Netflix’s Tiger King, by virtue of its bizarre ensemble and relentless deluge of gob-smacking twists, is about as addictive a docuseries as one could desire in these trying times. A story of big cat enthusiasts and the roiling squabbles that consume them, the series centers around Joe Exotic, the Oklahoman proprietor of a private zoo, and Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist who operates her own big cat rescue organization, despite the alleged darkness of her past. It’s Joe, however, that steals the show, and while, yes, he more often than not comes across as terrifyingly unhinged—he sure loves threatening to put a bullet between people’s eyes, doesn’t he?—it’s easy to be swept into the gravitational pull of his personality, especially when there’s three tigers draped across his body.
A man with many hyphenates, Joe Exotic is, in addition to being a zookeeper and polygamist, also a country musician. A number of his music videos are featured in the documentary, and his official YouTube channel contains a great many more, all of which feature chintzy, aggressively earnest videos for songs that are catchier than you’d like to admit.
Let’s enjoy a few, shall we?
Perhaps you find Joe Exotic’s tiger care and breeding exploitive and irresponsible. That’s a valid POV, and something the documentary most assuredly investigates. You can’t deny, however, that the big kitties are cuddly as all hell in the video for “I Saw A Tiger,” easily Joe Exotic’s most digestible clip. In between shots of Joe strumming atop an emergency vehicle in an open field, the singer nuzzles, rubs, and rolls around with baby tigers and their terrifyingly large parents.
And then you’ve got “Here Kitty Kitty,” a murder balled in which a priest-collared Joe Exotic sings about Baskin killing her ex-husband and feeding his body to her tigers. “Here kitty kitty, mommy’s got some treats for you,” he sings. “Here kitty kitty, you can’t find this taste in the zoo.” This is fucked up!
His Baskin stand-in, meanwhile, counts cash and cackles as she feeds the animals raw meat and loose hands from a platter festooned with a decapitated head. At least the tiger looks happy?
This video for “Because You Love Me” is notable primarily for how it ropes in a bunch of the visitors to his zoo, who had to sit and smile politely as he lip-synced behind them, hands gently touching their shoulders. Awkward, yes, but a small price to pay for stardom.
As we learn in the docuseries, Joe was, at one point, married to two different men. That doesn’t stop him, however, from singing this ode to his “first love, the one that’s gonna last.” Though Joe sings most of the song to a flickering candle, the clip does feature a cameo from John, the tattooed lover who plays a pretty large role in the documentary.
This one is wild. A raucous rockabilly anthem suited for your local honky tonk, the clip finds Joe Exotic escaping into a limousine as a gang of women tear his clothes from his body. Elsewhere in the video he sleazily carouses with a pair of country girls and gyrates atop a tattoo parlor to an adoring crowd, a stormy sky raging above them.
Sure, you can roll your eyes at Joe, a 50-something man with a dyed mullet, being fawned over by a gaggle of lusty women, but that would ignore one of the documentary’s core truths: Women love tigers. Just ask Bhagavan.
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