by Javier Hasse, Benzinga Editor
August 5, 2023 2:00 PM
His perspectives on the system are clear, and he's unafraid to voice them: "Our system is so corrupt and so backwards that nobody can get the right help, nobody can get the right justice. And they're taking it out on innocent people because they can't get to the politicians."
In his presidential run, Exotic is driven by a desire to challenge the status quo, make history and amplify the voices of the unheard. He advocates for politicians to be held accountable for their actions, even suggesting a minimum 10-year sentence for those who violate their oaths. As he states: "I am going to say what nearly 200 million people in this country are scared to say: It is time to clean up Washington."
"We've got people in prison that are dying because they can't get medical help. They're treated like animals...They're not given the proper medical treatment. They're not given the proper mental health treatment," he says.
Exotic's perspectives serve as a reminder of the inherent complexities and contradictions within human nature. Whether or not one agrees with his viewpoints, there is no denying that Joe is unflinchingly authentic.
Cut The World Off
On international policy, Exotic is unabashed in his belief in nationalistic self-preservation. He asserts that America should prioritize its domestic issues, including climate change and economic struggles, over international crises. In this sense, he is staunch in his belief that American tax dollars should primarily benefit American citizens.
What’s more, he suggests a "$50 a month, non-citizen Social Security tax" for immigrants, which could contribute to the American healthcare system. His proposal? A five-year time frame for immigrants to gain citizenship or an alternative of three years of military service.
"Why should anybody from Mexico or Guatemala or Pakistan or China or Japan come here and not have to sacrifice anything and still not be an American citizen? My dad fought for our freedom in Korea," he elaborates. "So, why should you have to pay for somebody to come from another country to get free healthcare?"
Controversy And Conservation: Joe's Stance on Animal Rights
Exotic's stance on animal conservation is as controversial as the man himself. He argues that zoos might be the only way to ensure the survival of species like tigers, given the rapid decline of natural habitats. He passionately defends his decision to call his facility a "zoo" rather than a "sanctuary," asserting that he always provided a safe haven for animals, not exploiting them.
Reflecting on his zoo, Exotic says, "I had the most beautiful, privately owned zoo in the world… Anybody who ever complained about my cages being too small... All they had to do is donate money to build a bigger cage.”
Despite his many roles, from zoo owner and reality TV star to nightclub manager, one thing remains constant: Exotic's unwavering belief in personal autonomy. "I believe that you own your body and you have the right to pursue whatever you want for your body as long as you don't hurt someone else," he explains. He expresses dissatisfaction with the existing system and emphasizes the need for changes that respect the rights and freedoms of individuals, including abortion, regardless of their political affiliation.
LGBTQ+ Rights And Social Perspectives
An openly gay man, Exotic is vocal about LGBTQ+ rights, yet he fears that the push for acceptance of diverse identities may be becoming overbearing, risking setbacks for the community.
He also brings up the complexities surrounding ongoing discussions about transgender rights. He argues that while acceptance and inclusivity are crucial, the discourse must avoid alienating the larger public. In a moment of candor, Exotic shares, "I don't know why the hell I'm gay. I fight it every day and have for 57 years." Still, he champions the LGBTQ+ community's struggles and conquests, and remains an active advocate for its rights.
But Exotic's outlook is far from straightforward, and the controversy surrounding his life and views continues to attract attention. His perspectives range from the unapologetically self-serving to the passionately humane. There's no denying his steadfast belief in the power of personal autonomy and the need for an equitable justice system, even as he grapples with his own demons.
As a cultural figure, Joe Exotic's life and philosophies are a testament to the complexities of the human condition. His journey from the king of an exotic animal park to a federal prisoner and a presidential candidate has been filled with twists and turns.
Exotic remains an emblem of resistance, a symbol of justice for some, and a stark reminder of the deep divisions within American society for others. But above all, he remains Joe Exotic: candid, controversial, and unapologetically himself.
In his own words, "I've lived my life being exotic. It's about standing up for what you believe in, being yourself, not caring what anybody else thinks. I am who I am, you love me or you hate me." As he continues to navigate through his life, one thing is for sure, whether you love him or hate him, Joe Exotic will continue to make his mark, in his own unique and unconventional way.
* Author’s note: Exotic had previously announced a foray into the cannabis space in 2021, after striking a deal with “Wonder Years” star Jason Hervey. However, the deal fell through and the TV star found a new partner in 2023.