Call Me Joe

Nathan James
3 min readJun 11, 2021

Sometimes, on the journey a gay man takes through life, the trip becomes the destination, and that’s certainly true for Joe Mannetti, an out actor, journalist, and LGBTQ community advocate. Joe, whose exploits have ranged from adult films to mental health outreach work and HIV awareness advocacy, has never sought the quick, easy path to recognition or notoriety. Yet, his swim-upstream approach has gained him distinction and a little bit of controversy, which he welcomes. “I’ve always tried to do the kind of work that has substance, and uplifts the community,” Joe reflects, “Not necessarily to always be in the spotlight. Upsetting the status quo is one way Joe gets people talking.

During his adult-film career, Joe took the unexpected step of performing in a gay erotic video with Buck Angel, a trans male performer, when others in the genre shunned him. “ “I was championing the rights of Transgender people before the majority of others were doing it. People back then recognized that about me. That is how I wound up working with Buck Angel,” joe notes. This is not at all unusual for Joe, whose experience spans both coasts and a wide variety of roles. Joe also evolved into a well-known figure in the leather bear scene, winning several titles for his acting and engagement with the community.

Joe Mannetti/Hotspots

Although born a Michigander, Joe spent 24 years in the Los Angeles gay community, among Hollywood stars and ordinary LGBTQ people alike. Fiercely independent, Joe shook off the homophobia he dealt with growing up on Long Island, and gradually made a name for himself, and amassing a growing fan following as a movie and TV personality. Along the way, Joe was always an advocate for the marginalized and vulnerable, raising awareness about bullying, living with HIV, LGBT POC issues, and other causes behind which he put his words and work. Unafraid to speak out even when it ewas perhaps iconoclastic to do so, Joe has always been a champion of the underdog.

Returning to the New York City area, Joe retained his focus on the community, working to support groups like Iris House and the RDJ Refugee Shelter. Just before the pandemic started to rewrite the narrative of our lives, Joe suffered a devastating spinal injury that required an extended period of convalescence. Yet he found light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of recovery: an old producer friend from his LA days reached out to him last year, to inquire about doing his biography. The upcoming fim, entitled Call Me Joe, will be an unflinching look at the reality of his life. “I was so overwhelmed and amazed by that offer,” Mannetti says, “and I can’t wait to begin that process.” Look for the biopic later next year. Joe continues to follow his own path — “I’m very much a loner,” he admits — but always has his eyes set on enriching the lives of others. As a bear who cares, we’ll be sure to see Joe’s imprint on our lives for years to come!

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Nathan James

Nathan James is an LGBTQ, journalist, playwright, and radio personality. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/nathanjamesFB, or on Twitter as @RealNathanJames