Tiger King: Inside Joe Exotic’s Wild Homemade Music Videos
Mateusz Gugalka, who produced some of Joe’s music videos, said vanity lounge that Joe went to great lengths to insist that he was writing and recording his own country music. One tactic was to tell staff members on a Monday that he had spent the weekend in Dallas recording a new song – an outright lie, given that Joe had been interacting with said staff members all weekend in the office. ‘Oklahoma.
“We knew he wasn’t going to record a song, but you didn’t ask Joe. You just roll with it. said Gugałka, who started working for Joe at age 22 after leaving Poland for the United States. “He didn’t warn us about the filming of music videos. He would just wake up one morning sometimes…and say, ‘We’re going to shoot a music video today, because I dreamed, pretty much, of what I want it to look like.’ Then he presented himself dressed as a priest.
There was actually a glimmer of logic – Joe Exotic logic – in the priest’s outfit.
“I think he was trying to start his own church at the zoo,” said Gugałka, who now produces commercials for NBC’s Oklahoma City affiliate. “I don’t know if he was doing this for tax reasons or if he just wanted to marry people off. There were times when he wanted to start his own church.
The process of filming the videos was fairly straightforward, although Joe managed to create the occasional shimmer of production value. (A pretty spot on Carol Baskin similar features in “Here Kitty Kitty”.) The music video for “Guardians of Children” – about “bikers who protect abused children in our country” – features a group of cheering children, like “Kumbaya”, between a shot of Joe in lip-sync on a highway overpass, his bare tattooed torso visible under a leather jacket, and Joe in a priest’s uniform, handlebar mustache and baseball cap, serenading a newborn at night. The piano video for ‘My First Love’ features Joe in the dark, seated in front of what could be a piano or a table saw – everything from Joe’s forearm is out of frame – watching in a glowing candle and what appears to be pink roses added in post.
“Sometimes I would have two cameras pointed at him – we would just record two different angles maybe 50 different times and then we would take the take where his mouth lined up with the music actually,” Gugałka said.
“I’m a musician myself and was flabbergasted by the sheer fallacy of his presentation,” said Romeo Dupuy, a producer who impulsively moved to Oklahoma to work with Joe after seeing a post on Craigslist following a breakup with his girlfriend. “He didn’t even know how to play the guitar. So we would ask it. When we filmed him playing these songs, he was behind the grass to cover his hands. Then he would lip sync.
But there’s something about Joe that’s oddly magnetic. Even though he’s a con man, those he’s conned can’t deny that Joe has a kind of gonzo charisma.
Write to vanity lounge Years after their ill-fated collaboration, Johnson reflects on it: “We all get what comes to us in the end, whether it’s good or bad. Joe, overall, was friendly. Most people just bore me. They have the personality of a lobster. He’s a seedy crook, but he’s got personality.
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