Are you ready to see yet another side of Joe Exotic?
The Tiger King subject quickly became a viral figure and, as memes spread across social media, something of an ironic folk hero—despite his conviction on two counts of murder-for-hire after trying to have Big Cat Sanctuary owner Carole Baskin killed. Netflix’s docu-series apparently didn’t even show the worst side of the G.W. Zoo owner.
Now, however, it seems Joe Exotic is seeking redemption through a different medium—that of the written word. Yup, he’s written a book.
Joe Exotic’s husband, 24-year-old Dillon Passage, says the book will detail his abusive childhood. Passage told People that his husband endured “a lot of mental, physical abuse, sexual abuse” as a child. “It was not good,” he said. “I’ve read all of it. It’s very heartbreaking.”
“[H]e’s really been through a lot,” Passage added. “I mean, I studied psychology in college, and it makes a lot of sense about who Joe is now and it really affected him and the way he thinks and the way he deals with things. So it’s a very tragic story. It’s super traumatic to Joe. And once it comes out then everybody will see a different side of Joe.”
Passage said his husband wrote the book in letters he mailed a close friend from prison. It has yet to be typed out, and right now they’re seeking a publisher.
“It’s a really heartbreaking story and a lot of people are going to see a different side of Joe because of this,” Passage told People. “I cried. I cried and cried and cried. It was so tragic because it’s nothing he ever spoke to me about in person. It’s very personal and it’s definitely a story that nobody thought would have happened. It’s absolutely tragic. And Joe really gets his story out there and lets people know what happened to him.”
As detailed in Tiger King, Joe Exotic became obsessed with big cat advocate Carole Baskin over time, as she lobbied to have private zoos including his shut down. In particular, he became convinced that Baskin had killed her second husband, Don Lewis, after his mysterious disappearance.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister asked the public for new tips following Tiger King’s release and has since said he is not “yet” ready to say that Baskin is a person of interest in the case. Baskin has denied any involvement in Lewis’ disappearance, and has called Tiger King “salacious and sensational.” Baskin was not invited to the docu-series’ after show, which aired Sunday, and as a representative put it, she “would not participate if asked” anyway.
Critics have scrutinized Tiger King’s treatment of both Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, noting the ways in which the series tips its hand in Joe’s favor despite his conviction for attempting to have Baskin killed.
In the wake of the docu-series’ release, one reporter even asked President Donald Trump if he would consider pardoning Joe Exotic. Perhaps the best response to the idea came from former Joe Exotic TV producer Rick Kirkham.
“I can only give you my opinion on that, and I’ll make it short and sweet,” he said. “It is one maniacal, crazy man trying to think about letting another one go free.”