'Tiger King': These Are Joe Exotic's Husbands
Netflix's hit series Tiger King has taken the world by storm. The show surrounded the incredibly wild Joe Exotic and his eccentric lifestyle that ultimately led to his time in prison. Here are his many husbands...
Tiger King's Joe Exotic was a loud and proud gay, gun-toting, zoo owner before his eventual prison sentence for his role in the murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin. On the show, we got an inside glimpse of Joe's romantic life and saw a few of his marriages.
In the 1980s, Joe Exotic met gay-cowboy saloon security guard Brian Rhyne and the two lived as a married couple even holding a small ceremony (before same-sex marriage was legal in the US) at the bar where they met. Brian was Joe's partner while he started the G.W. Oklahoma zoo. Unfortunately, Brian passed away in 2001 from HIV.
Joe met events producer J.C. Hartpence within a year after Brian's unfortunate passing. Hartpence used his experience to help Joe take his tiger and magic show on the road, often performing at malls and fairs across the country. The pair fought over the direction the zoo was going, Hartpence wanting to use the zoo as a rehabilitation center while Joe wanted to continue breeding and selling tigers. Eventually, the pair had a terrible breakup which led to J.C.'s arrest.
J.C. is now serving a life sentence for an unrelated murder.
In 2003, Joe Exotic hired 19-year old John Finlay to work at the zoo and during the zoo's road tour. John is the main partner featured in the documentary series and has become a fan favorite for his care for the animals and his adorable shyness. John had a particular soft spot for the crocodiles and was devastated when the crocodile enclosure was burned down.
View this post on Instagram
#TBT Me and Thunder!! People always ask me what, if anything, I miss about my time working with exotics or the park. The answer is always the animals. They all have different personalities, are unique in their own ways, and unlike humans they never judge you for being yourself. Also, been seeing folks who think I need to shave my beard off, but if Thunder here is OK with it then it stays!! #TigerKing #GatorStyle #JohnFinlay #throwbackthursday #throwback #tiger #whitetiger
John was seen heavily in his relationship with Joe, enjoying the gifts and affection showered on him but struggling with Joe's difficult personality. He eventually left Joe and married and had a child with a staff member from the zoo. John has happily moved on and has learned a lot from his time with Joe.
In 2013, 19-year old Southern California native Travis Maldonado also began working for the zoo and Joe very quickly became enamored with him. Travis, John, and Joe had a 3-way wedding ceremony with many of the zoo's animals in attendance!
In the documentary, we saw footage of Travis' incredibly sweet and loving demeanor, and how everyone around him truly enjoyed knowing him. Unfortunately, he had a drug addiction that Joe seemed to feed and lead Travis down a very unhappy road.
Travis was frequently upset with being controlled by Joe and was hoping to leave to return home. Tragically, Travis died from a gunshot wound to the head when he pulled the guns trigger thinking it was empty when he removed the magazine and not realizing there was one bullet in the chamber.
We watched as this terrible death took a huge toll on Joe, Travis' zoo coworkers, and his mother who also worked on the zoo.
Joe Exotic met young Dillon Passage on a dating app and quickly became attached, even marrying him within two months of Travis' passing! Dillon was by Joe's side during his most recent turmoil, losing the zoo and hiding from enemies by moving to Florida. Dillon has even continued to stay with Joe and support him while he serves his prison time.
Check out the trailer for Netflix's Tiger King here: