In the midst of a constant whirlwind of new coronavirus claims, the surreal story of a private zoo keeper wearing mules calling himself “Joe Exotic” – now in prison for murder for reporting – has captivated a nation stuck on the couch.
Tiger King: murder, chaos and madness – featuring a menagerie of felines, wacky employees and unsuitable amateurs – is one Planet of animals and part breaking Bad.
And this is absolutely true.
While the vast majority of Americans have been ordered to stay at home to curb the spread of the deadly virus, the Netflix series on the real crime has become a must-watch for the masses.
The seven-part documentary, which premiered on March 20 and tops the list of Netflix trends in the United States, depicts the tumultuous world of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a 57-year-old amorous cat.
He made a small fortune in his dubious private zoo – then lost it all in a whirlwind of jealous feuds, mysterious fires, failed political campaigns and complicated murder plots.
Tiger king begins and ends in a prison in rural Oklahoma, where Joe Exotic was serving his 22-year sentence until he was transferred to a federal institution in Texas last week.
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But the story of how he got there – with one bizarre and shocking turn and one sordid pattern after another, all captured by cameras originally aimed at exposing animal abuse – turned Joe into something thing of a national anti-hero.
Fans dress up in feline costumes, have their hair cut Joe Exotic, and post photos of themselves with their pets – real and stuffed – on social media.
Rap star Cardi B said she wanted to raise funds to help reopen her case to get him out of prison – and then said she “was playing”, although she added: ” I like it. “
A range of actors take photos of Joe Exotic, although the directors of Tiger king say that Joe himself would like Brad Pitt or David Spade to do the honors.
The series has retired Shaquille O’Neal Basketball Hall of Fame. O’Neal appeared in the documentary, but insisted that he was just visiting.
“I don’t hurt tigers,” he said on his podcast. “I love tigers. (…) I was only a visitor. “
Just as the virus crisis fueled her stardom ticket, Joe has been kidnapped in a special prison wing due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, her husband said this week.
“She fed him tigers”
Joe’s zoo is full of tigers, lions, cougars, leopards and hybrid cats. Tourists paid to pet the cubs and watch the flaming zoo keeper – with several piercings and a pistol on their hip – play with them. He also sings.
Around Joe is a cast of colorful characters, including her husband almost toothless from methamphetamine abuse, a legless zoo keeper and an assistant who lost an arm to a tiger.
There is also a somewhat oblivious former Walmart manager who has seriously overseen Joe’s campaigns for the President and the Governor of Oklahoma. Yes, for the White House.
On the other side is Carole Baskin, the activist owner of Big Cat Rescue, based in Florida, who is determined to close Joe’s zoo because of her alleged backdoor activity in the illegal breeding of lions and tigers in sale.
Joe argues that Baskin is no better than he is – making money by showing caged cats to tourists who buy tickets. The two are waging an online and ultimately legal battle.
The two embrace a garish tiger and leopard print outfit.
Joe even accused the activist of the unsolved disappearance of her millionaire husband more than two decades ago.
“We think she fed him to the tigers,” says Joe.
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“He is very excited”
Joe is finally shot down by his desire to crush – and finally try to kill – Baskin.
He was found guilty of paying someone $ 3,000 to kill Baskin and served a long prison term in January.
Joe has since filed a massive lawsuit, claiming he was convicted on the back of false testimony.
And although he has no television in prison, he is aware of his unlikely glory overnight.
“Joe is someone who has always wanted to be a star, so he’s very excited that it got people’s attention the way he did,” Tiger king co-director Rebecca Chaiklin said The Hollywood Reporter.
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