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Warholstars Condensed... sort of

page thirteen



Joe Dallesandro

(Photographed on March 2, 1970)
(photo: Jack Mitchell)

Prior to meeting Warhol, Joe had posed for some male nude shots that appeared in Bob Mizer's publication, Physique Pictorial. Although the image below appeared in an issue in 1975, it was taken in the sixties, ca. 1965. The caption reads: "Joe Angelo Dallesandro gave his age as 19 when he came to pose for AMG, but was actually only 18. His birth date was noted as December 31, 1946, 5'6", 140 lbs waist 29.5 (pulled in to 27.25) biceps 13.5, forearm 11.75, wrist 7.12 neck 15.6, chest 39 normal expaned [sic] to 40, hips 36.6, thighs 21, calf 14.12 ankle 9.4 shoulders 47, leg length to floor 30.5 tit-to-tit 8.75, tit to navel 9.75, head circumference at temples 22.75... These measurements were all made by the writer, so can vouch for their accuracy, if anyone cares..."

Joe Dallesandro in Physique Pictorial

Joe Dallesandro in Physique Pictorial

After noting that Joe listed his occupation as "short order cook" and that his "greatest ambition was to own his own Italian restaurant," Mizer goes on to say that "Because of an unfortunate altercation between Joe and the man who brought him here, we refused to do additional work on Joe, and of course you know who suffered from that decision. More prudent was Bruce Bellas whose magnificent work on Joe is still offered by Kensington Road Studios. And of course the avant-garde Andy Warhol who could always sense natural quality..."

Note the small symbols near Joe's shoulder, just above his tattoo. Mizer's use of symbols is explained on the inside cover of the magazine under the heading, "SYMBOLS ON THE PICTURES". It begins "We offer a sheet giving a partial explanation but we might be sued for libel if we wrote out a complete interpretation. If you are interested, perhaps you will sometime contact a traveler who has been 'educated'." It then goes on to mention that there are eighty-six 4x5 b&w negatives of Joe in the collection and also an 8mm film available for $10.00." (PP)

Although Physique Pictorial listed Joe's birth year as 1946, it was actually 1948. He was born on New Years Eve in in Penascola, Florida. His father was an Italian American sailor and his mother was 16 year old Thelma Testman. Thelma was fourteen years old when she married Joe's father.One year after Joe was born, she gave birth to his brother Robert (Bob) who would later work briefly as Warhol's chauffeur and would also appear in Trash with his brother.

Thelma was arrested for interstate auto theft when her children were still young and she was sentenced to five years in a Federal penitentiary. Joe's father (Joe Sr.) divorced Thelma and took the boys to New York with him where he worked as an electrical engineer. Both Joe and his brother were eventually placed into the Angel Guardian Home in Harlem prior to being fostered by a couple in Brooklyn. Joe's dad would visit them about once a month at their foster parents' home. Joe attended a Catholic school until the second grade and then moved with his foster family to Long Island. Joe and his brother Bob lived with the family until they ran away and were removed from the family by social services. (JOE 13)

Joe eventually wound up living with his father at the age of fourteen at his grandparents' house in Queens. He was expelled from school when he punched the school principal in the nose after the principal blamed his father for Joe's bad behaviour at school. Joe spent much of his youth stealing cars. He got into trouble with the police when he crashed through the gate in the Holland Tunnel to avoid paying the toll while driving a stolen vehicle. During the police chase that ensued, Joe was wounded by one of the officer's guns. When he went to a hospital with his wounds, he was arrested by the police. He was sentenced to the Camp Cass Rehabilitation Center for Boys in the Catskills for four months, but escaped prior to serving his full term. He was issued a warning that if he got into any more trouble before he turned 21, he would have to serve his remaining sentence in addition to any other time he got for the new sentence. (JOE17-18)

Joe decided that the best thing to do would be to leave New York, so he robbed an RKO theatre in Brooklyn, where the gay manager was a friend of his, and proceeded to Mexico with the takings - accompanied by a friend named Stanley. In Mexico Joe washed dishes to support himself and eventually both him and Stanley hitchhiked to Los Angeles. While hanging out at the bus station, Joe was approached by a gentleman who wanted to take nude photographs of him and it was at one of those sessions that the picture featured above was taken.

When Joe was arrested for assault after getting into a fight, a judge in Los Angeles sent him back to his father who was then living in New Jersey with his new girlfriend and her two daughters. Joe married one of the daughters, Leslie, who gave birth to Joe's first son, Michael. Joe eventually left that marriage and moved into a small apartment on 10th Street in Manhattan. He spent much of his time hanging out around Times Square and it was during that period that he was discovered by Warhol and Morrissey. (JOE19-20)

Joe Dallesandro:

"I just happened to be in the same building that they [Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey] were shooting something and friends of mine said, 'Look, Andy Warhol's downstairs shooting a movie!' And I said 'Who's Andy Warhol?' And they told me he's a famous artist and we went down there to watch and Paul came out from standing behind the camera with Andy and asked me to do a small scene... Andy sat behind the camera - he would always read a newspaper while he sat behind the camera and all he did was click the camera on and off." (WW)

When he was presented with a release to sign after the shooting, Joe was astonished.

Joe Dallesandro:

"When I became involved with the people - you know, it was a joke - the first film I ever did with them and they came up to me and said we'd like you to sign this release - Paul did after I got that shoot - and I looked at him real strangely and I then said release for what? You're gonna show this in the cinema? Yeah, right, who would go and sit through this?" (WW)

Although the footage of Joe was shot in the summer of 1967 and included in **** (Four Stars) which was shown once at the end of 1967, it was not until almost a year later that it was shown as part of the separate, self-contained film The Loves of Ondine which premiered on August 1, 1968 at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theater in Greenwich Village (FAW31).

Dallesandro was not the only Warhol star to make his debut in The Loves of Ondine. It was also the first Warhol film that featured Andy's next female superstar. She was...

to page fourteen

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