Who Is Really Behind ‘Tiger King’ Star Joe Exotic’s Songs?
If you’re one of the many Netflix subscribers who have tuned into the platform’s new docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, you’re well aware of Joe Exotic (a.k.a. Joseph Maldonado-Passage) and all that comes with him.
The former owner of the GW Zoo in Oklahoma was sentenced to 22 years in prison over an alleged murder-for-hire plot against his arch-nemesis, Big Cat Rescue’s Carole Baskin. Coupled with various counts of animal cruelty, this oddball celebrity has become the talk of true-crime doc lovers.
But that only scratches the surface of Exotic’s story and the characters associated with him. Along with supplying odd gifts in his zoo’s souvenir shop, ranging from underwear to honey, he also sold CDs with his own original country music tracks.
Featuring tiger-specific tracks such as “I Saw a Tiger” and “Here Kitty Kitty” (both of which were featured in the doc), the tunes include some smooth vocals. But for those who believe it was really Exotic singing, they’re in for a surprise because apparently others were responsible for the catchy numbers.
According to Vanity Fair, the men behind the songs are Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton. Joe Exotic is said to have approached them under the guise of needing personalized tracks for a reality show that never was released.
“It was absolutely ridiculous,” TV producer Rick Kirkham, who for Exotic’s TV network and was featured in the docuseries, tells the magazine. He also revealed that one time, “Joe got a little bit drunk and high, and we actually coaxed him into singing part of one of the songs. He couldn’t even hold a tune.”
Johnson and Clinton weren’t as easygoing about their deal with Exotic when they discovered his music videos cited him as the artist. They eventually they stopped making songs for him. “I had no idea he was going to Milli Vanilli the songs,” Johnson writes to Vanity Fair in an email.
As viewers of the docuseries know, Exotic created multiple music videos featuring him and other zoo staffers, including with ex-husband John Finlay. Lip-syncing to the tracks, Exotic presents himself as a country star with a heart for big cats in “I Saw a Tiger” and he appears in the petty video “Here Kitty Kitty” that includes a Carole Baskin lookalike.
“It was a couple of months and two or three songs [into the collaboration] when I was on YouTube one night and just happened to look up Joe Exotic. And there he was, lip-syncing and acting like the ghost of Elvis… He bamboozled me about his reality show,” Johnson continues, before claiming that Exotic said, “It was coming soon and he would make everything right as rain. I just wanted the proper credit.”
This revelation is just one of many when it comes to Netflix’s Tiger King. Let us know what you think about the reveal in the comments below.
Tiger King, Streaming now, Netflix