Freshly Inked Interview with Danielle Colby

Photos By: Charly Ramos and Sam Doyle

Growing up, did you always imagine you'd one day be on television? 

No. Honestly I was raised to believe Armageddon was coming. Ha! I didn’t plan for shit.

Your show has been on for nearly ten years, how did you first come up with the idea? 

Well, the show was not my idea. It was Mike Wolfe’s idea. I believe he came up with the idea because none of us believed his crazy stories. He would come back from a pick, two weeks on the road, he would have all these crazy stories about the people he ran into and the places he stayed. He had to film it to prove it to us. That actually worked out pretty well for him, didn’t it?

How did you first meet Mike?

I first met Mike at a yard sale. It was in Leclaire, Iowa across the street from my Mother's house. I was looking at a lamp, he bought the lamp, I got mad at him, he looked at me and said “sorry girl, the time to buy it is when you see it.” I liked his sass…we were pretty much inseparable after that. Also, side note, I lost my wallet that day with all my rent money in it. I was mortified! But look how much I found in friendship that day, and I wasn’t even looking for it.
What's it like working with a close friend for so many years? 
I think anybody who’s ever worked with family or very close friends before I can understand, you go through cycles. Some days you’re really excited to see each other, some days you gossip, some days you don’t want to talk to each other, some days you can’t live without each other, some days they have to bail me out and hold it over my head for a few days. We are pretty lucky, we’re pretty forgiving of each other‘s imperfections and we celebrate each other strengths, It works well for us, we’re happily dysfunctional and we make the best out of every situation we possibly can. Above all else, even on our worst days, we love unconditionally and we appreciate one another. Our Friendship is a wild Journey but we are born adventurers. 

Speaking of work, what's the best part about managing the Antique Archaeology shop and the hardest part? 

Much of my managing the shops is from the road lately as I’m out on the road with the boys more and more. That will reflect in the upcoming season. I think the best part about managing the shops is the women who help manage them with me. Lauren is amazing and is greatly appreciated for her work in Nashville. Everyone assumes I make all the decisions but that could not be further from the truth. Lauren is the life force behind that Nash store and without her, it’s simply would not be the same. Emily Is one hell of a woman, we’ve been friends for such a long time. I’m so thankful to work with her the way we do. She encourages a supportive and loving environment and takes her job very seriously. I’m surrounded by brilliant women and they make me look great! It truly takes a village.
And you don't just collect antiques, when did you know you wanted to start collecting tattoos?

I don’t think I took collecting tattoos seriously at first. I mean my first tattoo was an LBT tribal tramp stamp of a butterfly…Ha! I have definitely acquired some more impressive tattoos since then but I collect them for the story. I’m not afraid of people judging the work I have on my body, it’s a storyline for myself. I love it when my friends work on me, I love to collect the memories, I cannot have an artist work on me that I don’t feel close with. I have to feel a sense of kinship I’ve been very fortunate to find that across-the-board with my tattoo artists.

Where do you find inspiration for tattoos? 
Mostly through friends and family. I am one of those people who has very personal tattoos. Each piece is there for a very specific reason. I really enjoy it when an artist feels their inspiration and they follow their own bliss. Patrick Cornolo at speakeasy tattoo in Chicago is my perfect match for this. When I’m collecting tattoos I’m collecting somebody’s art, having somebody else’s beautiful work on my body, in line with the theme I’m looking for. So I guess my greatest inspiration is the artist I’m working with. If they are inspired and educated and well practiced it’s usually a pleasure to be tattooed by them.

Aside from collecting tattoos and your successful show and career you are a dog lover, what organizations have you gotten to work with? 
I’ve worked with a couple of organizations, and I have to say, sadly some of these organizations don’t end up putting as much money into rescue as I would like to see, I’ve really found a great rescue partner to work with, Leo, at “Barks of hope” in Puerto Rico. Leo, the owner, and the lead rescuer is very transparent about where donation money goes and I get to see her property regularly. When I’m in Puerto Rico I get to go to her house and help feed and care for the animals whenever I ask. Usually, she has about 40 to 60 dogs and puppies at any given time, she has horses, pigs, birds, all kinds of animals. I get to see that all of these animals are in good healthy living conditions and are getting the veterinary care they need. She’s also very proactive with adoption, it’s amazing! There is a wonderful animal clinic in Jobos Beach Puerto Rico that Leo takes her rescue animals to. Peggy and Dr. Gwen at the 'Pet Vet' do so much work for Leo, often times donating their time and services. They have saved countless lives. They will not give up on an animal, I’ve seen it firsthand multiple times. These are an amazing group of women that I really look up to. They’re teaching me a lot about animal rescue and about compassion. They also work with a local orphanage to help educate kids on veterinary medicine And animal rescue, preparing the future of the animals on the islands. They really want to educate the youth to properly understand how to care for such a large population of abandon animals. These things happen after a hurricane or a large tropical storm. So many people and animals are displaced and just need some love.  But, to be honest, Puerto Rico has struggled with this for quite some time, It’s inspiring to see them working so hard to fix this problem. I also work with PAWS of Chicago, I am one of their pitbull advocates, I rescued my boxer pit mix, Vida Boheme From them. They’re wonderful to work with, they do a great job in Chicago and I have mad love for them.
What's something you do for fun outside of work? 
Mostly hanging out with my family these days if I’m not working. Honestly, I love my work so much I pretty much only work. I mean, I work in the entertainment industry with burlesque, the costuming industry with burlesque, the vintage industry with American Pickers, I travel to pick constantly, I really don’t have much time for hobbies. So it’s a good thing that I really love my work, I’m constantly designing costumes or repairing vintage costumes, I think that takes up most of my time outside of American Pickers and Antique Archaeology. The other thing I really enjoy is reading.

How did you discover burlesque and when did you start dancing? 
I discovered Burlesque in Chicago quite some time ago, years and years ago- I was addicted from the first show. There’s something very empowering about Burlesque. I started learning right away, I started performing way too soon! There’s some great video footage to prove that. But it’s all been a really fun journey, even watching old videos, it’s cool to see how much more at ease I am with myself and with my audience. But it’s funny, I have maintained the same lumbering stance since I started. There’s nothing delicate about me on stage, I just throw my guts out there and then I walk away and let people sort out what they saw.

When you're dancing what name do you go by, and how did you come up with it? 
“Danny Diesel” my Godfather, Willie White, gave me that name when I was probably five years old. My Dad drove a diesel car and my Godfather was a hillbilly redneck diesel mechanic from West Virginia that I was honored to have in my life as a secondary father figure. He was the best kind of redneck, yes, he was a hunter. Yes, he was a trucker. And he was so many more things. Willie Whites dinner table was always the most diverse in town. I learned a lot of diversity through him, funny… I learned a lot of diversity from a redneck. He passed recently, I miss him all the time and deeply regret not spending more time with him before he left us. I decided to use that name Danny Diesel for roller derby, after five years of beating up my body in a derby, I continued to use the name for Burlesque. He thought it was hilarious, he was just tickled that I still use that name.
For people that don't know a lot about burlesque, how can it benefit women? 
Well, it depends on the woman. I’ve seen plenty of women go into Burlesque and it does not benefit them at all. Keep it real, understand that you are not the best, you are not the worst, there’s always better and there are always worse. You’re just there representing your voice. You’re not any more special or any less special than anyone else in the theater. Wait...actually, the most import people in the theater are in the audience, without them you would just be dancing by yourself.
You have an eye for antiques, if you could pick an antique to represent you what would you pick and why?
This is why I collect vintage striptease costumes. I love the story of striptease. It has everything, it has sex, intrigue, money, mafia, costumes, danger, feminism, empowerment, defeat, murder, ego, spirituality. Burlesque is a religion to me. It’s my complete escape from this world. And let me tell ya, I’ve become quite the escape artist.
What's your advice for women out there searching for confidence or regaining confidence? 
My advice, for what it’s worth… If you’re trying to gain or regain confidence, don’t do it through Burlesque. Help in your community, educate yourself, travel, find where your real strength lies. 


  • One of the most beautiful woman in the world

    Kevin Caudill
  • Hey Danny
    I’m an antiquedealer in Sweden and i’ve been to the States some years ago and then I had some auctions in Bishop Hill
    That was the best time in my life.
    I follow you in The Pickers and I would really like to have some contact with you if you have any time left
    FROM Tony

    Tony Skogberg
  • I have watched “Pickers” off and on for years. From the 1st time I Saw Daniel I was done! Massive crush! I couldn’t put my finger on it but there was something about her that appealed to me. I recently did a deep google dive on her and the more I read and see the greater the appreciation.

    An empowered strong woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Unapologetically not an anorexic silicone enhanced blonde. A true American, even international beauty. For me she has set a new standard of feminine appeal. Thank you!

  • I love that you are always so uplifting and empowering to other women… never catty. You are always open and honest about everything. You’re awesome

  • Danny I think you do a great job on the show and I hope to see you come to New York one day and we can come and see you show
    Pete smith

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