Joe Putignano

Stunning Joe Putignano is an American acrobat, gymnast, contortionist, aerialist and model from Raynham, Massachusetts who now lives in New York City.

Scott Marrs

Joe trained in hand balancing and contortion at Jonathan Nosan’s performance design firm Acroback.
He was performing in Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera when he was discovered by famous Canadian director Robert Lepage.

 Matt Barnes

Jonathan Nosan

 Joe is currently touring with Cirque du Soleil and starring in Totem at the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK, in the roles of Crytal Man and Monkey King

 Thomas Synnamon

This exceptionally fit (and flexible) man is in top shape and with his young looking gorgeous looks, it is very difficult to believe that this magnificent athlete will turn 35 this year!

 Scott Marrs

 Joe’s amazing strength of character helped him overcome the hardship of his younger years; and this has made him the beautiful person he is today.

 Scott Marrs

 We couldn’t be more thrilled and honoured to feature Joe at Stunning Men and we know that you will see what a magnificent man he is!

Andrew Brucker

The accompanying video (see bottom of the page) and Joe’s interview with Stunning Men will give you a great insight into his world.

 Scott Marrs

Nizar Trisakti

Joe's full interview with Stunning Men

Stunning Men – Joe, this is such a pleasure and an honour to welcome you to
Stunning Men and be able to interview you.
Joe Putignano – Thank you, it’s my pleasure.

SM – You are currently in London, starring in Totem with Cirque du Soleil. How did you become an acrobat and contortionist?
JP –I started gymnastics when I was 8 years old and competed nationally until I was 18. I stopped athletics during this time and never wanted to do another handstand, back flip or split again. I was finished with the sport and all its difficulties. When I was 27, I was working at the New York Times newspaper and read an article about a contortionist. I was mesmerised by this art form, and out of sheer curiosity decided to take a class. I fell back in love with a romance I swore to never embrace again. I set a goal and worked relentlessly to achieve it, failing miserably, time and time again, but ultimately never giving up.

SM – You have been in this show for over two years, the training regime must be intense!
JP – The training regime is very intense, but I often overtrain. Lifting weights has become a cathartic therapy for me. It’s me and my iPod, the music, the weights, the destination and I am the only obstacle in its path. I am confronting myself in the physical form and this meditation becomes my perfect solitude.

SM – You have done a fair amount of modelling too; how did this come about?
JP – I did a show in New York City called Broadway Bares and a photographer named Adam Raphael came up to me and said, “I have to shoot you, I won’t take no for an answer.”

SM – How different is it from acrobatics? I mean how do you see the whole modelling thing compared to performing?
JP – Modelling and performing are very different elements of expression. Performing acrobatics in Cirque du Soleil envelopes all of my physical being. It’s the kind of situation where I push myself from the depths of my soul; however the audience can only see the kinetic body because I’m covered in a mask. Modelling on the other hand is an expression where I get to expose a glimmer of who I am through images, trying to shine a moment or perception of who I am in that frame of time. However, at the end of the day I am neither of these things, but honoured to have different platforms of expression.

SM – How do you prepare before a shoot?
JP – Before a shoot, I’ll do a quick full body work out to get the blood pumping. The most important thing for me in a shoot is the music. It doesn’t matter what kind of music, but there has to be something to conjure up and express.

SM – What do you enjoy the most about modelling? You have worked with some amazing photographers. Do you have a favourite shoot?
JP – I have to say that I loved working with all the photographers I shoot with, but what makes them my favourite isn’t so much the pictures created, but the enthusiasm and passion they bring to the shoot. I love seeing other people exuberant about their work and when they have this quality it makes me want to thrive in my own endeavours. It’s a beautiful thing. I love seeing creativity take control of the situation and to see our own ego surrender to this authentic power. This to me is one of the sweet flavours in the honey of life.

SM – You have just finished writing a book: Acrobaddict: A Contortionist's Heroin Romance ... Could you tell us what motivated you to write it?
JP – This story wanted to be told. After competing in gymnastics around the age of 17, I became a falling down Cocaine, Klonopin, and Alcoholic, which ultimately led me to Heroin. I had an endless struggle through the catacombs of Hell but through persistence, desperation, and unconditional love from many bright lights, I got clean. Through that time I kept journals through the darkest parts of my past, documenting every scar and battle. I had been writing since I was young, an art-form that fully enveloped my entire being, and people often told me, “You have to write your story, not for yourself, but because it may help others.” I have to admit, I was a little unsure about writing a memoir, but the story itself haunted me until I finished it. The entire experience was humbling and I am quite proud of the end result.  Through my past and pain, I have created another version of myself built structurally through metaphors and personifications. In an essence: it is a literary Joe.

SM – When will it be available?
JP – If the Gods are good to me, it should be available in a year.

SM – The video about you is an amazing insight into your life and you come across as an incredibly open and honest person. Should we expect the same frankness in the book?
JP – Yes, the book goes into the dark parts of myself, opening up a mirror to the reader, to ultimately see the truth of who we are: nothing human is ugly. Most of us are experiencing the same degrees of pain, anxiety and sadness. It is only through our lenses that we exhibit these emotions, but many of us have found unique ways to hide our pain. What I’m essentially saying is: we are truly ... all the same.

SM – Besides performing and modelling, what gets your interest and what are your hobbies? If you have any time left, that is!
JP – I have a very limited amount of free time on tour, and if I have time I will try and seek out other forms of inspirations to fill the well of creativity. I do have an unusually busy demeanour, and because of this I am not very social. I do miss out on some events the other cast members enjoy, but I lived an entire life of excessive pleasure and am now doing something different. I just started a fiction book about Eugenics called, “The Day Heaven Fell”, but it’s still in its conceptual phase, so lately I’ve just been walking around with my iPod trying to find the hidden muse’s behind the story. I wish I were more social, but the work and art demands my vessel at the moment and if I don’t surrender to it, I don’t sleep well (Joe laughs).

SM – What do you do to have fun and relax?
JP – Relaxing? Are you serious? (Stunning Men laugh!)

SM – Do you have any role models? People who inspire you?
JP – My role models tend to be mundane and humble, mainly people I work with or who work with me in sobriety. Sometimes I see someone at my job who has been working hard for months, and they then become role models. I guess I’m always walking towards the light of the human soul because I’ve lived the alternative.

SM – Now a few fun questions if we may? Do you think you are a good date?
JP – Do I think I’m a good date? Hmmm ... I guess I’m the wrong person to ask that question and you would have to ask the dater. However, I’m not dating at the moment and I am working through the parts of myself that I don’t know so well. Nothing like writing around the question, but it is time for me to do this deep spiritual work.

SM – What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
JP – You will have to read the book to know what the craziest thing I’ve ever done was. (Joe gives us his beautiful sexy smile)

SM – Are you a brief man or a boxer kinda guy?
JP – I am a brief man, definitely.

SM – What kind of music do you listen to on your iPod?
JP – I am addicted to music, but usually go back to the music I listened to as a teen. I was one of those alternative 90’s kids, so the music that comforts me is definitely alternative rock.

SM – One last question Joe, where do you see yourself and what would you like to be doing in 10 years time?
JP – In ten years I see myself still writing, as it is my strongest voice. In the next few years I will try other forms of art, hopefully in the physical sense, but will do my best to keep trying to help others achieve sobriety. After all, it is my life’s purpose and I am honoured and blessed I know what my purpose it.

SM – Joe, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. All the best with the show and the tour! And a very happy new year to you!

Also visit Joe in Facebook!

See more of the photographers' work here:
Thomas Synnamon
Scott Marrs 
 Andrew Brucker
 Michael Dweck
 Jonathan Nosan