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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 erotized male sex symbol of the movies to walk naked across the screen". As well as beauty, his on-screen presence has a compelling 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 modeling and prostitution, and appeared in at least one gay pornography film. Interviewed in later life, 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." It has been suggested that the young hustler 'Ned' who appears in Martin Duberman's memoir Cures is Dallesandro.
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 savored his long sandy hair, distinctively muscular physique, large penis, 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 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 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 crotch 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.” 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.
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."
- The Loves of Odine (1967)
- Lonesome Cowboys (1968)
- San Diego Surf (1968)
- Flesh (1968)
- Trash (1970)
- Heat (1972)
- The Gardener (1974)
- Flesh for Frankenstein (1974)
- Blood for Dracula (1974)
- Donna E Bello (1974)
- Il Tempo Degli Assassini (1974)
- L'Ambizioso (1975)
- Black Moon (1975)
- Calore in Provincia (1975)
- Fango Bollente (1975)
- Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus (1975)
- La Marge (1976)
- L'Ultima Volta (1976)
- Un Coure Semplice (1977)
- Merry-Go-Round (1978/1983)
- Sour Omicidi (1978)
- Queen Lear (1978)
- 6000 KM Di Paura (1978)
- Vacanze Per Un Massacro (1979)
- Tapage Nocturne (1979)
- Parano (1980)
- The Cotton Club (1984)
- Critical Condition (1987)
- Sunset (1988)
- Double Revenge (1989)
- Private War (1990)
- Crybaby (1990)
- Almost An Angel (1990)
- Guncrazy (1992)
- Bad Love (1992)
- Wild Orchid 2: Two Shades of Blue (1992)
- Sugar Hill (1994)
- Theodore Rex (1996)
- Pacino Is Missing (1998)
- LA Without a Map (1998)
- The Limey (1999)
- Citizens of Perpetual Indulgence (2000)
- ↑ Ferguson, Michael. Little Joe, Superstar: The Films of Joe Dallesandro , Companion Press 1998. ISBN 18899138096.
- ↑ Interview magazine, October 1994
- ↑ Interview magazine, October 1994
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