If you’ve been anywhere near social media in the past six weeks, then you’re probably familiar with the gun-toting, meth-fueled feline enthusiast known as Joe Exotic.
And if you watched Tiger King, then you probably feel that after spending seven hours (eight, if you count the ill-advised reunion special) with Joe and his unique menagerie of misfits, you know the guy pretty well.
But believe it or not, there are more secrets lurking in Mr. Exotic’s past, and some of them have nothing to do with all those tiger skeletons they found on his property.
You might remember Rick Kirkham as the chain-smoking cowboy who tried to make a reality TV star put of Joe.
As one of the few Tiger King stars who’s not in jail and has no reason to fear being put on trial, Kirkham has been happy to discuss his experiences with Exotic, including the ones that weren’t featured in the Netflix doc series.
And he’s got some bombshell revelations that didn’t make the final cut:
If you’ve ever seen the footage of Exotic’s three-way wedding or listened to the eulogy in which he poetically paid tribute to his late husband’s testicles, you know the guy was very much into dudes.
But according to Kirkham, Joe didn’t limit himself in terms of his romantic relationships.
“Very few people realize Joe was married to a woman years before,” Kirkham said during a recent Instagram Live session.
“He had children and his son came to work at the zoo the summer that I was there, the very first summer.”
Yes, Joe was a family man, and it seems his 38-year old son, Brandon Chappell, even made an appearance in Tiger King.
“His son Brandon is in the documentary and I’m surprised that the documentary didn’t bring that up,” Kirkham revealed.
“Joe treated his son worse than he treated the other employees. He expected more out of him, he expected him to take more leadership and do harder work,” he continued.
“He had his son sweeping the park instead of giving him a decent job, feeding the animals or something like that. It was almost as though he regretted having a child, that he regretted having been married.”
Apparently, the first marriage and the fact that Joe is a father were open secrets at the zoo.
Exotic’s niece Chealsi Putnam says Joe was “in and out of Brandon’s life when he was growing up."
“Joe would go around telling everyone this was his son, he made no secret about it,” she said.
Interestingly, it seems Chappell now has three children of his own, which means Joe Exotic is a grandfather.
Do they have any contact?
Have the kids visited him in prison?
We don’t know, but one thing is for certain — if Joe ever gets out of the joint, this situation begs for a reality series.