Big Boy Bares All in New Book 'An XL Life'
The radio prankster explains why he pulled scary prank on 'T.I. & Tiny'
Kurt Alexander, known as Big Boy on the airwaves thanks to his top rated syndicated morning show Big Boy's Neighborhood, bared all in his first book. An XL Life: Staying Big at Half the Size, which hit bookshelves last month, details Big Boy’s early life growing up without his father in Los Angeles and his struggles with weight loss and subsequent health scares.
Loop 21 caught up with the radio prankster to talk about his weight-loss surgery that almost took his life, how not having a father affected him as a dad and why he decided to play that frightening prank on T.I. and Tiny’s hit reality show on VH1.
Loop 21: Why did you decide to write a book about your life and subsequent weight loss?
Big Boy: It’s crazy because I never thought that I’d be a person where people would want to know my story. Even with the weight loss and everything I was going through, I never said, ‘Man, I need to write this down. I need to document everything. This would be a great book.’ The more I spoke with people it was either, ‘How did you lose the weight? How do you feel? I’m thinking about getting it.’ I started talking to so many people, I became sort of this ambassador. And just with life in general, ‘How did you get into radio?’ If they see me out in public, they’d hit me up about it. So once I got a real bite on someone saying you should write a book, I said well maybe that’ll be how I can get to everybody at the mall or everybody at the store. This will be my way of getting out many conversations in one it was a little hard going into some things that were personal in my life but if I was going to tell one, I needed to tell all.
Loop21: And one of the personal things you talk about right away is you nearly dying. Tell me about that experience. Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel?
Big Boy: I really fought for my life. It wasn’t like you were on a morphine or percocet drip and you’re hallucinating or anything. I really fought. I was already feeling bad and then when I went to get the skin removal that’s when I took a real hard turn of what was supposed to be three days. You go in and have this procedure in this Beverly Hills clinic, then you leave and go to step down unit in a hotel. You never make it to a hospital. I took a turn for the worse. I literally fought for my life. I was in the ICU and in the hospital for over 10 days before I could say, ‘Let me get out of here.’ I know I was dying. I felt like if I wanted to check out at that time I could have.
Loop21: Wow. How has that changed you?
Big Boy: It’s not something that’s over me everyday, like, ‘Oh, I gotta get up because I almost died,’ or, ‘Oh, I gotta’ get up because I had to fight for my life,’ I mean it’s always there to go back to, and reflect on and be thankful for what I have for today. It did make me really appreciate things even more it sounds corny but [to appreciate] a blade of grass, looking up at the clouds, being able to hug my kids. When I was fighting for my life, my wife was eight months pregnant and just being able to hold my baby. I mean it showed me then that everything that we have--when people say, ‘Oh, you’re not promised tomorrow.’ I really understand that.
Loop21: You're also very open about your hesitancy seeking therapy. Do you think there's a stigma on therapy in the black community?
Big Boy: It was more so, I’m not hesitant or I’ve never been hesitant to talk about me. ...I never thought that I need to go to therapy and speak to a stranger. I can get on the phone and talk to a real person, who knows me and knows where I came from and can give me a square answer that pertains to me as opposed to go and lay on some body's couch that’s going to give me the general answer that he gave the guy 20 minutes before me... I’m not opposed to talking to anyone especially since I wrote the book. Even with writing the book, I had to go back and peel some layers off. The book was therapeutic to me.
Loop21: Another subject that you touch on in the book is your father and his absence in your life, which is unfortunately a common story in our community. Do you think that affected you with your children?
Big Boy: Indirectly, yes. And it’s not like I said, ‘I’m going to be a great father because my father wasn’t there.’ My mother was the greatest father that anyone could ever have. I just know, as a person, what my responsibilities are and that’s me as a brother, as a friend, as an uncle, as a husband and also as a farther. I know what my responsibilities are. Anything that I sign up to do, God willing, I’m going to do my best. As a father, I love my kids. I love my wife. I love to see my kids smile. I love to watch them sleep, but some people aren’t programmed like that. Some people can make the baby and move on. I’m just not that person.
Loop21: What has been the biggest surprise with the success of your radio career?
Big Boy: The biggest surprise to me was being this guy that can come in and turn on a microphone and buy my mom a house. ...Aside from that on the entertainment side, the people that I was fans of that I got a chance to meet has always been amazing. I’ve always been a fan of Ice Cube. And with Cube, you know, doing my shows, doing my birthday parties; that’s still crazy to me. Sitting down with Michael Jackson--you think you grew up with Michael Jackson, so you never thought you could sit down with Michael Jackson one-on-one and have these hours with him. Looking at billboards--I’ve been in Los Angels my whole life. And to drive down the street and see a billboard where I’ve caught the bus or have passed by in my life; that’s amazing to me.
Loop21: A lot of people are talking about your recent appearance on TI & Tiny. Why did you decide to pull that prank?
Big Boy: You know what, for one, I didn’t know that was going to be on TI and Tiny’s show. I have a good deal with VH1 so we were like, let’s just go in and do something real quick. At the time, I did have a feeding tube and all that because I had just taken a little health hit in October and I had just turned my machine off that morning. So the feeding tube, the backpack, everything was here. But you know what it is, it was just being dumb, ignorant, whatever you want to call it. I just saw an opportunity and I took it. I like to have fun anyway. There’s a lot of things that we do in the Neighborhood that never make it to VH1. That just so happened to make it to VH1. When I saw the promo--because people started hitting me on Twitter like, ‘Man are you alright?’ I started getting texts and people calling me saying, ‘Man, you had a seizure.’ And I’m like, ‘Naw, man, I didn’t have a seizure.’ ...When I saw the promo I said, yea that looks bad. They pretty much sold the show on my health. I’ll sue VH1 very soon (Laughs).