Mister Gary of Them Yo People! Earned His Crown By Being So St. Louis | Arts Stories & Interviews | St. Louis | St. Louis News and Events

click to enlarge Mr. Gary at the St. Louis Mayor's Mardi Gras Ball in 2022. - TYLER SMALLS

Mr. Gary at the St. Louis Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball in 2022.

As the host of Them Yo People!, local television star Gary Boyd is the underground king of St. Louis. Best known as “Mister Gary,” Boyd has been hosting the show since 2013. On it, he travels all around St. Louis and surrounding areas to present viewers with a slice of the St. Louis experience.

Known as the “King of Hospitality,” the always-polite Boyd shows off all different types of St. Louis culture, from what’s happening at the big events to what’s happening at the corner store.

The people featured on his show are relatable (they’re your people, after all) and often wildly funny. Boyd seems to bring out the best in those he comes across, and he does it all while wearing a velvet crown and carrying a scepter, naturally.

His outfits not only make him stand out in a crowd; they’re also curated to show respect for the organizations behind the event he is attending. For example, he’ll wear pink for a Susan G. Komen affair, blue for the St. Louis Blues, and gold and black for U City and Mizzou events.

Boyd’s thoughtfulness extends to all of his endeavors, whether it’s his television show, his Streetz 105.1 radio show or his latest gig as a host of the traveling UniverSoul Circus. That’s right, Mister Gary is representing St. Louis in a tour of twelve cities.

During his circus tour, Boyd will be honoring the hospitality heroes who have helped us out during the pandemic. Boyd stresses that they’re just as important as the people on the front lines and that he wants to celebrate “people who are at their kitchen cleaning, washing dishes, cleaning hospitals from COVID.”

click to enlarge Gary Boyd is Mr. Gary, the host of Them Yo People! - COURTESY GARY BOYD

Courtesy Gary Boyd

Gary Boyd is Mr. Gary, the host of Them Yo People!

The University City man always seems to end up using his fame for good, but admits that he gets recognized everywhere these days, even if he isn’t wearing his trademark crown and velvet jacket. Boyd told us of a time where he was caught by fans out in public wearing his Mizzou pajama pants. He doesn’t plan on letting that happen again. In fact, his plans for the future are big: He hopes to interview Andy Cohen, another king of St. Louis. Boyd says he’s sure Cohen could give him some pointers and that they have a lot in common since they’re both constantly working to represent St. Louis well to the rest of the country.

We interviewed Boyd a few weeks ago and found him to be even more warm and friendly than he is on his show.

Tell me all about how you became Mister Gary.

I came up in the church: United Methodist Church. I was in the youth group and did Bible study. We just did so many different things [in church] that prepared me, because I became the president of the youth group, the president of the choir — leadership roles. And then when I went to University City High School, I was the business manager of the newspaper at the time and the business manager of the yearbook.

Then I left there and went to Mizzou. And at Mizzou I [worked] in the financial aid office, which is how I got the opportunity to see so many different people from so many different cultures, because they all had to come to me to get their scholarship money and their grant money to come through. And so when people see the show, and they see me wearing the black and gold, that’s me showing my spirit for U City.

So you’ve always been about leadership and people have always been looking to you as a sort of guide.

Yeah, because my very first job was in University City at the swimming pool and the concession stand. And then in the winter, I worked at the skating rink, and so [I] always was in that service capacity, providing good customer service, providing people with the opportunity to know that somebody cared and wanted to see that they had a good time. Because that’s really what it’s about. It’s about going out to get great service and to make memories.

And now with COVID, people think twice when they just go out and spend money. Money is not as easy to come by as it once was. And people are paying closer attention to it. So that’s why I’m encouraging people to skip the chain restaurants and stores and go to those small mom-and-pop places before they are gone, too.

My ultimate wish in life is that I would like to see us have a Hospitality Day or a Hospitality Week. And that’s something that we’re working on now. On Hospitality Day, you would go to your favorite restaurant, and you could tip the people you love. Or you could do some home cooking and take care of your grandma or mom or dad. You don’t need Christmas or Thanksgiving to cook and invite them over.

We’ve gotten so far away from all of that. And I think it all goes back to the home training. I always ask people: The way that you’re acting now, is this how you would act in front of your elders? As long as you do that, you’re going to be acting right.

I’ve been at events where you’ve been there, too, and I’ve seen you shut down people very well if they’re being rude or they’re drunk or whatever. I love that you’re the King of Hospitality, but you will also shade people into submission.

Because they try you, you know! Here’s the deal: First of all, I am so St. Louis. Period. I’ve been there, I’ve done it. So growing up in University City is one thing. But then when I finished college and came back, I worked at the Millennium Hotel and went on to be the assistant manager. I was able to see people from all walks of life. And I tell you, I have had the pleasure of meeting and having dinner with Diana Ross, with Mary J. Blige, with Elton John, with LL Cool J, with Nelly, with Elton John. I mean, the list goes on. These are people that when you sit down and you talk to them one on one, they just wanted to talk about St. Louis and what is this place? We have to represent ourselves well.

I just make sure that [when] we’re out there doing what we’re doing [filming in the streets], I make sure that we’re doing it correctly. I make sure that people are not rude. I make sure that everybody is respecting everybody. And I make sure that everybody gets the opportunity to have a fair chance and to be respected and enjoy life. And that’s what it’s all about.

So that goes back to hospitality, all of it. Everything you do goes back to hospitality. How are you treating people? And are you treating people the way you want to be treated?

Thinking back on when I’ve seen it happen — when I’ve seen you shut people down — yeah, it was always when someone interrupted or someone was being rude.

And to the young people I would say, “Come get your people.” [Meaning: Please come get your friend and take them away.]

Because that’s how the show really got its name. We all have those people in our families and our friendships. Maybe someone went away to college, and now they think they’re better than everybody, right? Maybe somebody is an alcoholic. Maybe somebody is a drug addict. Maybe somebody just got out of jail. Maybe somebody has a hard-working mom, somebody just had a baby. But guess what? All of them is yo people.

So it’s the whole movement. It’s so easy for us to all look at ourselves and say, “You know what? We all got people in our lives who need some extra help.” So what can we do to see to it that we can all get along just a little bit better?

You just never really know when you’re making a difference. And when you have people come up and tell you about how their mom who had cancer watched you, it means so much. I’ve had so many people who’ve been incarcerated contact me and say, “Mister Gary, you know how you helped me get through my time? You don’t know how good it was to turn on the TV and see St. Louis streets. To see where we came from.”

I always like to leave them with a message and say “Hey, look, y’all need to stop running these phone bills up. You need to get out of there and get home to your children. You need to get out to see your mama.”

I just like to leave everyone with a positive message. And I’m just so glad to have a platform where I’m able to do it.

Them Yo People! can be found on KDNL in St. Louis. See KDNL schedule for times.
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