This article is part of the The Tiger King and I series.

Disclaimer: Names have been changed mostly because I forgot them and partially because they might sue me for putting them on blast

Part 1:
As you've probably noticed, Joe Exotic has been in the news lately. Do you know about Joe Exotic? He owned the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma for many years. He apparently mistreated his animals. He shot tigers to death and buried them on the property. I never saw any of that. I worked for Joe Exotic's Traveling Magic and Tiger Show for almost a year in 2009. This is my true account.

I had just ended a relationship with my best friend's cousin because she had moved back to Wisconsin and apparently, as part of the deal, she just stole a bunch of my shit. Good times. It was 2009, and things were lookin' up. I had just quit my job at an O'Reillys Auto Parts because I didn't know shit about cars and my boss talked like a backwoods Sean Connery who constantly threatened to kick my ass. That ass-kicking seemed too likely for my taste, at the time.

So, jobless, recently single, and living with my brother, I went to the one place I knew you could go once you've completely given up: Craigslist. There I saw an ad promising I could travel the country, see exotic animals, and make 800 dollars a week! I shot off an email and, like a desperate lover, immediately received one back. I was being invited to Wynnewood for an interview with a guy named Kyle.

I filled up my '77 Lincoln Continental the next morning and drove the 98 miles to Wynnewood. Once I'd arrived, it didn't take me long to find Kyle. He was a slovenly dolt in a stained Misfits t-shirt. The kind of degenerate you see transferring dip-spit between off-brand energy drink cans. He greeted me by asking, "do you hate gay people?" I informed him that I did not. He nodded and we walked in total silence through the gift shop, past the animal cages, and into a small ranch style home.

I was led into a room lined with blackout curtains. There before me was a scraggly meth-addled hillbilly sporting a long bleached blonde mullet. He wore a leopard print dress shirt -totally unbuttoned with leather pants. This was Joe Exotic, The Tiger King. Behind him sat a young man probably around my age at the time, playing a WWE game on a PS2.

Joe looked me up and down and suspiciously asked, "Do you work for PETA?" I told him I did not. He explained that PETA had attempted an undercover sting operation on him in an effort to shut him down. He then asked if I had a hidden camera on me. I told him I did not. He asked if I was wearing any recording devices. Again, I said no. Joe repositioned himself revealing the wheelgun on his hip. At this point I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Was I going to be shot dead by a man who looked like he dressed himself in a 1980s Goodwill during a blackout?

He stared at me for a long time. Too long. His eyes were red-rimmed and bloodshot. Finally, he leaned back in his chair and looked more at ease. "Come back next Wednesday and we'll put you to work." No paperwork was signed, no tax forms, no formal agreement made. This was how Joe operated. Kyle then led me back through the gift shop and out to my car. "You'll like it here", he said. Little did I know I was just a few days away from embarking on an odyssey of pure madness with Joe Exotic as my not-so-friendly captain...

Check back to every day for another installment of this first-hand look into an extremely deranged world.

– Jans "Untrustable" Holstrom (@evanhoovler)

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