don't write Cushman off as just a chick on the side. On History Channel's American Pickers, Cushman is the savvy woman behind the scenes, holding the store together in Iowa while the Laurel and Hardy-esque duo of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz drive around the country looking for buried antique treasure. She's also a burlesque dancer and former roller derby girl, so you can pretty much assume she's a bad-ass.

Cushman, along with Fritz, is headed to South Florida this weekend for a meet-and-greet session with fans, so we caught up with her to talk about the future of the show, whether she'd consider her own spin-off, and about the time she almost died in Florida.

New Times: So you're coming down this weekend. Have you been to South Florida before?
Cushman: I have, when I was like 12 years old. I went to the beach and did stupid things like play with jellyfish and go too far out into the ocean. I was on this raft, and I went way too far out, and I couldn't get back in.

Did they have to send someone out to rescue you?
No, I figured it out. I got off the raft and swam back in. It was exhausting. My parents were on the sidelines watching me. They were probably pretty used to watching me do stupid stuff by then.

Are you coming down just for the casino appearance, or are you guys also filming?
No, just for the casino appearance. So we'll do that, and then I'll check out any cool Miami burlesque options.

Anything on the list so far? We have Shameless Burlesque, Cupcake Burlesque....
I haven't done any research yet. Pin Up America magazine is out of Florida, and I just did a cover for them. I'm not sure how close they are to Miami, but they have a burlesque troupe as well.

What else is on your agenda?
I would love to make it to the beach. That would be extremely fun. I'm really boring when I'm on the road. I go from work to the hotel and then sit and work all night. But since I'm going to be in Miami, I want to do something exciting.

On the show, it seems like you stay very much behind the scenes, in an office, while the guys go out on the road. Do you ever get to go picking yourself?
I have a shop as well, next door to [Wolfe's store] Antique Archaeology. I design clothing, and I'm a picker as well. But I'm different from the guys; they're the ultimate professional pickers. But I do my own little thing on the side with a lot of retro clothing and cowboy boots and vintage-type stuff. So my whole world is a dysfunctional rockabilly princess' dream come true.

So you're super popular on the show. You've got the burlesque thing, and you were also in roller derby....
Yeah, I did roller derby for three years.

So has there been any talk of a Danielle spin-off?
I don't know. One never knows what will happen in the future. I highly doubt that Antique Archaeology is the last job I'll ever have in my life, though it is definitely the coolest job I've had to date. It all depends on when my time there has run its course. I have an obligation to Mike who put me in the position I'm in right now, and I'll respect that 'til the end. My plan is just to stick around and see what happens. But I have a contract, and I'll of course honor that contract. I guess that's a sugar-coated way of saying I'd love a spin-off.

Okay, let's get real. Who's the coolest guy, Mike or Frank?
[Laughs] You're putting me in a tight spot there. They're two extremely different people. Mike is like an 8-year-old boy in so many ways. He's a prankster, and a jokester, and always the center of attention. Envisioning an 8-year-old boy -- they still are very loving and sweet with their family, still giving out hugs and kisses and stuff, but at the same time they love to go out and cause trouble and wreak havoc in the fun little 8-year-old boy way.

Frankie is the exact opposite. He's the old man of the group. He is very strict with schedules and regimented, and really likes things a certain way. But he has an incredibly funny, dynamic personality -- a huge, huge personality.

Screw it -- I'm the coolest one. But I love them both.

Do you think the show will ever do any picking in South Florida?
I would love to see that, actually. There's a castle that was built in Florida -- do you know the Coral Castle?

I do!
I would love to see the guys go someplace like that. That's one of the coolest stories ever. I'm not positive about [filming in Florida in the future], but I have pushed them into Florida before and will be pushing them in the future.

Any spoilers you can share about upcoming episodes or seasons of the show?
The show is actually weaving itself into a ripped tapestry of personalities. I will not be alone as the face of Antique Archaeology. They're incorporating a lot of amazing people, and really incredible finds. Coming up, there's some stuff that's really going to set the bar high.

[Laughs] Is that mysterious enough for you?

Danielle visits Seminole Casino Coconut Creek along with Frank Friday, May 11, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to host a "Treasures or Trash" promotion and chat with fans. Visit

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Ciara LaVelle is New Times' former arts and culture editor. She earned her BS in journalism at Boston University and moved to Florida in 2004. She joined New Times' staff in 2011.
Contact: Ciara LaVelle