There are a lot of very bizarre things about Tiger King. In these unprecedented lockdown days, its arrival on Netflix couldn’t have been better timed. The antics of the tigers, Joe Exotic, and Carole Baskin has Netflix users hooked and my group chats going wild. There’s a lot about the series that's completely out-there, but one thing in particular has been bugging me: Does Joe Exotic actually sing on his tracks? His songs and music videos are truly something to behold. And viewers have been questioning whether the songs are Exotic’s creations.
Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and the tigers have provided some of the most fantastically odd escapism through Tiger King. There are so many twists and turns in the Netflix docuseries it’ll have you shook. Only adding to the absurdity of Tiger King, throughout the series Joe Exotic’s obviously lip-synched country music videos really get across how much he loves the tigers. According to Vanity Fair, instead of Exotic coming up with his own lyrics he asked musicians Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton to produce personalized cat songs. Exotic even convinced them to create the tracks for free for free in exchange for the exposure they'd receive from being featured on a reality show he was due to appear in. The pair are even listed in Tiger King’s credits.
However, Exotic tried to keep it a secret that he wasn't really singing or playing the musical instruments he appeared to be in the videos. Producer Rick Kirkham, who spent years living at Exotic’s zoo filming for the reality TV show, told Vanity Fair, “it was absolutely ridiculous. One time, Joe got a little bit drunk and high, and we actually coaxed him into singing part of one of the songs. He couldn’t even hold a tune. It was just so ludicrous. It was a big joke within the crew and staff that it wasn’t him [singing in the videos] — but he was d*mned insistent to anyone and everyone, including us and my studio crew, that that was him.”
Fans of the show will see that it’s not just one or two songs that Exotic created videos for, but a whole catalog. In fact you can watch the full versions on YouTube. Alongside the show classic “I Saw A Tiger,” you can see Exotic reference his nemesis Baskin in the video for “Here Kitty Kitty,” in which a lookalike of Baskin can be seen feeding tigers with strips of meat from a plate with a mannequin’s head.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Johnson, one of the musicians behind the tracks, said: “It was a couple of months and two or three songs [into the collaboration] when I was on YouTube one night and just happened to look up Joe Exotic. And there he was, lip-synching and acting like the ghost of Elvis [in these music videos]. I called him up, I was hot. … And he bamboozled me about his reality show — that it was coming soon and he would make everything right as rain. I just wanted the proper credit.”
Exotic’s video’s are arguably the least bizarre thing about Tiger King, but they definitely add to the overall strangeness of the show. You can watch Tiger King on Netflix.