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Joe Dallesandro
Born Joseph Angelo D'allesandro
December 31, 1948 (1948-12-31) (age 61)
Pensacola, Florida

Joe Dallesandro (born Joseph Angelo D'Allesandro III on December 31, 1948) is an American actor, and Warhol superstar. Although he never became a mainstream film star, Dallesandro is generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century, as well as a sex symbol of gay subculture. Dallesandro identifies himself as bisexual.[1][2]

Dallesandro starred in Flesh as a teenage street hustler. Rolling Stone magazine in 1970 declared Flesh the "Best Film of the Year", making him a star of the youth culture, sexual revolution and subcultural New York art collective of the 1970s.

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Early life

He was born in Pensacola, Florida. His father, Joseph Angelo D'Allesandro II, was an Italian-American sailor, and his mother was 16-year-old Thelma Testman. By the time Dallesandro was five, his mother was serving five years in a Federal Penitentiary for interstate auto theft. His parents divorced soon afterward. Dallesandro and his brother, Bobby, were taken to New York with their father, who worked as an electrical engineer. Both boys were eventually placed into the Angel Guardian Home in Harlem, prior to being fostered by a couple in Brooklyn. The senior Dallesandro would visit them about once a month at their foster parents' home.

Dallesandro attended a Catholic school until second grade. He and his brother lived with the family until they ran away and were removed from the family by social services. At the age of 14 Dallesandro and his brother moved to Queens to live with their paternal grandparents. He was kicked out of school for punching the principal, who had insulted his father.

As a teenager, Dallesandro supported himself by prostitution and later nude modeling, appearing most notably in short films and magazine photos for Bob Mizer's Athletic Model Guild. Dallesandro also appeared in at least one gay pornography film. In a later interview, Dallesandro said: "My hustling days were more about trying to take care of myself. Having met those people kind of calmed me down. They showed me a different part of life. My attitude was that it widened my life experience... I realized later that I was looking for a father figure and someone to love me."[3] The street-wise young hustler "Ned" who appears in Martin Duberman's memoir Cures has been assumed to be Dallesandro.

Career

Dallesandro met Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in 1967 while they were shooting The Loves of Ondine, and they cast him in the film on the spot. Warhol would later comment "In my movies, everyone's in love with Joe Dallesandro."

Dallesandro played a hustler in his third Warhol film, Flesh (1968), where he had several nude scenes. Flesh became a crossover hit with mainstream audiences, and Dallesandro became the most popular of the Warhol stars. New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote of him: "His physique is so magnificently shaped that men as well as women become disconnected at the sight of him."

As Dallesandro's underground fame began to cross over into the popular culture, he graced the cover of Rolling Stone in April 1971. He was also photographed by some of the top celebrity photographers of the time: Francesco Scavullo, Jack Robinson, Richard Avedon.

Dallesandro also appeared in Lonesome Cowboys (1968), Trash (1970), Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula (both 1974) also directed by Morrissey. These last two films were shot in Europe, and, after the films were completed, Dallesandro chose not to return to the U.S. He continued to star in films made mainly in France and Italy for the rest of the decade, returning to America in the 1980s. He made several movies without Warhol and Morrissey, and is known for his portrayal of 1920s gangster Lucky Luciano in Francis Coppola's The Cotton Club. He also appeared as a religious zealot in Cry-Baby by John Waters.

Dallesandro has a famous tattoo on his upper right arm that reads "Little Joe", and was portrayed as the hustler "Little Joe" in Lou Reed's hit 1972 song "Walk on the Wild Side", which was about the characters Reed knew from Warhol's studio, The Factory. During a live performance of the song in 1978, recorded on his infamous Take No Prisoners album, Reed made some scathing remarks about Dallesandro: "Little Joe was an idiot, I don't know if any of you know that..You talk with him for two minutes, you hear he has an IQ of 12...He's the only guy I know who went to Italy to be a movie star, and it is not happening...I mean, everybody is ready to go to bed with him, make him a star...He can barely tie his shoes and dress...I say, 'Joe you're getting older,' he says, 'I know, I'll make a Warhol film,' but you can't do that anymore, man!"[4]

A Warhol photograph of the large crotch bulge of Dallesandro's tight blue jeans graces the famous cover of the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers. Dallesandro explained to biographer Michael Ferguson, “It was just out of a collection of junk photos that Andy pulled from. He didn't pull it out for the design or anything, it was just the first one he got that he felt was the right shape to fit what he wanted to use for the fly.”[5] The 1980s British band The Smiths would later use a still photograph of Dallesandro from the film Flesh as the cover of their eponymous debut album.

Dallesandro wrote and produced a documentary film called Little Joe in 2009, in which, among other content, he answers the denigrating remarks of Lou Reed.

Waters has praised him as "A wonderful actor who forever changed male sexuality on the screen."[6]

Personal life

Dallesandro has been married three times. His first wife was named Leslie (the daughter of his father's girlfriend); they had a son, Michael, circa 1968. His second wife was named Terry (Theresa), with whom he has another son, Joseph A Dallesandro Jr, born November 14, 1970; Terry divorced Joe in early 1978. He has since married again to Kim (Kimberly). He has a grandson and a granddaughter by Michael and a grandson by Joseph.

He currently manages a hotel in the heart of Hollywood, where he lives with his cat Booky. He has said: "I've lived such a full life. I've had such great things. There were some hardships, but overall everything has been great."[7]

Filmography

References

External links








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