By Michael Westman

joe-putignano-ged-0917-721013169_329443103855650_1060462254_nJoe Putignano wears many hats… gymnast, acrobat, dancer, actor, personal trainer, author, student, and recovering addict. The cover model of our inaugural ‘INK’ issue has a very powerful message of determination, dedication and recovery. His layers of life experiences are in his bestselling memoir Acrobaddict. Acrobaddict is a story about the close relationship between athletics and drug addiction; how the same energy, obsession, and dedication that can create an Olympic athlete can also create a homeless drug addict. Joe discusses pushing through the darkness, and how the human spirit can help each of us push through darkness.

Putignano is a performing artist and contortionist who has toured with Cirque du Soleil. He was one of the original cast members for Cirque du Soleil’s Totem, and he helped create the two roles he starred in – Crystal Man and Darwin’s monkey. He has performed on Broadway in The Times They Are A’changin’ by Twyla Tharp, and in a number of stage productions with the Metropolitan Opera House. Since 1987 he has won numerous state and regional gymnastics championships, and trained at the Olympic Training Center. Putignano has been featured on Anderson Cooper360, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, ABC, CBS, Headlining News, Huffington Post, CTV Canada, National Brazil TV Global, and others. Putignano has also appeared on various TV shows, soap operas, modeled for many magazines, and is currently attending an accelerated program for nursing with the ultimate goal on becoming a nurse practitioner.

REV-bw72Starting at eight years old, Putignano taught himself back flips onto couch cushions in the basement of his parent’s home in Massachusetts. He went on to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, encountering the insane quest for perfection. His addictions emerged in college in continued post-college, where Putignano was twice declared clinically dead. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, had this to say about Putignano and Acrobaddict, “You will not read a more candid book this year. Prepare to be frightened and taken to the depths of despair and then lifted up triumphantly. It is never too late to hit the reset button on your life – that is what you are about to learn from Joe Putignano . He is equally adept at taking you through the remarkable journey of his own terrible addiction as he is in the world of acrobatics, descending from the Cirque du Soleil big top as a human mirror ball – the figurative spark of change in humanity.”

Putignano says that, “The appeal (to heroin) is the euphoria and that there is no pain. As people we always have a little bit of pain – ‘our head hurts’ or ‘our knee hurts’ – then you take a substance that completely annihilates any pain you have – emotionally and physically.” Putignano’s raw and emotional tale is a roller coaster through addiction, tragedy, hard work, and redemption. “I tried and failed so many times, but you cannot give up because it’s your life at stake,” says Putignano.

You can follow this inspirational and gorgeous man on Twitter and Instagram @JoePutignano, and at

Photos by: Joseph Vumbaco – Joee Vee Photography – Instagram @joeeveephotography

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