Tiger King: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Netflix Hit


Tiger King: murder, chaos and madness is a brand new documentary series that has managed to do the impossible: temporarily distract a stressed nation by facing the coronavirus epidemic. Currently streaming on Netflix, the seven-episode series, directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, focuses on Joseph Maldonado-Passage – aka Joe Exotic – and his Oklahoma exotic animal park. Monday was the # 1 show on the streaming network.

When the show begins, Joe has an impressive blond mule, a flamboyant wardrobe, several husbands at the same time and a raging feud with Carole Baskin, owner of a large cat sanctuary. It’s all as tame as a bowl of hot milk compared to what comes next. Each element of Tiger King becomes stranger, and every personality that comes in front of the camera has a secret, an incredibly strange event in their history, or dozens of each. Joe runs for president and governor, tries a career in country music, makes bizarre videos suggesting that his rival fed her missing husband to tigers and so on, much more.

Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic have an exploding feud in the Netflix Tiger King series.

Courtesy of Netflix

There is a strange comfort in taking refuge in this specific mark of American madness. For viewers who isolate themselves at home, it is a reminder that the world was weird in so many different ways before the coronavirus. God willing and the stream does not go up, he will one day have the chance to become so bizarre again.

Since the series’s release on March 20, dozens of news and interviews have dug into the real people and events behind the series. A few spoilers to come, but if you’ve ever watched the series, read on for nine juicy tracks that the show itself hasn’t revealed.

1. It’s (mostly) not Joe’s song

In several episodes, Joe boasts of his singing career and songs like “I Saw a Tiger” are heard. But anyone with ears can say that the polite, veteran country music voice singing the tunes is not like the dragging speaking voice of Joe Exotic. The real musicians Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton were the real musical power behind Joe’s Milli Vanilli’s act. Johnson told Vanity Fair they were working for free, thinking they would gain fame from a reality show about Joe’s life. (Clinton passed away in October, reports TMZ.) The directors of the show, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, told the LA Times that a fact checker had discovered that Joe had sung somewhat on certain songs, so they chose not to call him about it in the show.

2. Don’t blame the tiger for that missing hand

In the first episode, Kelci Saffery, one of Joe’s employees, is seen immediately after being bitten by a tiger. Saffery chooses to amputate the injured hand rather than undergo numerous operations, returns to work five days later and presents himself throughout the show with a stump. Saffery has said from the start that no one should blame the tiger and, although it was not mentioned in the episode, the tiger was not killed. In a 2013 statement, Saffery said, “I broke the protocol and locked my hand in a cat cage instead of using the stick provided. Actor David Spade interviewed Saffery in a video released on March 27. “I just became complacent,” said Saffery of the injury. And the tiger didn’t pay the ultimate price for the bite. “(The tiger) was not slaughtered, we just moved it out of the park, off display,” said Saffery.

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3. John Finlay repaired his teeth

David Spade, who admitted to being obsessed with the series, not only interviewed Saffery, but also a number of other members of the Tiger King cast, including John Finlay, one of Joe Exotic’s romantic partners . Finlay was remarkable in the series for having only a few visible teeth, but now he has full dentures and is almost unrecognizable. “It took a while,” he told Spade. “But after fixing them the right way, they were perfect. Finlay told Spade that he thought getting his teeth repaired was more painful than getting 51 tattoos tattooed and that Joe’s idea of ​​marriage to three newlyweds in pink shirts was on the show.

4. These alligators were famous

Tiger King is primarily concerned with big cats, although residents of the park’s reptiles have a sad story in one of the episodes when their pen caught fire. John Finlay told David Spade in his video interview that some of the exotic animal park alligators were from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. He also said that working with crocodiles and alligators was more dangerous than working with big cats, in part because of the giant and threatening tail of reptiles. Finlay also said that he had no contact with Joe Exotic at all, that he planned to cover all of Joe’s tattoos and that he was engaged to a woman now.


Courtesy of Netflix

5. The accident that took John Reinke’s legs was even worse than the one described

John Reinke, former director of Joe Exotic Animal Park, is shown several times putting on and taking off his artificial legs, explaining that he needs them not because of a cat attack, but because of ” a previous accident. Like everything in Tiger King, this is only half the dramatic story. In 2010, Reinke explained his accident to the newspaper The Oklahoman. Although he describes it as a zipline accident in the series, the article describes it as a bungee jumping accident – it certainly involved a fall from a terrifying height. Not only did a pulley malfunction cause Reinke to fall 55 feet to the ground and crush his legs, but he didn’t just land on the ground. He fell on a 6-inch metal stake, piercing his colon and stomach, the newspaper reported. Later, he underwent more than 20 foot and leg operations.

6. Shaq is not Joe Exotic’s friend

Tiger King becomes so bizarre that viewers may forget that NBA star Shaquille O’Neal appears briefly in an episode. But on March 25, O’Neal said on The Big Podcast with Shaq that the two are not friends. He said he loves tigers and has visited the park a few times but “he has no idea what is going on.” He said he still loves animals and has made donations to support them, but that he is not close to Joe Exotic. “I was just a visitor,” O’Neal said on the podcast. “I met this guy, not my friend, I don’t know him, I never had a business relationship with him. And don’t go to the athlete’s house hoping to see big cats, although he can certainly afford it. “Do I personally own tigers at home?” Said O’Neal. ” No. “

7. Petting the cubs has a dark side

Joe Exotic earns money by charging visitors to come to his exotic animal park and take pictures with the cubs. But directors and screenwriters Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin told the L.A. Times that they never gave in and petted the baby cats, especially after what they saw. “Most of the tigers around us have been subjected to abject cruelty,” said Chaiklin. “We saw babies being taken from their mothers and screaming. They would get sick from being manipulated and get ringworm and scabies. It was disturbing. “

8. Carole’s missing husband is still missing

Much of the series focuses on Joe Exotic’s sworn enemy, activist Carole Baskin, whose husband Don Lewis disappeared in 1997. Joe Exotic, who is currently serving 22 years in prison on Baskin-related charges, says repeatedly in the series that Baskin killed James and fed the remains of his big cats. On the Big Cat Rescue website, her animal organization, Baskin refutes the way she was portrayed in the documentary. “(The directors) made fun of the truth,” she says. “Unsavory lies are better for attracting viewers. As for Don James himself, his disappearance remains a mystery. Monday, Hillsborough, Florida Sheriff Chad Chronister even tweeted a request for anyone with leads in the case of calling it.

9. Joe likes advertising. Duh.

You couldn’t watch more than a minute of Tiger King and realize that Joe Exotic loves fame and publicity. Even though he’s now in prison, the directors told The L.A. Times that Joe knew the show made him famous and that he was overjoyed. “He is absolutely thrilled with the series and the idea of ​​being famous,” Goode told the newspaper. “He is absolutely delighted. And the directors don’t buy Joe’s sudden change of heart. “He’s in a cage and of course he’s going to say that he now recognizes what he did to these animals,” said Goode.


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