After finishing Tiger King, I was absolutely shocked at how good Joe's singing voice is. The songs were cheesy and give me secondhand embarrassment, but the voice is incredible.
I knew it was a bit too good to be true and turns out my suspicions were correct – it's a Milli Vanilli situation.
Vanity Fair revealed that the men behind the music are Vince Johnson and vocalist Danny Clinton, who make up The Clinton Johnson Band. (Danny passed away in October, according to TMZ.)
In the interview with Vince and Rick Kirkham, who was featured in Tiger King as the producer of Joe Exotic's reality show, they talked about how Joe doesn't actually have *any* musical talent.
"One time, Joe got a little bit drunk and high, and we actually coaxed him into singing part of one of the songs. He couldn’t even hold a tune," said Rick. "It was just so ludicrous. It was a big joke within the crew and staff that it wasn’t him [singing in the videos]—but he was damned insistent to anyone and everyone, including us and my studio crew, that that was him.”
Romeo Dupuy, a producer who found Joe via Craigslist, also shared why Joe was often filmed hiding behind the grass in videos. “He couldn’t even play the guitar. So we would pose him. When we shot him playing these songs, he would be behind grass to cover up his hands. Then he’d lip-sync.”
According to Vanity Fair, Vince and Danny first got involved with making music for Joe when he asked them to make songs for his reality show for free. They agreed to do so, thinking the reality show would give them exposure. The way it worked was that Joe would give them a subject to write about and they would craft a custom song for him.
But the band was unaware Joe was going to pretend the songs were his. "It was a couple of months and two or three songs [into the collaboration] when I was on YouTube one night and just happened to look up Joe Exotic," said Vince. "And there he was, lip-syncing and acting like the ghost of Elvis [in these music videos]."
"He bamboozled me about his reality show—that it was coming soon and he would make everything right as rain. I just wanted the proper credit.”
Vince and Danny decided to go along with it, thinking the reality show would come to fruition – but it didn't go beyond Joe's YouTube channel, as seen in Tiger King.