American Pickers’ Danielle Colby reveals she was sexually molested as a child, in abusive relationships as an adult

American Pickers Danielle Colby Cushman

I imagine by now that most folks know American Pickers star, and Antique Archaeology office manager and leads maven, Danielle Colby has a burlesque dancing alter ego named Dannie Diesel. Danielle founded and has been an active member of the Iowa-based Burlesque le’ Moustache dance troupe since it first started out as a seedling burlesque beginners class in 2009.

As you might imagine, Danielle draws a good bit of criticism for “shaking her sugar” in public. As you also might imagine, Danielle does an amazing job defending herself, her actions, and the art of burlesque in general.

Recently, Danielle poured her heart out (not poured out in a weak, “I can’t take it any more” kind of way, but poured out in a scalding hot oil, “this is what happens when you storm my castle — only those that can take the heat may enter” kind of way) in a lengthy Facebook post in which she explains what inspired her to dance burlesque. That explanation includes revealing that she was raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses, has been in abusive relationships, and was sexually molested as a child.

American Pickers Danielle Colby Cushman lingerie photo

Why the f$%k does she dance naked on stage?!
Let me just take a moment to clarify a few very important details here.
For the last 38 years of my life I have been watching society as a whole, thinking to myself “Why the hell do human beings even exist?”. Honestly we are innately selfish, simple minded (regardless of our massive thought capability), jealous, all too often hateful beings…

The first time I ever felt pure, selfless, genuine originality was while watching a 300lb woman play the accordion, in a baby doll outfit while singing “Fat Bottom Girls” during a burlesque review. This moment changed my life forever.

Never before had I seen a “fat bottomed girl” in that light, as a strong, confident, highly sexualized woman, more deserving of the stage than the slim, sultry temptress that had the spotlight 4 minutes prior.
Never in my life had I openly wept at a performance and been slapped in the face with the reality that I had been duped, suckered and lied to since childhood about what beauty was and was not. NEVER before had I cried myself to sleep afraid of my own potential, regardless of my weight or body type and never before was i more inspired to find that beauty in myself.

That Fat bottom burlesque sinner did more for me in that 4 minutes than I had ever experienced in 18 years of having the bible shoved down my throat.

As I write this, tears streaming down my face, out of frustration that many people just don’t f@$king get it! I am not a woman starving herself to fit in, nor am I augmenting myself to gain followers. I am who the f@ck I am, period.
Who am I? I am a 38 year old woman who has survived hell, was sexually molested as a child by a grown man who stole my innocence then, of course denied it as he denied molesting my older sister.
I am a woman who endured abusive relationships unaware of my worth.

American Pickers Danielle Colby Cushman and daughter Memphis

I am a mother of 2 beautiful beings. I made them because I, myself am beautiful. They are strong , well rounded, beautiful beings because I am all those things and I am careful with their hearts, minds and bodies.
I am a woman who has been brutalized, I have been an outcast from my childhood friends and family because of religious difference (I was raised a Jehovahs witness), I have been raked over the coals by the public for my lifestyle and wardrobe choices, weight, looks and religious beliefs because I am a strong Pagan woman.

I do not expect nor do I want sympathy, I have a phenomenal life and attitude towards life. I am not down on myself, nor am I “acting out” because I wasn’t loved enough as a child.
I am holding my own femininity, power and grace in my own hands, high enough so folks can grab for it, but never reach it.
I stand on that stage strong, empowered and fully aware of the message I send.
That message is “F*** you I wont do what you tell me”.

I won’t be a good little, mousy, quiet, skinny, sexy (but not too sexy) girl who takes herself too seriously.

NO I won’t be ashamed of the skin I was born in.
NO I won’t be your hero your dream girl, I have no interest in pleasing you.

American Pickers Danielle Colby ingerie photo

I shake my sugar as a dance of rage really. Its not to entertain you, its to empower me, and hopefully you as well in the process, its to make us all stop and rethink everything we were ever told about sexuality, politics, religion, and humankind.
I am not here to teach your daughters how to be good girls, I am here to rage against what has held me down. If they want to rage, I wont stop them, I wont judge them. I just may f***ing high 5 them…
Keep your church, your morality, your politics your stereotypes and your guilt.
I have created my own world, I live in it, alone and visit the other world when I have to, to see the ones I love and to make a living. Hopefully I leave a smile on the faces of those I see in the process, if not, well, so be it. I wont lose sleep over that.
My point is this, Please stop trying to fix me, I am not broken, these roots run DEEP.!

Please stop asking me to remove posts, censor my life to cater to your standards. I could care less about your standards. It’s simply to hard to please everyone, nor do I have any interest in doing so. My goal is simply to live my genuine truth, which exactly what I do every day. If that truth looks different on Tuesday than it did on Monday, so be it, that is evolution, but I wont be changing on your account, ever… It will only be when I see that a change needs to be made in myself, as it should be.

American Pickers' Danielle Colby with a fan wearing a "Girls Rule" shirt

Ladies, here is my advice;
*Never let anyone else dictate your self worth or make decisions for you. Because when you allow someone else to speak for you, they own you, you become a slave to someone else’s idea of what you should be.
*If you f@ck up, OWN IT! Its your f@ck up, thats valuable sh!t. It’s how we learn to be our best self. Take the heat for it then take the credit for learning from it. There is no shame in a mistake unless you refuse to learn from it.

*Never let anyone else take care of you financially, if you do, they own you. Care for your own finances, save every penny you can, be your own f@cking hero!

*Never count on friends to be there for you, things can change on a dime, don’t let anyone ever see all your cards, share only what you don’t mind being published in the local news.
*Be grateful for the kindnesses others bestow but don’t count on them, kindness is fleeting.
*Always say please and thank you but NEVER EVER BEG! Anything you would have to beg for was simply not meant to be

*Love with your whole heart, but be sure you learn to love yourself with your whole heart first, without that love means nothing. No man wants to spend his life rescuing you from yourself, he will get tired of your self loathing and he deserves better, as do you.

*If you are lucky enough to have a great partner, tell them so, be kind with them, be affectionate with them, let him feel like a King, but NEVER give him your crown. If he tries to take your crown, pack your sh!t and leave, he wants your soul.

*No matter what you do in life, do it with pride, walk tall and own it! If you want to be a doctor, musician, construction worker, stripper… Do it with conviction, grace and wisdom, make your paper and enjoy your life.
These are simply my thoughts, for those of you who don’t agree, that’s fine. We shall agree to disagree.
I’m speechless. I think I will let Iris DeMent’s song “The Way I Should” carry us over to the next part of this post…

Thanks to the success of the Burlesque Le’ Moustache troupe, as well as Danielle’s efforts to raise positive awareness of the risque dance form, she was put in charge of creating the first annual Iowa Burlesque Festival, which is being held at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa on November 23 and 24.

American Pickers Danielle as Dannie Diesel on Iowa Burlesque Festival poster
(Poster designed by Danielle’s sexy beau Alexandre DeMeyer, photo by Nicole Sullivan)

A very excited Danielle shared the news on Facebook on September 10:

Hello World!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have produced Iowa’s very first burlesque Festival November 23,24!!!! Empower your inner bombshell, learn to appreciate your own God given assets in all their perfect imperfection with some of the worlds very best burlesque performers who will headline this event with me!

In addition to performing at the event, Danielle Coldy Dannie Diesel will also be doing a “Peeling for your Partner” workshop! Here are the deets from the Iowa Burlesque website:


Saturday 10am
You may not be a “Burlesquer” but you can still learn our tricks to take home to your own bedroom!

Lets face it every girl wants to strip for her partner, yet often times we are too afraid to look silly.

In this “Peeling for your Partner” workshop, I will cover the basics of how to successfully ignite your evening and infuse your love life with passion, feeling SEXY, not silly.

We will cover…
* Bra Removal (bra needed)
* Panty Removal (panties needed)
* Unzipping your curiosity (front zip up shirt needed)
* Skirting the issue (elastic band, slip off skirt needed)
* Shoe and Stocking removal (heels and thigh highs needed)

Please wear tight fitting yoga gear to this class. We will put these items on over our yoga clothes (so nobody feels shy;)

On the site you can also order one of the Iowa Burlesque Festival posters seen above hand-signed by Danielle Colby! (Just click the link to order yours for only $15.)

Here is a complete schedule of events with details about each as well as links to purchase tickets:

Danielle from American Pickers

Some of you have expressed confusion about tickets for Iowa Burlesque Festival November 23,24.
This should help!

Each show of the weekend is totally different, with completely different performances and themes.
I will personally be performing different routines for each show as well.

NOV 23
Sat 6pm show “Shimmy Baby Shake Off” is burlesque contest, with Up and coming performers competing for the title of Iowa’s “Princess of A Peel”.
For tickets click the link below

NOV 23
Sat 10 pm “Queens of A Peel” is our prized headliner show dedicated to Legendary Tempest Storm, featuring exclusively, some of the worlds most beloved burlesque performers!
Click link below for tickets

NOV 24
Sunday “Please Have Mercy” awards ceremony crowns Iowa’s “princess and Queen of A Peel”, featuring exclusively, some of the worlds most beloved burlesque performers! All new performances.
No repeat performances on any day.
Click link below for tickets

the VIP ticket is so great, you get to see all 3 shows and go to the VIP after party on Sat night!
Click the link below for tickets

And in case you didn’t hear, you can also see new episodes of American Pickers (or European Pickers as it turns out this season!) on the show’s new night, Wednesdays at 9/8c on History.

web analytics