Rick Kirkham on What Tiger King Didn’t Show, “Evil”, “Lonely” Life by Joe Exotic

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Thanks to the Netflix blockbuster “Tiger King” docuseries, Joe Exotic has become a sort of pop culture figure, with many viewers focusing on all the exaggerated aspects of his character, from his hair to his music videos and even his ridiculous rivalry with the great cat conservationist Carole Baskin .

In fact, in most of the memes that have been around, it’s Carole who was the nastiest in the documentary. Journalist and filmmaker Rick Kirkham – who appears in docuseries and spent a year living with Joe in his zoo where he filmed both Joe’s internet show and his own Joe-based reality show – says that They’re missing this guy’s real story.

It’s much deeper and much darker than people seem to have understood in the popular series. “You kind of had a little heart for the guy, but you really didn’t realize or saw how bad he could be,” Rick told David Spade on Wednesday. “Not just animals, but people. “

He added that life at the zoo was “much worse than what you saw in the documentary. They didn’t have enough time or enough pictures to show you how bad it was. “

Rick is only the latest actor in the series to be interviewed by Spade as part of his “Lights Out” Internet chats made in place of a traditional show due to the coronavirus pandemic. The loose structure of the conversations means a smoother conversation, which saw David allow Rick to speak continuously on a variety of exotic topics.

The conversation touched on everything from her suspicions about the studio fire that cost her all of her reality footage on Joe, some of the really dark footage that would have been lost in that fire, including cases of animal cruelty. shocking, by Rick.

According to Rick, Joe was an incredibly lonely man who had no real friends (for a long time) and was not even sure about his own sexuality, despite having married several men.

“It was not just any fire”

Viewers suspected that Joe had probably started the fire, or if it had started, which had cost Rick all the footage he had captured for his contract reality show about Joe and the zoo. They think it was done for several reasons. On the one hand, Joe may have been concerned that some images weren’t portraying him in the best light. Or maybe it was something else?

“Two days before the fire, Joe and I had a very bad fight over the fact that I had the rights to the reality show. I basically owned Joe Exotic, ”said Rick. “He was not happy and he made a quick turn and fled the city for a few days, supposedly for a funeral. “

According to Rick, Joe also changed the locks on the studio, which means Rick couldn’t get in without the park manager letting him in. And two days later, it all burned down. And it wasn’t just any fire either. “I have hard drives to back up all of the footage, but it was in a safe,” said Rick. “But it melted the safe, the fire was so hot.” “

“Kill animals for fun”

Viewers will never again see what was in some of the footage that Rick and his film crew captured during their stay with Joe, but he promises that it was much darker and more overwhelming than anything directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin captured for their docuseries.

“There were pictures of Joe killing animals for fun,” said Rick. “He approached a tiger he didn’t like and just shot him in the head. “

He then shared a truly heartbreaking story about a woman who brought her older horse to the zoo in a horse trailer.

“She cried and said,” Joe, could you take care of my horse? I can’t take care of him anymore and you have a lot of space, “said Rick. “He hugged her and said,” Oh yeah, honey, I’ll be fine. You leave the trailer, we will bring it back tomorrow. We will put him in the pasture and give him a good place. »»

“As soon as the lady left the park, Joe said,‘ Rick, take your camera, start driving, “said Rick. “And I rolled him over, he approaches the trailer, pulls his [gun] out, shoot the horse in the dead head and laugh … and of course, he fed this horse to the lions. “

“He didn’t know if he was gay”

While Joe put this larger-than-life figure out for the crowds at his zoo, and even for the cameras that always seemed to roll around in his life, Rick describes him as a very lonely man that no one really liked.

“The man had no friends,” he said. “He really had no friends because every time he has a friend, either he took money from them or he kind of fucked them up … The guy is really sad. “

One of the weirdest things to reveal about Joe was his lifestyle supposedly married to several men at the same time, as well as claims that these men weren’t even gay, that they were staying maybe with Joe only to access drugs, money and tigers, of all things.

Rick described the power of these big cats on people, saying, “There was a magnetic sensation that is very difficult to explain when you have a big cat in your hands. When you are able to hold a tiger, there is a lot of ego, a journey of power. It gave them a feeling of power that was almost like a peak in itself.

But apparently, according to Rick, they may not have been the only ones who weren’t gay. “He didn’t know if he was gay or not,” said Rick.

“He kept saying, ‘I’m gay,’ and what a redneck cowboy he was, but in the conversations I had personally when he cried, I would literally be lying on my shoulder and I would cry, he wouldn’t didn’t know what it was, “he continued. “He just knew he had a lot of money to go into the zoo in cash that he didn’t have to report and that he could buy his little boy toys and his drugs and everything. “

“Six months of therapy”

Rick seemed to be struggling with his own role in Joe’s behaviors at the zoo, or at least his complicity in inaction. He said he had basically thrown away his journalistic integrity and that in just a few months he had realized “what I was doing was not right”.

“I knew I had sold my own soul,” he said. “But I was still thinking, okay, I’m so far away, I’ve invested everything, I’m going to put on this show and I’m selling it for a million dollars and I’m going to fuck off Oklahoma. “

Even after leaving the zoo when things collapsed around Joe, Rick said it took him six months of therapy. “I was hospitalized for a week in a place in Dallas, Texas, just to get my head back straight,” admitted Rick. “It really bothered my head. “

Later in the interview, he even said that he expected to make it to the gates of paradise only to be turned away because of his involvement with “Tiger King” and Joe Exotic.

The seven-part series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” is the number one series on Neflix and quickly became a pop cultural phenomenon amid the coronavirus pandemic with millions of people quarantined or self-isolated in Their houses. All episodes are streaming now.

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