The internet’s best boy Louis Theroux has, like all of us, been enthralled by the unfurling madness of Tiger King.
Now he’s spilled the tea in UK’s Sunday Times about the time he himself met Joe Exotic, doing so with the trademark observational tone only he could pull of.
The two met while Theroux was filming his documentary America’s Most Dangerous Pets, but now he’s decided to add his own thoughts after the runaway success of Netflix’s Tiger King.
“When I met him, on a blustery May day in 2011, what stood out, apart from the blond mullet and the nervous energy, was the blue eyeliner tattooed on the rims under his eyes,” Theroux wrote.
“He was a strange mix of butch and femme signifiers.”
Theroux went on to write that Joe Exotic was always surrounded by an “atmosphere of incipient catastrophe”, adding credibility to the way Netflix showed his chaotic lifestyle.
“He seemed to lurch from crisis to crisis, constantly on the verge of financial ruin, handling low-level bites and maulings, and being hounded by ‘animal rights people’, as he put it,” he wrote.
He also opened up about Joe Exotic’s love life, and put his weight behind the theory that Exotic’s first two husbands, John Finlay and Travis Maldonado, appeared not to be gay.
One interesting tidbit Theroux noticed was that they only had sex as a trio, never individually. He recalls Joe Exotic told him: “It works awesome because we’re all too tired to have sex.”
Perhaps Theroux’s most brutal reflection was on the people who worked in Joe Exotic’s zoo.
“Among other things, the pathologies on display in Tiger King are symptoms of a condition known as ‘living in Oklahoma’,” he wrote.
“The backdrop to the Joe Exotic sections of Tiger King is a community brought low by reduced opportunity, rampant meth and opioid use, and high incarceration rates.
“Many of Joe’s volunteers had a whiff of desperation about them: waifs and strays getting by on tiny wages and the free room and board.
“With facial piercings and expressions of bewilderment, they would wander about the zoo like kids on their gap year, waiting for someone to tell them what to do.”
Despite appearing to have missed a huge opportunity, Theroux’s main takeaway is that he’s actually not jealous about the crazy success of Tiger King.
“I really can’t claim any kind of prescience other than noticing that it is pretty weird for Americans to be keeping multitudes of large exotic animals in small cages,” he wrote.