Jun. 23—PITTSBURG, Kan. — When he went to bed on Thursday, March 19, 2020, John Reinke was a self-described "ordinary man." Waking up that next morning, he was anything but that.
Overnight, Netflix had dropped a documentary featuring big cats and even bigger human egos centered on a zookeeper named Joe Exotic.
More than 34 million people over the next 10 days binge-watched "Tiger King," the eight-episode drama, obsessing over its complicated murder-for-hire plot and its cast of kooky characters led by Carole Baskin.
Reinke, former manager of the now infamous G.W. Zoo, was caught in the center of a feeding frenzy.
Now Reinke can be seen once again discussing everything Joe Exotic as he headlines a Q&A show debuting at 6 p.m. Saturday at Kansas Crossing Casino. Called "Uncaged: The Untold Stories from the Cast of Tiger King," it also will feature other series favorites, including Saff, Joshua Dial and Barbara Fisher.
"I thought I was in a pandemic with everyone else, but by the end of March I was famous," Reinke said in a phone interview. "It's just crazy. It's just one of them things that you never would think would happen in your wildest dreams, that you would be, first, be involved in a murder-for-hire plot and, second, be known worldwide.
"It's just pretty surreal for me."
Reinke, easily recognizable by his prosthetic legs, served as the zoo's manager for 14 years. His sense of humor and compassion for the animals he cared for quickly endeared him to millions of worldwide viewers, and he was the glue that held G.W. Zoo together for so long.
"I'll be up on stage talking about ('Tiger King'), which is nuts," Reinke said of the slated Saturday show. "I mean ... I was doing on my job every day, and then it became this hot documentary. I don't know if I'm ever going to have grandkids, but if I do, I don't know how I'm going to tell them how I got mixed up in this crazy real-life scene that turned into a documentary — and now it's going to be a movie" starring Nicolas Cage as Joe Exotic. "Just crazy."
On stage, the four people from the documentary will come out one at a time and interact with show host Todd McComas for roughly 70 minutes.
"We will answer questions about things that happened on the show and stuff that didn't get viewed on the documentary," Reinke said. "At the end of it, when all four of us are onstage, we'll discuss and cuss and complain to each other; we'll also laugh and argue and we get mad."
A live audience Q&A session will follow.
"Everybody needs to think up some hard questions because I'll answer them — I'm not scared," Reinke said of the Q&A session.