From the opening scenes of “Tiger King,” it’s clear that Joe Exotic, the star of Netflix’s latest documentary sensation, was ready to do just about anything to become famous. Throughout the series, he attempts to film his own reality show, runs for the governor of Oklahoma and even tries his hand at country music.
His musical pursuits were glossed over in the documentary, with a few of his perplexing, tiger-saturated music videos mainly used as B-roll. However, with 17 music videos currently housed on Exotic’s YouTube channel — each one wackier than the next — there looks to be enough material for an additional seven-episode series.
Mostly released between 2013 and 2015, Exotic’s songs touch on everything from love and loss to advocating for causes, including exotic animal ownership and a biker gang that takes in neglected children.
The songs are catchy and well-written — the vocals reminiscent of the mullet-and-10-gallon-hat-sporting twang stars of ’80s and ’90s country — which would be impressive if Exotic himself were behind them. However, following the release of “Tiger King,” Vince Johnson of the Clinton Johnson Band revealed to TMZ that many of Exotic’s songs were actually written and performed by him along with bandmate Danny Clinton, who purportedly struck up a partnership with Exotic to write a theme song for his reality show.
Though all of Exotic’s songs may not be a result of his own creativity, his music videos certainly are – and they’re worth a watch, if only for the oddity of it all.
1. “Here Kitty Kitty”
The music video for “Here Kitty Kitty” got the most onscreen time during “Tiger King,” and deservedly. The twisted visual features Exotic dressed up as a cowboy-priest hybrid and co-stars a Carole Baskin look-alike who feeds human meat — a prop that may have fallen off the expired meat truck meant to signify her missing husband — to one of Exotic’s tigers. Revenge, as they say, is best served cold and here it is at its looniest.
2. “I Saw a Tiger”
In this love letter to tigers, Exotic sports a rhinestoned handcuff belt and pours his heart out lip-syncing. The first music video uploaded to his channel, “I Saw a Tiger” features plenty of heart-warming footage of baby snow leopards – but not enough to forget his lyrical comparison of the killing of exotic animals in Zanesville to the Holocaust.
3. “This Is My Life”
This video is a rollercoaster ride. It begins with home videos and news clips of Exotic throughout the years, and then turns insanely dark as footage of the G.W. Exotic Animal Park team burying a dead gorilla appears. Exotic then switches gears to his own struggles, alluding to having a disease and coupling a clip of him taking pills with the lyric “So this is goodbye.” Later lyrics reveal that Exotic had been struggling with cancer, though Robert Moor, creator of the Tiger King podcast, claimed in a March 24 Twitter thread that Exotic only had a prostate infection.
4. “96 Elephants”
“96 Elephants” is one of Exotic’s advocacy music videos, this time against the poaching of elephants in Africa. From an elephant ranch in Florida, Exotic is joined by “special guest star” Tim Azel, who raps in an incredibly deep drawl from the perspective of an elephant named Luke. Exotic sings a dramatic hook to a bongo-based beat in rhythm with the lyric, “We can take on every animal God made, except the animal in man.” Though there are quite a few graphic images of poached elephants in this one, it is surprisingly informative.
5. “Say Something”
The music video for Exotic’s most straightforward tune — a cover of the song “Say Something” by A Great Big World — also happens to be his most disturbing. Claiming that animal rights activists poisoned one of his chimpanzees, the clip shows Exotic and his team burying the same gorilla from the “This Is My Life” video, except this time it’s even more up close and personal. Exotic is shown giving the chimpanzee CPR and laying it to rest – but not before he puts a Tiger King T-shirt on the poor chimp’s dead body.
6. “Pretty Woman Lover”
In a shocking turn of events, Exotic is seen pulling up on a motorcycle and declaring himself a “Pretty Woman Lover,” contradicting his portrayal on “Tiger King” as a gay polygamist. Posing with two scantily-clad women, Exotic lip-syncs: “I’m a pretty woman lover, I’m an ugly woman’s dream.” He does this all in front of then-husband John Finlay, who is later shown in awkward clips of the two in a limo.
7. “Guardians of Children”
As Exotic explains in the description of this video, its purpose is to “bring awareness to children that are abused” and “to those who think bikers are all bad.” What results is Exotic wearing a leather jacket with no shirt underneath and holding an infant in his priest outfit. There’s also ample footage of the biker gang who helps abused children, Guardians of the Children, which is a real non-profit organization.
8. “I Can’t Believe This Feeling”
This video features Dustin Whitson, whose role is unclear — he doesn’t sing on the track, but instead appears to be posing as one of Exotic’s lovers. The two hold hands and frolic in the snow, and Whitson is shown staring off into the distance pensively. There are many unknowns about this particular visual, as the original version of this song was uploaded under a different title and dedicated to John Finlay, one of Exotic’s husbands.
9. “Alisa’s Memory (Alisa’s Butterflies)”
In this nine-minute video for “Alisa’s Memory (Alisa’s Butterflies),” Exotic sets to music the bucket list of Alisa Finley, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 18. Posted after Finley passed away, Exotic is only shown a few times against a green screen of clouds, and the rest of the video is footage of Finley. Although it is unclear whether or not Exotic knew Finley personally, it is a surprisingly nice tribute.
10. “Bring It On (Please Unite)”
“Bring It On (Please Unite)” is another instance of Exotic advocating for his right to privately own animals. Wielding a gun in front of a tiger cage, Exotic challenges: “Bring on the media, the right wing, the left wing, or anything you want to bring.” Also featured are lengthy shots of Exotic lip-syncing in a recording booth, the destruction of dummies meant to symbolize animal rights activists and what appears to be Exotic donating blood.