Joseph Angelo (Joe) Dallesandro is an American actor and Warhol icon.
Joe Dallesandro was known for his voluptuous physical beauty, flesh-baring film appearances, and openness about his bisexuality. Although he never became a major mainstream star, Dallesandro is generally considered to be the most famous male sex symbol of American underground films of the 20th century. According to biographer Michael Ferguson, Dallesandro was 'the first openly eroticized male sex symbol of the movies to walk naked across the screen'. As well as beauty, his on-screen presence has an enigmatic quality. This derives from what often seems (especially in his appearance in several Warhol films) a bored or surly withholding, and almost comical physical inertia.
As a teenager, Dallesandro supported himself by nude modelling - including sessions for Bob Mizer's Athletic Model Guld and Bruce of Los Angeles - and prostitution, and appeared in at least one gay porn film.
Dallesandro met Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey in 1967 while they were in the midst of shooting The Loves of Ondine, and they cast him in the film on the spot.
Dallesandro was the obvious choice for the part of a teenage hustler in Flesh, where he had several nude scenes. To a large extent, it was because of him that Flesh became an internationally successful film. Dallesandro became the most popular of the Warhol stars. He quickly drew a devoted cult following that savoured his long sandy hair, distinctively muscular physique, large, thick penis (which is often directly alluded to in the Warhol films), and his utter unselfconsciousness in baring these attributes on camera.
Dallesandro also appeared in Lonesome Cowboys, Trash, Heat, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula, 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 US. 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 money-minded '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. 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.
The Smiths would later use a still photograph of Dallesandro from the film Flesh as the cover of their eponymous debut album.
John Waters has praised him as, 'A wonderful actor who forever changed male sexuality on the screen'. He is considered an underground film and gay culture icon, and still has a large cult following.
Dallesandro has been married three times and has two sons. 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.'
Joe Dallesandro - official site