14 things you probably didn’t know about Netflix’s Tiger King

Tiger King Joe Exotic (C) Netflix

Tiger King Joe Exotic (C) Netflix - Credit: Courtesy of NETFLIX

Tiger King: 14 things you probably didn’t know about the Netflix mega hit including where you can find a Joe Exotic Presidential campaign condom.

Carole Baskin, Tiger King (C) Netflix

Carole Baskin, Tiger King (C) Netflix - Credit: Netflix

The timing for Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness literally couldn’t have been better – just as lockdowns across the UK and USA began, Netflix’s new documentary dropped.

And alongside it dropped the collective jaws of all those who watched it (beware: spoilers ahead).

Nothing beats existential dread like watching a long-running feud between a mullet and satin blouse-wearing, polygamous country and western star with a zoo full of exotic cats and an animal rights activist who he believes fed her former husband to a tiger.

And then you can add into the mix Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who owns Myrtle Beach Safari and who has lots of girlfriends (and rides an elephant), Joe’s husbands, Joe’s former campaign manager (who hated working for him), an employee whose arm was ripped off by a big cat and Joe’s nemesis, Carole.

Joe Exotic, Tiger King (C) Netflix

Joe Exotic, Tiger King (C) Netflix - Credit: Netflix

Tiger King is the weird watch of 2020 thus far, a rollercoaster of oddities that keeps on delivering, episode after episode. But if you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms for the show, here are some facts about the show to tide you over until that bonus episode drops…

14 Things you didn’t know about Netflix’s crazy hit show Tiger King

Tiger King - Carole Baskin (C) Netflix

Tiger King - Carole Baskin (C) Netflix - Credit: Netflix

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1) The alligators who met a dreadful end in the fire at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park had come from an even more famous zoo: Some of the creatures who died had once belonged to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. The alligators and crocodiles had once lived at Neverland ranch and were acquired by a former manager at Wynnewood after the ranch closed. As if this story needed another sensational narrative arc.

2) Eagle-eyed viewers may have recognised Joe Exotic from 2011’s America’s Most Dangerous Pets hosted by national treasure-in-waiting Louis Theroux. He did not mention his theory about Carole Baskin to Louis, sadly.

3) Joe Exotic used to be a police sheriff: After leaving high school – and when he was living with a girlfriend – Joe became police sheriff in Eastvale, Texas. It was there, when he was struggling with being secretly gay, that he claims he ran his police cruiser into a concrete bridge embankment in an attempt to commit suicide during a bout of depression. After recovering, he moved to Florida and a new life.

4) Joe Exotic didn’t actually sing any of those songs: In Tiger King we watch Joe performing a range of lovely songs, including the moving ballad ‘I Saw a Tiger’ and the frankly astonishing ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ which shows a Carole Baskin lookalike using tongs to feed a tiger what looks like human flesh. These songs are actually performed by a duo which goes under the name of the Clinton Johnson Band. Songwriter Vince Johnson is credited with writing some of Joe’s songs. It is Joe lip-synching, though.

5) Doc Antle has performed on stage with Britney Spears: The Myrtle Beach Safari park owner was on stage with Ms Spears at the 2001 MTV VMAs – that’s his albino Burmese python she’s wearing as a scarf and he’s in the cage with the tiger that’s behind her.

6) Joe Exotic is currently under coronavirus isolation in a Texas prison where he is serving a 22-year sentence for animal abuse and his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot. He was placed there after inmates at the prison where he was previously held tested positive for the virus, his husband Dillon Passage told the press.

7) The accident which robbed John Reinke of his legs was HORRIFIC. Reinke was testing a bungee jumping ride in April 1994 in Texas when a pulley malfunctioned, sending him falling 55ft feet. He crushed both his legs and landed on a six-inch metal stake that pierced his colon and his stomach. While he recovered from the fall, both legs were later amputated.

8) Carole Baskin’s former husband Don Lewis’ case is still open: Within the last few days, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister sent out a tweet asking for help with the case. The facts remain that Don filed a restraining order against Carole, claiming she threatened to kill him and was in possession of two guns, two months before he went missing, never to be seen again. In 1998, Don’s children went public with a theory that their stepmother had fed Don to tigers. Odds on that series two of Tiger King will be called Tiger QUEEN.

9) A second season hasn’t been ruled out: Producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin have said the story could easily be continued as it will unfold further in the months and years to come. And, of course, Joe Exotic does have access to a phone in prison…and according to Jeff Lowe, who now runs Joe’s former zoo, there will be an extra episode dropping really soon.

10) There are already plans for a mini-series: Inspired by the podcast from Wondery, Joe Exotic: Tiger King, which was hosted by journalist Robert Moor (it’s great – very detailed and includes an incredible story about a sheep sprayed orange and black to look like a tiger in a magic trick).

11) John Finlay now has teeth: Topless John, one of Joe’s husbands who later admitted that he was straight and is now engaged to a woman and working as a welder, has recently been given a brand new set of teeth. They’re dentures and he’s annoyed that the Netflix series didn’t show him with them: “they had the footage,” he claims.

12) Joe Exotic had LOTS of husbands: The first is believed to have been a man called Brian Rhyne who he set up his zoo with and who was the first to collect big cats with Joe. Sadly, Brian passed away in 2001, after which Joe became far more flamboyant. Jeffrey Charlies JC Hartpence was Joe’s second husband and helped to develop Joe’s shows – he is now serving a life sentence in prison for first-degree murder. John Finlay was next and then another man, Paul, moved in. After Paul was Travis, who started working at the zoo in 2013 following a battle with an addiction to meth and who accidentally shot himself at the age of 23. Two months later, Joe married Dillon Passage who is currently standing by his husband as he serves his prison term.

13) Before working on the Joe Exotic documentary (all of which was destroyed by fire) director Rick Kirkham made a documentary about himself: TV Junkie is a documentary which chronicles Rick’s drug addiction from video diary footage, focusing on the seven years in which he and his family struggled with his addiction to crack cocaine. It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and was the subject of a lawsuit by his ex-wife Tammie. The director claimed to have interviewed President George H W Bush while high on crack.

14) You can buy a Joe Exotic Presidential Campaign Condom for $500 on eBay: Unused.