Although no one could have or would have predicted it in the heady halcyon days of Warhol’s Factory, the most resilient and enduring of the “living legends” to arise from the era, Joe Dallesandro, still continues to weather all storms unbent and unbroken.
Some would even say that the House of Dallesandro exists and endures because it does what Warhol never quite managed…. it nurtures art instead of operating outside of it or above it.
If you are one of the few people alive who is NOT familiar with the name and you participated in modern American pop culture in the last few decades, chances are you were influenced by them somehow.
Seems like a tall order to fill?
Consider that when Lou Reed recently passed, Joe had to take the extraordinary measure of publicly explaining just how one of the characters he portrayed in Andy Warhol’s films became a subject of the rock anthem “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”.
Mr Dallesandro had become inundated with questions and wanted to set the record straight….
I’ve gotten over 100 messages about the Lou Reed song “Take A Walk On The Wild Side” trying to understand it’s meaning from interviews Lou gave over the years. All I know about the song is it was written after I was no longer with the Warhol Factory and had a film career in Italy and France. I never knew who Lou Reed was when the song came out and besides seeing me in the films he watched, he did not know me either. I do know that Paul Morrissey suggested Lou write a song about the characters portrayed in the films he made, specifically Trash, Flesh and Heat and I am not certain if any people in those films ever met Lou Reed prior to the song being written.
Of course the lyric in question is
Little Joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City’s 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.”
Younger music lovers will recognize similar styling and imagery from Madonna’s homage to him, “Deeper and Deeper”. Styled as Jane Forth, Madonna moves through a Studio 54 dance floor, one of Mr Dallesandro’s more famous stomping grounds. The male model dancing on a bed to an adoring Madonna is of course modeled after Warhol’s bad boy, Mr Joe Dallesandro.
While Madonna asked him to appear in the video of the song, he declined.
Long ago he had learned the hard way.
While he became the face of a movement and the man that would symbolize the new american male sexuality of the seventies, most of his work and labor had been licensed and trademarked by others. I know one or two of you may be asking out there… “who would say no to Madonna?”
Quite simply someone whose star rose long before hers and has survived and grown as hers has slowly faded, of course.
If anyone out there reading is still unsure if they were influenced by “little Joe”, one simply has to be told that he was the model for the most famous of all album covers, the 1971 Rolling Stones release, “Sticky Fingers”.
Joe not only had an illustrious film career spanning decades and continents (more recent works from the eighties and nineties include his role as Lucky Luciano from The Cotton Club and Mr. Hackett from the original John Waters film Cry Baby), his work as an art and fashion model has made him the insider’s insider. Working with every great photographer has made his visage part of the Pop American Culture.
In a world becoming jaded by celebrity, there are few impervious to the generous and kind yet aloof charms of Mr Dallesandro.
Enter the second half of the house of Dallesandro… the one and only… writer and lyricist Kim Dallesandro.
A legendary talent in her own right, she seems unwilling to be moved by even the largest of orbiting stars unless proven as worthy. Her wit and power as a wordsmith are matched only by her apparent lack of need for even sleep… She is a rocket fueled dynamo moving through the capitals of the world and the international music scene as one of of its most beloved members. From rocking out with Dylan in Berlin, to enjoying the Los Angeles art scene with Punk Icon, Ginger Coyote, Kim Dallesandro writes her own ticket to ride. The native Texan recently confided this to the Punk Globe about her early days….
There was a ‘gang’ of us that moved from night club to night club following different bands: Monday night the One Knite (Storm), Tuesday night Soap Creek, like that and I was part of that due primarily to my marriage to RC Banks who was a member of many bands during the heyday of the ’70’s. Every band that played switched members and I came to know the best of the best which has been both a curse and a blessing; I’m very spoiled when it comes to music and have very high expectations.
The couple married 28 years ago, and while they have been open about many highs and lows in their lives over the years, the love remains and is easy to observe to even the most casual of outsiders.
With all the cumulative experience and achievements of the House of Dallesandro, you would think that they would be willing to rest on their laurels, yet this seems to just not be in their nature.
Producing a line of shirts designed by emerging artists, they never seem to tire of finding new talent and reveling in the discovery of new found art and artists. Sharing the benefits of success and shining light on artists worthy of acknowledgement places them squarely at the center of a productive circle of artists and art patronage, all the while more eager and ready to praise others than accept it for themselves.
If anyone ever asks what becomes a legend most….all you really need to know is the name Dallesandro.
In a week, three new commissioned shirts will be released and although only one hundred of each of them will be signed and sold, it is a foregone conclusion that careers will rise on these designs as art collectors around the globe compete to snap up the new designs.
The House of Dallesandro remains true to the best of the old art world ways…. yet forever forging into new territory finding new undiscovered talent.