Tiger King star’s tragic past revealed
Tiger King star Joe Exotic has opened about his traumatic past including how he was raped at the age of just five.
The jailed star also told how he was treated as a "hired help" by his parents and held his first husband in his arms as he died from AIDS complications.
The Netflix favourite's early life is examined in a new documentary called Joe Exotic Before He Was King due out next week in the US on the International Discovery network.
Exotic talks about his upbringing in Kansas and how his parents loathed him being openly gay, how he attempted suicide and how he was left devastated when his beloved brother Garold died.
The reality star admits his parents never once said: "I love you" and treated him more like a hired help than a son.
It's the first time Exotic has been seen opening up on his traumatic early life.
Using never-before-seen interview footage of Joe Exotic, personal photos and home movies, producers reveal the dark secrets that led to his crazed life at the GW Zoo, Oklahoma and his downfall.
Exotic described his early life as the middle of five children and claimed he was treated as a farm hand for parents Shirley and Francis as he grew up in Garden City, Kansas.
"My mom and dad, they were farm people, and they came from families of farm people," he said in an exclusive preview seen by The Sun.
"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 (did) 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 said the stress of that unloved environment hit him hard emotionally and medically, "This is just not the way I would have chose to grow, getting yelled at all the time and put under pressure and the stress. When I was in the 5th grade, I already had an ulcer disease."
Exotic also admitted to a journalist that aged five he was repeatedly raped by an older boy old at his own home.
He also admitted his parents hated him being homosexual.
"Being gay … they really didn't take to being openly gay," Exotic said.
Exotic explained that animals were always there for him emotionally after feeling failed by humans.
He said: "I lay in bed at night and I hurt so bad and I am just so in my own little world. And not the animals, the people in this world will eat you up and spit you out."
The documentary also explores how Exotic found love and married Brian Rhyne, 19, years before gay marriage was legalised.
He was left devastated when Brian died in his arms in a park from complications of AIDS.
He 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."
Immediately after high school Exotic 19, landed a job as Chief of Police of a small town Eastvale in Texas.
Grinning on camera he laughed at his headline making antics of stripping off in public to raise cash for a new fire truck.
"As a police chief, back at 1982, I caught hell for that," Exotic said.
Underneath his flamboyant personality, Exotic's mental health demons emerged when he drove his police car into the side of a bridge.
Exotic labelled the crash initially "a bad accident", but later admitted it was a suicide attempt.
He fled to Florida to undergo therapy for his broken back and shoulder, and found solace caring for animals from Lion Country Safari Park.
His only supportive brother Garold invited him to co-run his pet store in Texas.
The short stability and happiness ended when Garold Wayne (G.W.) was killed in his RV by a drunk driver outside Dallas, Texas in 1997.
Tearful Exotic confessed, "That man had taught me everything I know.
"I watched the last days with my brother on life support and had to convince my mom and dad to shut it off.
"And when I signed the papers to shut his life machine off, I promised him he wouldn't die for no reason and I wanted the world to know what a great guy he was."
In 1999, parents Joe and Shirley made peace with Exotic and helped fund the G.W Zoo that same year "in memory of my brother".
Another ex of Exotic's JC Hartpence, who is currently serving a life sentence for murder, reveals how they had a "dark and twisted" sadomasochist relationship.
The documentary also described how, despite having 187 tigers, two husbands, adoring fans and a daily internet show at the height of his success, he really lived penniless in squalor.
"I live in a house that's a piece of cr*p. The roof caved in two weeks ago. The carpet was so flooded that we had to pull it up because of the black mould," he says in one interview.
"And my couches don't even have arm rests on them anymore from the tigers chewing the arm rests off. I eat out of trash cans most of the time. I puke all day."
"I do I. V.s all night. And I literally have rat sh*t in my cabinets but I wouldn't trade this for anything because I represent something so much more powerful than the dollar it takes to get in this place.
"Not only do I have to worry about $60,000 in bills every month - and that's just to break even. But I have 18 people that lives depend on me every day. Whether it's to be their friend or to be up their ass.
"Am I nuts? God I must be because the abuse and the hours and the sacrifice that I give up.
"And I'm going to continue to be broke and I'm going to continue to fight to keep this memorial park going. Until I either finally die of a heart attack or somebody shoots me."
Exotic shot to fame in Netflix's Tiger King, which documented his life and battles with nemesis Carole Baskin, an animal rights campaigner who runs the Big Cat Sanctuary.
Exotic is currently serving 22 years in prison for hiring a hit man to kill Ms Baskin and killing tigers.
Documentary makers said the latest show examined "the childhood traumas and dramatic events which shaped the mind of the man who called himself the Tiger King".
"This comprehensive, one-hour special puts the entire salacious story in context and uncovers dark secrets about Joe's past."
It is set to air in the US on Monday, September 28, local time.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Tiger King star's tragic past revealed