While Carole Baskin dances on TV, family of her missing ex-husband airs ad offering $100K reward

Okay, I misunderstood that bit, thanks; and I’ve decided I don’t want to know anything else.

This is entirely too unimportant to let it occupy any more mental energy.


I thought that was made pretty clear, it was one of the most damning things about a guy who had a lifetime filled with horrible behavior. The documentary even wraps up with one of his former husbands having his “Property of Joe Exotic” tattoo covered up.

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The more important question is why the fruck anyone ever thought watching the show was a good idea. I guess the Cardassians and Honey BooBoo already paved that road, but holy FSM (praise his noodly appendages), people… why??? Just why???

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So while we are on the subject of Tiger King - can someone explain how everyone into exotic animals also seems to be into grooming? o_0 I mean WTF?

Also, I don’t think Joe Exotic came out looking like a good guy in all of this. I mean, he is in jail, and pretty much everyone who worked with him said he was a fucking douche who did bad things. He was a train wreck on two legs and took us for a heck of a ride.

It’s a train wreck phenomenon for sure. Speaking for myself, as someone who never watched a single episode of Survivor, The Kardashians, The Apprentice, Honey Boo Boo, or pretty much any popular “reality” show, I think what made this show watchable to me was the stranger-than-fiction aspect of it. Most people know that most “reality” shows are anything but, and have actual scripts and completely manufactured situations to artificially create drama. This show may have been selectively edited and certain aspects may have been embellished, but the main events (which largely predate the filming of the show) are so incredibly bizarre that no sane writer could have possibly come up with them. Plus I legitimately did learn a few things about the legalities and sketchy subculture of raising big cats in the U.S.

This video may help explain the can’t-look-away appeal as well. (Don’t worry, it’s not the actual show)


It mentions the meth in passing. Doesn’t bring up that these men were straight before Exotic got them involved in meth till one of the last episodes. And at no point digs into how closely Exotics behavior matches typical grooming techniques used by sexual predators. There’s a lot of detail about these relationships that never made it in, as well as previous behavior by Exotic with teenage (but seemingly of age) men.

Including the fact that Travis’s (the one who killed himself) mother was only involved because it was the only way she could contact her son.

While the drug use is mentioned, and there’s some action on Exotic providing it. It isn’t really put out there that these people were not hard drug users until Exotic introduced them and that he was their sole source of the drugs.

This is how the doc gets away with it. They mention and gesture to just enough to get the “presents everyone as bad” interpretation. But the whole thing is framed from Exotic’s take and even heavily uses Exotic’s own footage. It’s not an accident that so many people walked away with an image of Exotic as some one who got railroaded, and Baskin as the devil. But having been interested in this well before the series came out, and Lewis’s disappearance before Exotic ever glommed onto it (True Crime!). They leave so, so much out. And its almost all negatives about Exotic.

Can’t bring myself to watch the video, but I appreciate the context and background you provided.


Ok, but just FYI it’s one of a series of humorous “pitch meeting” videos that Ryan George does, imagining a screen writer’s attempt to pitch his idea for a new movie or TV show to a studio executive. Nothing especially offensive or exploitative in the video.

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Her husband was very wealthy and yet he was barely literate. He’s a pilot, and was frequently disappearing to fly to Costa Rica. I mean, it’s not unreasonable to consider he was involved in some sort of smuggling (exotic animals, drugs). If drugs, an unexplained disappearance is almost the norm.

At the same time, why was he so concerned about his wife as to write a note to that effect? Plus, the way he disappeared makes it seem he died in the US, not Costa Rica. So that’s a point against Baskin.

Her goofy affect as to his disappearance doesn’t help any, but it could simply be the result of her attempts to hide her lack of displeasure regarding his disappearance (independent of any participation in it), or that she knew he involved in smuggling and wanted to stay far away from any discussion of that.

I think the pacing of the documentary was designed to draw the viewer into this crazy world and then gradually build a case for what kind of manipulative, vindictive and ultimately self-destructive asshole Joe Exotic was.

I think the most likely explanation is they were going for the easy “isn’t this crazy” take that most of the superficial coverage had pushed. They were overly deferential to Exotic, Doc Antle and their associates to maintain access. And they simply jumped on Baskin as an easy villian for the story. But Exotic and his peers are significantly uglier people than most expect when they start poking at it.

The documentary is almost entirely composed of interviews with Exotic, his associates and supporters. They used his footage. They don’t even mention the other charges against him. It all reeks of access journalism.

I’d recommend this as a better take:

The thing that really cheeses me off on this is how successful Joe Exotic was at warping the Lewis family’s search for answers into a something else entirely. At this point they’re a foot note in the Joe Exotic story in a way that’s probably actively preventing anything like a proper investigation.

He was in real estate. He apparently started as a car salesman and simply grabbed up rental properties while they were cheap. Made his money renting poorly maintained buildings in the run down parts of Florida and later became involved in cul de sac developments or something.

While these people were wealthy it’s less Wall Street, 1% wealthy than head of the local Chamber of Commerce wealthy. When he disappeared the estate was apparently worth about $5m.

Baskin still owns most of those rental properties and apparently derives most of her income from them. It’s certified slum Lord stuff apparently, but it’s not a mystery where that money comes from.

Don Lewis disappeared way back in 1997, and was declared legally dead in 2002. It’s unlikely that the disappearance will ever be solved at this point and I doubt there was anything that Joe and his antics could do to derail a “proper investigation” since the case was pretty much closed decades ago.

I would point you to nearly every cold case ever solved.

At this point the publicly accepted story on Lewis’ disappearance is that the family knows Baskin did it and is seeking to get her charged. Which is absolutely not the case. The entire thing is so muddied up woth false claims and weird rumors pushed by exotic it can be hard to even tell what’s real. And Exotic has been pushing his particular take on the subject for a decade or more.

The only thing that comes up with the family anymore is the supposed crusade against Baskin. By their own accounting they’re seeking to hold the authorities accountable for droppoing the ball. And get some sense of an answer or even what’s true. Exotic and his cohorts put a huge amount of effort into muddying up what’s true. Before Exotic got involved there was a small groundswell of interest in digging into the case. Now it’s just a part of the Joe Exotic saga.

Because the documentary was centered on Joe, who was at war with Baskins. It consumed him (literally and figuratively). I’m not sure you could have done a show about him without some focus on the Baskin and the conspiracy theory. It was more surprising they spent any time all all on the other guy. He’s an asshole that deserves his own expose documentary, but was mostly tangential to Joe Exotic’s story.

I mean, your mileage obviously varies, and it’s been months (years? decades? who knows?) since I’ve watched it, but my recollection is that outside of Saff there was basically nobody in this entire documentary who struck me as a figure of sympathy.


I think that’s likely the case, yes.

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I felt bad for the guy who got his arm ripped off. Yikes!!

Saff was the only good person on that show, honestly. Everyone else came off as an asshole.


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