Beyond being a country singer, TV show host, 2016 presidential candidate, zoo owner, and convicted criminal, Joe Exotic, real name Joe Maldonado-Passage, was a definite style icon in Tiger King. Even if you haven’t seen the seven-part Netflix docuseries yet, if you’ve been on the internet at all since the show’s release on March 20, 2020, you’ve seen Exotic. He’s captured audiences’ attention in so many ways, but one understated Exotic quality is his unrelenting, eye-popping, blue eyeliner along his waterline. If you’re looking to achieve the true Tiger King look, here are some eyeliners Exotic might have worn on Tiger King.
Sadly, as of April 9, Exotic hasn’t revealed what products he used to achieve his look. NYMag’s Intelligencer reported that he has eyeliner tattooed around his eyes, but before you book the first open appointment with your tattooist to get inked, tattoo makeup is semi-permanent. The color fades over time, generally lasting from one to three years. In the later episodes, the shots of Exotic in jail show that his eyeliner is almost nonexistent. So, even if Exotic did tattoo on his eyeliner, he likely still used extra products during the show’s filming to achieve the bold color seen throughout Tiger King.
With such striking light eyes, it’s not surprising Exotic went for a color that really makes his eyes pop. Blue compliments blue. Even though the color is bold, Exotic’s style leads me to believe he’s using eyeliner pencils and gels rather than liquid liners. Not only is liquid eyeliner incredibly difficult to apply to the waterline, but it also creates a very defined, pigmented line that Exotic didn’t seem to have throughout the series. The look is much more reminiscent of a pencil’s blurred-out edges.
Personally, I see the former zoo owner as a drugstore makeup kind of man, but overall, Exotic’s tastes skewed wildly from affordable to expensive. So, taking his love of Walmart into consideration with his more lavish tastes, I’ve come up with a list of possible eyeliner’s Exotic may have used.
Maybelline’s New York Eyestudio Lasting Drama Waterproof Gel Eye Pencil in Lustrous Sapphire ($13, Walmart) goes on easy and promises all-day wear. Given Exotic’s reputation of being pretty emotional during the workday, this pencil’s waterproof promise definitely gives it a good chance of being on his makeup counter. Not to mention, it’s found at an Exotic favorite: Walmart.
NYX’s Deep Blue Retractable Eye Liner ($6, NYX Professional Makeup) is a pretty close shade match to the color Exotic seems to favor. The fact that this pencil never needs to be sharpened makes it easy to use. Although fans never get a look at Exotic’s bathroom, his messy bedroom leads me to believe this pencil’s lack of fuss would make it a staple for him.
The busy guy that he is, Exotic needs an eyeliner that stays on through tiger shows, campaign parades, and date nights. Revlon’s ColorStay Eyeliner in Sapphire ($6, Target) keeps its intense color for up to 16 hours – and is waterproof – so he can get it all done without worrying about reapplying. There’s also a built-in sharpener on the opposite end, so it’s all-in-one.
As I mentioned before, the Tiger King enjoys luxury brands every once in a while. If he went down the brand-name route, Yves Saint Laurent Eyeliner Effect Faux Cils Shocking in Majorelle Blue ($34, Yves Saint Laurent) seems up his alley with its fancy, calligraphy-style liner, even though the felt-tip doesn’t offer the easiest application for under-eye liner. Sometimes, that’s the price of luxury.
Everybody likes a little extra pop some days, so when Exotic wanted to feel extra glam, he may have gone with Glossier’s Adult Swim Colorslide Gel Eyeliner ($15, Glossier). Glossier sounds off-brand for the Tiger King, but the cult-favorite Instagram brand could have spoken to Exotic’s love of attention. This pencil also has glitter, which would pair amazingly with any of Exotic’s sequined, tiger-print shirts.
As someone who cut feeding costs to his tigers by feeding them expired Walmart meat, Exotic loves a deal. e.l.f’s. Satin Eyeliner Pencil in Navy ($2, e.l.f.) not only boasts a creamy formula that leaves behind a silky finish, but it’s also incredibly cheap. Color, function, and style for only $2? How could Exotic say no?
If there’s one thing to take away from Exotic’s many sleeveless tops, it’s that he’s a man who likes comfort and fashion together. Therefore, he’d likely choose an eyeliner that goes on softly, like L’Oreal Paris’ Infallible Pro-Last Waterproof Pencil Eyeliner ($8, Target). Made to not irritate eyes, this formula glides on, so there’s no need to roughly rub the color into the waterline.
Another higher-end brand that may have spoken to the Tiger King is Marc Jacobs’ Beauty Highliner Liquid Gel Eyeliner in Tw(ink)le ($27, Sephora). Although I said I personally don’t see Exotic using liquid eyeliner on his under eyes, it’s up to interpretation. If you think the country singer would go for the boldest look he could, liquid eyeliner makes sense. It gives you strong, defined lines that could say, “That’s the Joe Exotic I know.”
Baselessly, Exotic strikes me as a guy who sees himself as a modern pirate. The best way to recreate the pirate effect of applying eye makeup is to use a thick crayon. For Exotic to achieve this look, he might go with NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in Dark Blue ($5, NYX Professional Makeup). It’s reminiscent of the thick smudge Jack Sparrow rocks throughout Pirates of the Caribbean, which could be part of the inspiration behind Exotic’s eyeliner.
For his video transformation into the self-proclaimed Tiger King, Beautuber Patrick Starrr went with Urban Decay’s Deep End Glide-On Eye Pencil ($22, Urban Decay). However, the color is very bright, even for the eccentric Exotic; his eyeliner colors steered more toward navy and dark blue rather than neon. If you’re inclined to follow Starrr’s advice and turn to Urban Decay, I would recommend going with the LSD 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil ($22, Urban Decay), as the color is more accurate to what Exotic appears to wear.