It seemed to be a classic story: He saw a tiger, the tiger saw a man.
Or did he?
The new Netflix documentary “Tiger King” has murder-for-hire plots, animal-loving polygamists, drugs, disappearances, magic, gubernatorial races and, of course, tigers. But there’s one question it seems everyone watching is wondering:
Did Joe Exotic really sing those songs?
One of the more bizarre aspects of Netflix’s “Tiger King” (which is saying something), is the inescapable presence of zookeeper-entertainer Joe Exotic’s, aka Joseph Maldonado-Passage’s, extensive music catalog.
Throughout the documentary, Joe Exotic’s bizarre songs and homemade music videos pop up again and again. Each has its own weird aspects. In “I Saw A Tiger,” he sings about the big cats while standing on an emergency vehicle with an unnecessarily stormy background. In “Here Kitty Kitty,” he enlists an impersonator to mock Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin.
Regardless of your feelings about the videos, one universal fact is hard to deny: It slaps. The Tiger King’s got bops.
But does Joe Exotic really have a purrfect voice? Vanity Fair last week let the cat out of the bag.
According to the outlet, musician Vince Johnson and vocalist Danny Clinton are actually behind the songs in the music videos. The pair have customized songs before, and Exotic convinced them to make him some personalized tracks for free, saying they’d get exposure in his now-defunct reality show.
Sadly, according to TMZ, Clinton died in October from heart-related issues. However, Johnson spoke to Vanity Fair about Exotic in an email, saying, “I had no idea he was going to Milli Vanilli the songs”:
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-syncing 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.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, “Tiger King” co-directors and writers, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, opened up about why they didn’t note that Exotic wasn’t singing the songs.
“We were really struggling with what the truth of it was. We went back and forth on it. With certain songs, it became super confusing. And then our fact-checker told us we were wrong — he was actually singing on certain songs. It was tricky to determine which he was on,” said Chaiklin.
Goode added: “We cut a really good scene about that. Joe even said, ‘Of course not every singer sings all his songs, that’s just how it’s done.’ His take on it was funny — that you could be a musician and a singer and not sing.”
So, is Exotic singing the songs in the videos? Mostly no. But as with everything else in “Tiger King,” it’s a somewhat complicated tail.