By Ken Stone
Updated at 7:50 a.m. Feb. 11, 2016
Is “American Pickers,” the History Channel show featuring two old friends exploring the junkyards and garages of America, coming to San Diego?
Maybe. Maybe not. It could depend on whether San Diego has something of interest.
“Wolfe and Fritz … hope to find that one interesting individual or two, who may or may not know what he or she has, but also learn about the collection’s past,” the LGBT outlet said Monday.
“If you or anyone you know has a sizable collection you think would make a great fit for the show, you are encouraged to send your name, phone number, location and description of the collection with photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 855-old-rust.”
On Thursday, sdgln.com community editor Timothy Rawles told Times of San Diego that a casting associate had called him directly before sending a news release — and said the show was coming to San Diego. (The show didn’t immediately respond to Times’ requests for comment.)
“Whether or not they will I guess is up to them,” Rawles said via email. “In our conversation, she never made it seem as though it was speculative; she seemed to know they were coming for sure, and are scouting for potential collections/locations.”
But Tuesday, the San Jose Mercury News reported that the antique-hunting pair would be visiting California — not specifying a city or town.
“They are on the hunt for characters with interesting and unique items,” said the paper, quoting an announcement. “Some of what they look for: vintage bicycles, toys, unusual radios, movie memorabilia, advertising, military items, folk art, pre-50s western gear, early firefighting equipment, vintage musical equipment, automotive items, and clothing. … Wolfe and Fritz only pick private collections. They do not pick from stores, malls, flea markets, museums, auctions, businesses or anything open to the public.”
Last Thursday, an East Bay outlet said only that “Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and their team will be filming episodes of the series ‘American Pickers’ throughout California in March.”
“American Pickers” has been to San Diego County before, however, including an October 2010 visit to the California Surf Museum in Oceanside shown in an episode that aired March 28, 2011.
This new season will be the show’s ninth. But the pickers aren’t always praised.
In October 2014, a Greeneville, South Carolina, newspaper reported that Jerry Bruce of Greer, South Carolina, saw the pickrs find an antique device called a polarimeter and sought to buy it from Fritz.
“Bruce alleges Fritz offered to sell him the device for $300 plus shipping. Bruce said in the complaint that he accepted, texted that acceptance and received confirmation by text from Fritz,” the report said. “That constituted a verbal and/or written contract, Bruce said in his complaint. But he claims Fritz never cashed his $300 check and he never got his polarimeter.”
Bruce claimed he suffered damages of $7,500. But when Fritz failed to respond and was declared in default, a judge awarded Bruce a judgment of $1,000 plus $80 in court costs, records showed.
Of greater interest is whether the “American Pickers” stars are gay.
In a 2011 profile, The New York Times reported: “Perhaps owing to a stereotype about the antiques business, rumors circulate on the Internet that Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Fritz are gay. In fact, both men are straight; for the last 17 years, Mr. Wolfe has dated Ms. [Jodi] Faeth, an accountant with a laid-back manner that complements what Ms. Colby described as her boss’s ‘firecracker’ personality.”
In July 2013, starcasm.net went further to debunk the gay rumors, quoting Antique Archaeology office manager Colby as saying:
“Ya know the whole ‘Are they gay, aren’t they gay?’ thing really just makes me laugh. If Mike Wolfe was gay, he would shout it from the roof tops and probably be the most fabulous gay man who ever lived! It would actually be really good for his career if he was.”
As for the shorter sidekick: “Frank Fritz does not in any way whatsoever appear to be gay to me at all. Mike is more cleanshaven, hipster, fashionable dude, but either way, that dog don’t hunt… Damnit! Now I wish they were gay, we might have more to talk about.”
Regardless of the facts, a 2012 social media effort used the hashtag #SupportPickers to encourage them to come out of the closet.
In The New York Times piece, headlined “The Jack Kerouac of Junk,” Wolfe and Fritz are called childhood friends, who “show a similar enthusiasm for wheeling and dealing with eccentric collectors or, more often, ‘freestyling,’ their word for driving around in search of homes with lawns that look like junkyards and may contain treasures.
“As pickers, they are middlemen in the antiques food chain, buying items they can sell quickly, at a markup, to dealers and collectors.”
The show’s Twitter feed, last updated a month ago, didn’t mention a California visit.
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