Joe Dallesandro

(About art and gay porn, but not much about language.)

A tribute to the Warhol superstar Joe Dallensandro in his youth, in preparation for writing about two very different art books from 2011 — Kevin Clarke’s Porn from Andy Warhol to X-Tube (a survey of American gay porn and the business that creates it) and Christopher Reed’s Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas —  that nevertheless share several points of interest, of which Andy Warhol is a prominent one.

JD is pictured in the Clarke book, in a stunning full-page reproduction of a Bruce of L.A. photo (a full-frontal shot of JD in a pitsntits pose, with a half-hard penis), from Bruce’s only photo-shoot with JD (in the 1960s)  — viewable in a posting (“Joe Dallessandro in his youth”) on AZBlogX, along with another photo from the same session, showing a naked and pensively tumescent JD in profile (with an inscription to Reed Massengill).

Dallessandro. From Wikipedia:

Joseph Angelo D’Allesandro III (born December 31, 1948), better known as Joe Dallesandro, is an American actor and Warhol superstar. Having also crossed over into mainstream roles like mobster Lucky Luciano in The Cotton Club, 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 starred in Flesh [1968] as a teenage street hustler. Rolling Stone magazine in 1970 declared his second starring vehicle, Trash, 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. Dallesandro also starred in 1972’s Heat, another Warhol film that was conceived as a parody of Sunset Boulevard.

Interview magazine on 7/27/09 had a funny, affectionate, and perceptive piece by Glenn O’Brien on JD. JD, now semi-retired from a considerable acting career post-Warhol, was characterized in his youth, again and again, as a “beautiful” man, with a beautiful face, a beautiful body, and (in fact) a beautiful penis, thick and suiting the rest of his body very nicely. You can judge all three of these for yourself on AZBlogX; for the first two, we have a very young JD here:


And the JD of Trash (1970) here:


The face: oval in shape, with farly large eyes and sensual lips: a beautiful male face, as discussed in my 3/10/16 posting “Male beauty”. (Attractive to both women and men — a good thing, since JD is bisexual, despite his having achieved early success as a gay icon in Warhol’s gritty films.)

Then there’s his dick, which is also beautiful (see my 4/1/13 posting “Beautiful penis”, on the appreciation of cocks as aesthetic objects).

On #2 in AZBlogX: from the site, which is offering (for €1648, or roughly $1865) the only signed copy of “Joe Dallesandro’s Nude Photograph by Bruce of Los Angeles” from Bruce’s only session with Dallesandro (not dated):

It shows Dallesandro at the peak of his beauty: Extremely handsome and sexily buffed, in a full-frontal pose. He is shown holding and looking pensively at his fully erect penis, from a revealing profile angle.

The recipient, Reed Massengill, is a major authority on male erotic photography in America (see below).

Warhol’s films with JD initially got a mixed reception: they were way too arty for viewers in search of gay porn (it’s hard for me to imagine anyone jacking off to Flesh or Trash), but also way too porny for many in the art world of the time (and, in any case, this world was still wary of Warhol’s Pop, in any form, as legitimate Art).

(Personal note: I saw Flesh in NYC in December of 1968, on a visit that also included my first experience at the gay baths, the famed Continental Baths.Oh my, almost 50 years ago.)

Bruce of L.A. Bruce of Los Angeles, the photographer for the shots of JD in my AZBlogX posting, and for some others in the Clarke volume (which, alas, lacks an index), was the professional name of physique photographer Bruce Bellas. From Wikipedia:

Bruce Bellas (1909 – 1974) was an influential photographer of the physique of nude males. Bellas was well known under the pseudonym Bruce of Los Angeles.

Bellas was born in Alliance, Nebraska and was a chemistry teacher there until 1947, when he began photographing bodybuilders in Los Angeles, California. In 1956, Bellas launched his own magazine, The Male Figure.

An extensive archive of Bellas’ nude male physique photographs exists today, largely intact. His impact on physique photography is largely felt and recognized, and the works of Robert Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber are widely considered to be influenced by Bellas’ pioneering style.

(Physique Pictorial also puts in an appearance in the Reed volume, which is quite generous about what it counts as art.)

Reed Massengill. From the self-promoting bio (Massengill seems to have neither a Wikipedia page nor a website of his own), considerably edited down:

Reed Massengill is a widely published writer and photographer whose work spans the genres of biography (The Art of George Quaintance, Taschen, 2010, and Portrait of a Racist, St. Martin’s Press, 1994); corporate history (Becoming American Express, American Express Publishing, 2000); and photography (Brian: A Nine-Year Photographic Diary, FotoFactory Press, 2000, Massengill Men, Bruno Gmunder Verlag, 1997; and Massengill, St. Martin’s Press, 1996).

… As a collector, curator and editor, he has produced a number of photographic anthologies and monographs, including Uncovered: Rare Vintage Male Nudes (Rizzoli/Universe Publishing, 2009), Self-Exposure: The Male Nude Self-Portrait (Rizzoli/Universe Publishing, 2005), The Male Ideal: Lon of New York and the Masculine Physique (Rizzoli/Universe Publishing, 2003), Champion (Goliath Verlag, 2003), and Roy Blakey’s ’70s Male Nudes (Goliath Verag, 2001).

… Over the years, his celebrity profiles, freelance features and book and music reviews have appeared in a broad range of both important and obscure publications

… As a photographer, Massengill’s images have been widely published and exhibited in the United States and abroad. In addition to three monographs of his own work, his photographs are included in a number of important photographic anthologies

… He is an avid collector of vintage male nude photography, particularly images from the era of classic physique photography. Because of his numerous books on the subject, his broad knowledge of the field and his extensive library and research files, museums, gallery owners, auction houses, photography dealers and private collectors frequently seek his advice when acquiring images, conducting research or seeking attribution.

Despite this puffery, Massengill is an enthusiast rather than a scholar, and Reed (who is a scholar) doesn’t cite him in his Art and Homosexuality volume.



5 Responses to “Joe Dallesandro”

  1. Mike Says:

    Such a handsome and extremely sexy guy. And I love the vintage look with zero manscaping. I prefer a wild jungle for sex instead of a formal French garden where every bush is pruned to look unnatural and artificial. But, I never manscape and my buddies never complain. As for the purported “extra visual inch” that a pube bush trim gives a guy (as promoted in “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” to the public by Kyan Douglas: “Grooming Guru”, expert on hair, grooming, personal hygiene, and makeup), well… fuck that!!!

  2. Barry Shein Says:

    I knew Joey when we were teens, hung out a lot, same crowd, also his brother Bobby who died quite a while ago.

  3. [BLOG] Some Saturday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky celebrates actor Joe […]

  4. maxvasilatos Says:

    didn’t Joe shoot up on camera in Trash?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: