Entrepreneur, fashion designer and media personality Gary With Da Tea is known for his signature swag and fabulous radio personality that will have you laughing your socks off. Want to know celebrity gossip, keep up on the latest fashion dos and don’ts, or wondering what’s the “Colour of the day”? Well, da tea king is at your service.
Here, Gary discusses his new fashion venture and working with Rickey Smiley and the morning show crew.
Tell us about your underwear line.
Well, we are about to start filming the third season. I’ve been working with the guy that will be distributer for my thong line. I’m excited about it! I think all men should have at least one thong. I mean because it’s free, it’s exhilarating, and it just allows you be free. It’s easy access! You know, you don’t have to worry about pulling your underwear out of your butt. You just put on your nice thong, honey, and you just go!
What has the reception been like from potential buyers?
Believe it or not! A lot of men come to me and talk about it. A lot of women even come and talk about it for their husbands and men. It’s funny, I’ve been telling Rickey to get some of his frat brothers, some ‘Que Dawgs’ to buy one. So, it’s exciting!
Why do the men like them?
Men have panty lines, too, well some of them. The big, old man look. Women like seeing a man’s nice smooth butt, so nobody wants to see all of those Fruit of the Loom lines.
Did you come to Atlanta with Rickey Smiley from Dallas?
Oh, yeah. You see, Rickey moved to Dallas and I worked as his personal assistant for seven years. I had worked on the radio with Steve Harvey prior to that. I started working for Rickey and then became a part of his radio show in Atlanta. At the time, Rickey didn’t like the white people at the radio station. Then, they told him that he should do more publicity where the Blacks are. So, he moved here. We started doing “Dish Nation” here.
You’ve been doing a lot of filming and production here in Atlanta. What it’s like to be in that area of the industry?
You know what? It’s really interesting, believe it or not. It’s fun and not that tiresome because I like doing it. Oprah always says, “If you like doing something so bad, you’ll do it for free.” I’ve done my free days and I’ll still do some free days. It’s simple. We do the radio show from six to ten. Then, from ten to one or two, we do Dish Nation. Then, from three to about six, we do the “Rickey Smiley For Real” reality show.
What time do you get up in the morning?
What time do you get in the bed?
Usually sometime around 11 p.m. or 12 a.m.
Is that enough sleep for you?
Somewhat. It might not be enough but that’s what I do. So, it’s fine.
You’ve always managed to keep yourself looking nice. Why is that important for you?
Oh honey, looks are everything! I mean I used to work for a guy by the name of Steve Harvey. He would always say, “You dress for the job you want, not for the one you have.” So my thing is, I love looking nice because that’s just how I was raised. My parents always told me to, you know, look nice. Let me tell you about my experience in Houston. I was going through some things, nothing bad. I got arrested and went to jail. So, I stayed in jail for a couple of days. My parents couldn’t find me. Nevertheless, I had to go to court. So, I went to court honey, wearing my nice denim jacket, pants and white shoes with the Gucci colors (I called them my Gucci shoes). I get to court and the lady tells me, “Oh. It looks like you’re about to catch a yacht!” They gave me a court appointed lawyer, and took my lawyer from me. My daddy had to hire me another lawyer all because I was dressed very nicely. They told us to always look nice when you go somewhere, so that’s what happens. I still believe in looking nitty. I think everybody should look nice. It’s not that expensive.
How long have you been in the radio industry?
I’ve been in the radio business for about 30 years.
How have things have changed in your opinion?
Oh yeah! Things have changed. This is the thing. I feel bad for people that go to college. I got my degree in business management. I know a lot of people that go to school for radio, TV, and film. It’s just so hard to get into the business. People are not leaving unless they die out of it. It used to be who you know. Now, it’s what you know. It’s really interesting.
Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Port Arthur, Texas.
Where did you attend college to earn your business management degree?
I graduated from Northwood University in Texas.
How did you end up in radio?
I moved to Dallas in ’89. I called Russ Parr, he was on the radio one day. I just did call-ins. Whatever I said to him, he laughed at it and I just kept calling in every day. Also, I would generally go meet him during the remote just to mess around with him. At that time, I was just doing what I like to do. In today’s times, they would call you a “groupie”. I called in so many times. Russell would either give me tickets to events or he would give me $20 as a form of pay. At that time, I was in the medical field. My momma wanted me to be a nurse, working in the hospitals and stuff. That was just something that I played with. Eventually, one thing led to another. I wanted to be on the station’s payroll, not to continue to be paid by Russell. About ten years later, I went to broadcasting school. I didn’t want to be doing this and not know what the people were doing.
Did you attend broadcasting school in Texas?
Yes, in Dallas. I went to American Broadcasting School. After things stopped with Russ, I went on to work for Rolling Out magazine. I used to deliver newspapers. My friend Kim was the manager. I used to get up early in the morning, honey. I didn’t want to miss a beat so I delivered the newspapers in the morning and attended events in the evenings. So, no one knew I was out of radio because I was still around.
All of this was long before social media, right?
Lord, yes! Social media wasn’t even thought about. If it was, it wasn’t born yet.
How do you use social media?
I use it just enough. I’m not about to pour out my whole damn life on social media. I do what I need to do for Twitter and Instagram and all of that. I do post for the radio show and stuff, but that’s it.
Do your fans connect with you there?
Oh yeah! Oh yeah! They connect with me. Very well.
Who do you work with on the “Rickey Smiley Show”?
Yeah. I work with Miss Juicy, Da Brat, Rickey Smiley, HeadKrack, Rocky Turner, and all of them. Yeah we all work together.
You’re around these people all day? So they have become family.
Oh yes, honey, all day! We all work together and see each other. Me and Juicy we are really close. When we are off the clock, we don’t really hang like that. Everyone has their own life and half of them are married.
How do you decompress? What do you do?
I go to the mall. I shop a lot. I need to stop doing so much shopping. I need to be a little more sociable. I don’t socialize that much here in Atlanta. I will drive to Texas to clear my mind. I love to drive! I don’t mind driving because I don’t fly. My nerves are too bad. When I drive, I get on my Bluetooth and talk to people I haven’t talked to in a while.
Which days of the week do you work? Monday through Friday?
Yes I do. I work every day of the week. Unless I go home. I’ll work Monday through Thursday when we film Dish Nation. We are just starting to film on Fridays. Sometimes, I get off work around 1pm and I get in my car and drive home to Dallas that Thursday night. I will broadcast Friday morning from Dallas.
What happens when you get home?
When I get home, I go in my house, turn the TV on to catch the news, and then go to bed. I get up the next morning and go to work. I’ll be in Dallas from Thursday to Saturday and then go to Oxford where my mom lives. I’ll chill on Sundays and then drive back here.
What’s your favorite meal that she cooks for you?
Okra, shrimp, and sausage. I love it! Oh and potato salad. That’s what we love.