Ironically, Netflix‘s newest true crime phenomenon Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness includes a menagerie of oddballs. Sliding the zoological ‘cults’ of the American South under the microscope, this docuseries takes a look at the extraordinary escapades of big cat enthusiasts Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle.
Despite an unbelievable tale of arson, political campaigns and multi-million dollar lawsuits, it’s the handlebar-moustachioed Joe’s bizarre personality that lives longest in the memory. Scattered throughout the episodes are clips from his self-produced music videos (under the moniker ‘Joe Exotic: Country Music Artist’). These aren’t just cheaply made artistic abominations, the tracks themselves are performed by completely different people (The Clinton Johnson Band mostly, according to TMZ).
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His career as a country musician may have failed to take off, but thanks to Joe’s YouTube account, we’ve been able to club together a list of his music videos in all of their homemade cheesiness. So sit back and grab a cold one, because the madness is far from over.
‘Here Kitty Kitty’
What happens? Boasting 3.6 million views at the time of writing, the video for ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ visualises Joe’s accusations against his rival Carole Baskin – she’s a cackling, money-grabbing murderer who fed her husband Don Lewis to the tigers. It’s outlandishly on the nose and the zookeeper even cast a Carole lookalike to play the main character.
Weirdest moment: Armed with a platter of ‘human’ remains, this fantasy version of Carole dangles strips of meat into the big cat enclosure, but a mannequin’s head and hands on display make this scene super creepy.
What happens? This one features a short introduction from Joe himself, before exploring the poaching trade with the help of archive elephant footage, dodgy lip-synced vocals and interactions with the creatures at his reserve. With lines like: “You hunt them down, hack off their face/All in the name of the ivory trade“, his failure to land a record deal makes a lot of sense.
Weirdest moment: Superimposed onto an elephant’s eyeball, shots of bloodied carcasses and stacks of ivory tusks are shown on-screen. It’s all part of the theme, granted, but the way in which the gore is presented just doesn’t make any logical sense.
‘The Sun Says’
What happens? In honour of his dad, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, this poignant entry stars both of the zookeeper’s parents. Joe himself appears wearimng a black cowboy hat and pink shirt combo, watching on as a scene from his childhood (apparently) plays out in front of him.
Weirdest moment: As the camera pulls back from some trees, a miniature Joe can be made out floating within the leaves. There’s probably some symbolism to unpack here, but it just looks absolutely bonkers in an otherwise oddly touching video.
‘I Saw a Tiger’
What happens? One of the more stripped back efforts in his videography, Joe once again takes centre stage strumming his guitar in a random field. Interspersed with shots of big cat cuddling, ‘I Saw a Tiger’ confronts the impending species extinction, so watch out for a John Finlay cameo – Joe’s second husband, who pops up as a poacher.
Weirdest moment: Perched on the bonnet of a pickup truck, the main man himself strums away while a cloud of smoke fills the sky in the background. Would the death of all tigers bring about the apocalypse? Apparently so.
What happens? NYC duo A Great Big World’s emotional hit was covered by Joe’s musical team back in 2014, and the video is a blur of animal tragedy and slow-motion studio footage. Claiming in the description, “The day animal rights poisoned my best friend. Because they think being dead is better than being in a cage,” we’re shown the aftermath of a chimpanzee’s death as the zoo staff mourn and then bury the body.
Weirdest moment: The unflinching nature of the camera coverage is quite simply gob-smacking, but the part where Joe and John squeeze a Tiger King T-shirt over the chimp’s corpse reaches new levels of ridiculousness.
‘Pretty Woman Lover’
What happens? Baffling and hectic in equal measure, we see Joe as a member of a biker gang strapped up in full leathers and sunglasses, while shots of women clamouring for his attention cut in and out. The line “I’m a pretty woman lover and an ugly woman’s dream,” transforms into the whole theme here, and by God is it a strange experience.
Weirdest moment: Sat in awkward silence within a party limo, Joe and his husband John drive away from a group of women after they’ve desperately chased him out of his static home – that’s one way to piss off your other half!
‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness’ is streaming now on Netflix