Joe Exotic has opened up about his life before Tiger King, revealing his difficult upbringing as a young gay man and the tragic loss of his first husband to AIDS complications
A new TV special titled Joe Exotic Before He Was King, set to air on true-crime channel Investigation Discovery on Monday (28 September), will explore the early life of the former exotic animal zoo owner, who is currently serving a prison sentence for attempted murder.
Joe Exotic opens up about difficult childhood, sexual abuse, rejection for being gay.
Exotic, the middle of five children, speaks for the first time about his difficult childhood growing up on a farm.
According to The Sun, in the doc Joe Exotic explains: “You were born to be a hired hand and not a kid so it was a lot of hard work and late nights and struggles.
“Now that I’m older, I can pretty much relate to the same things of why mom and dad were always in a bad mood and everything else. It was probably the verbal abuse of getting yelled at all the time.
“And never the parents say ‘I love you’ because that wasn’t taught in your household back in the 60s. It is not the way I chose to grew up.”
Exotic, who says he was sexually abused as a child, reveals that his parents failed to accept him because of his sexuality.
He added: “Being gay… they really didn’t take to being openly gay.”
Tiger King star’s first husband ‘died in his arms’ from AIDS complications.
The documentary also explores Exotic’s relationship with first husband Brian Rhyne, who he married in a symbolic ceremony years before same-sex marriage became legal.
Rhyne died from complications of AIDS in 2001, after being cared for by Exotic at the park, passing away in his husband’s arms.
Exotic said: “When you deal with and you have dealt with as much death as I have, whether it’s my brother, my ex-husband, the animals that you fall in love with, you build this wall.”
A release explains of the new special: “This comprehensive, one-hour special puts the entire salacious story in context and uncovers dark secrets about Joe’s past.
“Using exclusive and never-before-seen interview footage of Joe Exotic, including personal photos and home movies, we reveal the dark secrets that led to the colossal crash which has landed him in prison for decades.
“What sent Joe Exotic down the path of depravity, polygamy, live animal collecting and trading and ultimately, conspiracy to commit murder?”