Joe Simmons (July 11, 1959 – October 2, 1995) was the screen name of Thomas Williams, an African-American male model and actor in gay-themed pornography.
Simmons was born in Yonkers, New York, and spent much of his childhood in reform school because of “emotional disturbances.”
He went to New York City as an adult and studied acting for two years. He developed a skill set that included dancing, singing, and playing the piano and guitar. He appeared in five off Broadway musicals and also worked in construction, building props and stage sets.
Simmons took up bodybuilding, adopting a 90-minute 4-day-a-week training regimen. He met Robert Mapplethorpe and was the subject of a series of photographs featured in Mapplethorpe’s museum exhibitions and traveling displays. Simmons also modeled for photos published in Playgirl (as Anthony Williams) and Playguy magazines.
Simmons learned he was HIV-positive in 1994 and informed his mother and 11 siblings at a Thanksgiving gathering. His family was very supportive and the news is said to have strengthened family ties.
Simmons died of AIDS complications in St. Vincent’s Medical Center on October 2, 1995, aged 36.