Apparently the songs were all written and performed by musicians Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton, who are based in Washington state.
Johnson answered a few questions, telling Slate the duo connected with Exotic via an ad looking for someone to write a theme song for his private zoo and upcoming reality show. The show, as you probably know, was put on hold when someone blew up Exotic’s studio, destroying footage and killing several alligators.
“He seemed like a dandy,” Johnson told Slate.
But months later Johnson realized, when he pulled up Exotic’s videos on YouTube, the zoo owner had taken credit for all of the songs and was pretending to sing them. If you go to Johnson and Clinton’s apparent Shazam page, you can hear the similarities.
If you have watched the series, you know the videos are something else. One of the most insane is called “Here Kitty Kitty,” which continues the feud with animal rescuer Carole Baskin with an impersonator who feeds big cats pieces of raw meat and holds a mannequin head on a platter. Exotic spends much of the show accusing Baskin of murdering her second husband and feeding his body to her rescued tigers.
To create the songs, Johnson said Exotic would set up the subject matter for the songs and then leave him to “do my research.” Johnson was very clear that he didn’t agree with the direction of all the songs, particularly “You Can’t Believe,” which was about his friend and fellow roadside zoo owner Terry Johnson, who killed himself after releasing his large collection of exotic animals (leading authorities to shoot 18 lions, 17 tigers, and eight bears). The song alleges Johnson was murdered by the government in a deep state plot.
Johnson said, “He told me about his friend Thompson and how he was being railroaded and he wanted a sympathetic song, so I gave him one.” But as for the idea that the government had him killed, “Hell no. I think he was a creep/nut. Those cats he let out could have killed anyone.”
Perhaps there will be an additional documentary covering Exotic’s singing (or lack thereof) career. There was so much strange story to work with — we’ve never seen a show where a woman getting her arm chewed off by a tiger was not even the most crazy thing to happen — that the filmmakers didn’t have time to address this. In the meantime, months before Tiger King’s release on Netflix, Universal Content Productions inked a deal to create a limited series about Exotic’s long-running feud with Baskin. The show will reportedly focus more on Baskin’s perspective as a nemesis to the Tiger King himself. Saturday Night Live’s very own Kate McKinnon will serve as an executive producer and is also slated to star in the project as the Florida animal rights activist.