Joe Dallesandro starred in Andy Warhol movies and graced the cover of the first Smiths record.
As for the cover of The Rolling Stones' 1971 Sticky Fingers album, the one with the crotch and moveable zipper? That's him too. (Well, probably. Official word has never come down, but Dallesandro is sure of it).
His greatest musical immortalization, however, came courtesy of Lou Reed, who sung about him and his Factory peers in “Walk on The Wild Side.”
“Little Joe never once gave it away/ Everybody had to pay and pay/ A hustle here and a hustle there/ New York City is the place where they said/ ?Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side/ I said hey Joe, take a walk on the wild side”
Dallesandro's charisma still resonates with art-minded men and women today. “Little Joe” as he was called, was the pretty boy meets bad boy, naïve in some ways and complex in others. The films Trash, Flesh and Heat a seductive, manly mojo that artists have tried to capture ever since.
Those three movies comprise the Paul Morrissey-directed, Warhol-produced art film trilogy, and will be screened this weekend at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary. Dallesandro will be on hand to speak. He talked to us ahead of the screenings:
On the films:
Paul Morrissey kinda became my mentor, and anything I didn't understand about film, he would teach me. My idea of film was begin, middle and end. But these were different. Paul said I was good at it. I believed he was telling me the truth. It was all mainly improvised. There were no scripts. Paul would give us a basic storyline and we'd improvise around that. I didn't know what these movies would become, but I respected the people involved… If I had concern about taking my clothes off, Paul would say, 'Its' not that kind of movie Joe. These movies are going to be shown in museums.'
On his relationship with Andy Warhol:
I was closer with Paul. Andy and me were more… you know I was around The Factory to make sure the bad guys didn't come in. I was the tough guy that sent people away. He didn't have a thing for me. It was more – I worked for them and that was it. I never even knew that Andy wore a wig on his head. We were around each other all the time but I just never thought about it. One day I went to see him and someone said Andy wasn't seeing anybody becuase he didn't have his hair on.
These days, Paul says negative things about Andy and he doesn't want him connected to the films at all. It's just weird. Andy wasn't there much in the making. You know, we made these movies very quickly. Flesh took us two days. Trash was a couple weekends. But Andy would show up once or twice just to see what was going on and what people were doing. He was like an audience for us.
On Lou Reed:
I didn't have any relationship with Lou back then. We hadn't met during that time. We never talked. What happened was Lou wanted to have his own career and get away from the Velvets. Paul suggested he do a song about the people in the Factory and in his movies. So Lou watched Flesh. He saw some of the people at Max's Kansas City too. He sat down and wrote “Walk on the Wild Side” about us. But it was the character he wrote about. Not me.
On this album covers: Sticky Fingers & The Smiths debut:
The Stones cover is from some polaroids that Andy had taken. I'm not sure Andy even knew which photo he chose. Or that it was me. Someone thought that would be a good one for the cover. I knew it was me. I know it is me. I've seem myself, and I've seen myself photographed down there. I know how I photograph. Those were my jeans. Levis. The inside is not me. Different person completely. We've had a lot of people from the Factory say it's them. There been some debate. I don't know how it was done – if Andy just shot the crotch or if it was from a full length cropped… . but I know I recognize that square on my body. (Laughs). The Smiths album cover is from the movie Flesh. They just took an image from it. Apparently, the band were fans of the movie. I've met them but I don't know more than that.
On being on the cover of Rolling Stone and his private life:
They did a story about me living in the Village, and life with my wife. There's a picture [on the cover] of me holding my son. I didn't go to too many of the big, crazy social Factory parties. I think Paul recognized I might have a problem with drinking at a couple of the early parties, so he would tell me I wasn't allowed to drink. If I couldn't drink I didn't want to go to. I was at the Factory a lot, but more in the day, creating, not in the night going crazy. I was very young. I just had to trust the people I was learning from. I have no regrets.
Hollywood Forever screening schedule
Friday January 17th – 7:30pm – Flesh – with Q&A and After Party
Saturday January 18th – 6:30pm – Trash – with Q&A
Saturday January 18th – 9:30pm – Heat – with Q&A
Sunday January 19th – 6:30pm – Little Joe, the unreleased documentary – with Q&A