Hey all you cool cats and kittens! From now on, That is the only appropriate greeting when we are talking about Tiger King. Welcome to the episode two recap. I’m sure you already know from watching episode one, you’re in for a wild ride. We start to hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how all of these strange relationships are mixed together. Big cat people are clearly stranger than a bunch of tigers in the middle of Oklahoma. Or a monkey in baby clothes. Or eating expired Walmart meat off the back of a truck. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read on, curious kittens.
In this episode, Carole Baskin is going to give us some aggressive flower crown work. I’m not really sure if she did that on purpose to soften her image. Or maybe she just really missed a turn and didn’t realize she’s not at Coachella. Over in Joe Exotic’s
red neck of the woods, one of his employees got their arm chewed off by a tiger and one is left to wonder how something like this didn’t happen sooner. All Joe worried about how it will impact him financially.
On the East Coast, we get a deep dive into the life and times of Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who shall be called “Doc” for the purpose of me not having to type out “Bhagavan” every time I bring him up. Also, because they say is a doctor of mystical science and I think it’s important to give respect where respect is due. We also get to meet the self-proclaimed Scarface of the business, Mr. Mario Tabraue. He’s an ex-drug lord who may or may not have cut up an ATF agent that was investigating him and when asked about it, simply shrugs and wonders what it matters. Ummm….a lot? It matters a lot.
Ok, so let’s start with the star of the show: Joe Exotic. It’s 2013 at the G.W. Zoo and it’s a grisly scene – employee Kelci “Saff” Saffery, laid out on the ground with not much blurring out her severed arm from our imagination. A tiger paces anxiously in the background as Joe quickly dons an EMS bomber jacket that one can only assume he has been saving for such an occasion.
After scoping out the situation, he immediately heads into a full gift shop of weirdos that have come to his zoo and announces that someone got their arm ripped off. Really, he says that. Joe then offers either a refund or a rain check because who wouldn’t want to come back and hang out with the same beast that just maimed someone?
But Saff, as shocking as this is, has no hard feelings. While Joe frets that he’s “never going to financially recover from this,” Saff is back on the job five days after she was attacked. Even though she had to amputate her arm, she feels like the media blew it out of proportion and didn’t want them to win so she returned back to work. Obviously.
Saff says nothing can bring her down. I guess that applies to all things in life because she’s doing her interview in a plastic chair surrounded by giant gas cans. I’m not sure how much catnip has penetrated her brain, but she’s way more positive than me. I would have sued that zoo for every penny and upgraded to a lumbar support chair if it were me.
Let’s move on to happier topics like polygamy! This is where we are introduced to Doc, who is literally riding an elephant down a residential street so they can go take a bath together in some dirty lake. The only thing keeping him on that elephant is what appears to be a bath towel. I’m not really sure if it was brought along for the specific purpose of keeping him on the elephant or if he planned on using it to dry them off when they are done. You’re gonna need a bigger towel. Fun fact! Naomie Olindo of Southern Charm actually visited Doc’s place and also rode an elephant in the water with her boyfriend. But moving on because shockingly, that is the least interesting part about Doc.
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For starters, Doc has lots of wives and girlfriends. When everyone tries to guess how many, the answers range from three to nine to “who the f**k cares”. I’m not really sure how a middle-aged man with a bleached out ponytail clad in a sleeveless Steve Irwin get up attracts so many women. But, let’s just say, it might have something to do with the big cats. Even Doc says so himself. He plops down on legit the biggest couch I’ve ever seen and tells us that there is nothing sexier than a tiger and if you don’t agree, you’re insecure and broken.
Broken? I’ve never really thought about the sex appeal of a tiger (have YOU?) but I’m not the one cruising around town in a golf cart calling myself a doctor of mystical science and refusing to wear shirts with sleeves. Look inward, Sir.
Aside from being a complete and utter turd, Doc also has a penchant for grooming teenagers for staff, or girlfriends or wives by taken them in and immersing them into his lifestyle. And by lifestyle I mean big cat cult. There’s really nothing else you could call it. As a former employee/girlfriend recalls, conditions were so rough that she got a boob job just so she could get a few days rest. Speaking of boobs, Doc is also known for his work as a tiger handler in Queen Britney Spears “Slave 4 U” performance at the VMAs years ago. No one would be surprised to learn that he didn’t wear sleeves back then either.
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Moving onto Mario, the possible murderer and also former drug kingpin. He’s no longer into drug trafficking (so he says) but now he’s just into animals. Big cat ones like cheetahs, panthers, lions, and leopards. He tells us a sad tale of his mom not being into animals. So, when he finally moved out, he went and got himself three Great Danes. Oh and a career as a drug lord. Eventually, he got a cougar and then his menagerie kept growing and growing, along with his reputation.
A former employee said he didn’t care about Mario’s past, he just knew he had the “coolest animals”. Those “coolest animals” were even used to smuggle coke at one point but now he’s reformed and even has a wife who goes to Babies R Us and dresses up their monkeys in preemie clothes. For Easter. You know, the monkeys that sleep in their bedroom. Basically, she’s doing more for those monkeys than I’m doing for my kids and I’m confidently okay with that.
Can we circle back to the polygamy for a sec? Doc isn’t the only one dipping his paw into multiple water bowls here. You see, Joe also has three husbands. If you’re on social media, you’re probably already familiar with his first husband, John Finlay, who has spawned many a meme. I don’t know if it’s his dedication to bad tattoos or his non-dedication to proper dentistry but this guy is a hit.
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Naturally, he’s also the muse for many of Joe’s music videos. If you haven’t checked the one out where they gaze longingly at each other in a snow filled wonderland, you’re missing out. What they are lacking in artistry, they clearly make up for in love because the chemistry is undeniable.
But I guess one music video muse is never enough and Joe eventually found Travis Maldonado, a then 19 year old from Southern California with size 16 feet and ginormous hands. While Travis identified as straight, Joe quickly got to the bottom of the truth after throwing out some porn trivia and poof, the greatest love story in the history of rural Oklahoma was born.
Cut to the three of them getting married in pink button down shirts and multiple belt buckles (I counted Joe sporting two all by himself). It wa as traditional wedding, they all kissed, cut cake and received gifts like a giant blanket with their shirtless image silk screened onto it. Clearly, I didn’t have my priorities straight when I picked items on my wedding registry and now I’m questioning it all.
Onto someone who only has one husband – Carole Freaking Baskin. This lady rides around her big cat sanctuary on a leopard print bike with a leopard print helmet. Her dedication to animal prints is as aspirational as it is insane. As her seriously untrimmed locks flow in the breeze while she rides around her property, Carole has the look of a lady who is out there enough to have an unsettling amount of social media followers. Carole is raking it in on Facebook. She’s getting $23K checks/week, all from update posts and videos of her not being able to figure out how to turn off Snapchat filters.
Carole tells us that owning big cats is all about people wanting to elevate their status. She makes the important distinction that she saves big cats instead of owning big cats. But, do you think that’s going to fly with Joe? Nope. So fly Joe did. As in, he went to her big cat sanctuary and flew a helicopter over the premises just to get a better look at what the conditions were. Aside from it causing one of the cats to have a seizure, it also antagonized Carole, who refuses to quit what she does anyway.
Her (one) husband, Howard Baskin, says it would make them too sad to stop rescuing big cats. Plus, then they wouldn’t have any music videos of hippy ladies twirling around a pond, singing about how special cats are. What is it with these people and music videos?
One thing is for sure, Carole isn’t feeding her cats expired Walmart meat, but Joe is. At the G.W. Zoo, the animals are all fed with trashed meat from Walmart that they bring in on giant trucks. The workers are also treated to expired meat, making such delicacies as meat pizza and bologna sandwiches.
Now Carole might not be feeding her cats expired meat, but she is being accused of feeding them way worse – her husband, Don Lewis. It’s something the documentary dives into a little more as it goes on but it doesn’t look like Carole’s worried. After all, she’s slicker than a pack of expired lunch meat off a truck. Tune in for the next recap to hear more. See ya, kittens!
TELL US – WHO DO YOU THINK IS A BETTER BOSS? JOE EXOTIC OR DOC ANTLE? DO YOU FOLLOW CAROLE ON FACEBOOK? DO YOU THINK SHE KILLED HER HUSBAND?
[Photo Credit: Netflix]