PRINT: The Negotiator

Christopher Curtis is applying police techniques to the dangerous world of dating

Pj Perez

The name is hard to get past: M.A.C.K. Tactics. Sounds like something a petty hustler who spends his free time gangsta-leaning at the mall might write, or maybe that guy with the bronzer under his too-tight, shiny shirt who hangs out in the Chippendales Flirt lounge, waiting for the show to let out. However the title is deceiving. Or so Christopher Curtis would like us to believe.

M.A.C.K. Tactics: The Science of Seduction Meets the Art of Hostage Negotiation is a new book by Curtis and his writing partner Rob Wiser that hypes itself as "a complete course of self-improvement for the modern man." Curtis, a 13-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, is a former Marine and spent five years as a hostage negotiator with Metro. Somewhere along the line, the Queens, New York-born cop also found time to embark on promising careers in modeling and writing.

The latter came after a chance meeting with Wiser, a recent Vegas transplant from New York City who co-wrote the 2001 movie Snipes, which starred hip-hop sensation Nelly. Wiser was fascinated with the way Curtis worked his magic with women at the Hard Rock Hotel's Circle Bar one night, and once the two men got to talking, they realized their goals and talents combined for a great partnership.

In between developing new projects with Wiser, keeping the streets of Las Vegas safe and acting as the unofficial Date Doctor for his colleagues in the police force, the charismatic Curtis found a spare moment to give us the lowdown on M.A.C.K. Tactics, shoe modeling and the social ramifications of writing a how-to book on dating.

You look like a young guy.

Everyone tells me that.

Well, you looked older in your pictures.

What pictures? On the website? I'm glad you said that. I'm going to change those pictures immediately.

How long were you a hostage negotiator?

I did that for five long years, all here in Vegas.

Is there much of a need for hostage negotiation in Vegas?

When I was on the team, we had more call-outs than the LA and NYPD. Because it's not always hostage situations. It's more pseudo-hostage, like people who want to commit suicide. Since we have such a high suicide rate, we'd get called out all the time. I remember one day we had three call-outs in a row.

So what was an average day like?

It would just vary, because you still had to do your regular job, whatever it was at the time, and then you would be on-call 24/7. It really made it difficult to have a relationship or a family life. It was really challenging because there were no if, ands or buts—30 minutes, you had to go.

What is your job with Metro now?

Field training, and I'm also on a new team that they created two years ago called the crisis intervention team. I still get called out the way that I used to, but it's only when I'm on duty.

Are you dealing with the same sorts of situations?

It was implemented because what was happening is, we were getting so many calls anytime someone wanted to kill themselves, or there was someone in crisis, they'd say, "OK, let's just get the negotiators." Now they've implemented this team where we're specially trained, so we can decide if SWAT or negotiators need to come out. But we also have the same skills to be able to talk to people in crisis.

Since we're talking about Metro, how did you become the unofficial Date Doctor for the force?

[Laughs] I really am. It's kind of funny. Being single and out there in the dating scene .... See, a lot of these guys are married and stuff like that. And a lot of these cops fall into that stereotypical—you know, married their high-school sweetheart—but they never really lived, so they vicariously lived through my stories. And when they end up divorced, they ask me for pointers on how to get back into the scene. All the cops, from all the way up in the ranks, everyone that knows me, kind of knows what I'm about, and they come to me for advice. I'm like the Metro Hitch.

Rob told me the story about the two of you meeting at the Hard Rock one night.

After a UFC fight. It was at the Circle Bar and we both love writing. Rob wrote a script for Nelly.

And I heard him talk about it, introduced myself, and we just started talking and became friends after that. Rob is brilliant. He brought out a lot of stuff in me that I wanted to do, and he fine-tuned the M.A.C.K. Tactics thing into a book. It was actually all the stuff that I was doing and he was like, "There's a book in this, there's definitely a book in this." And then we were like, "OK." There's a whole new project that we've done. We've actually sold another book.

Along the same lines, or something else?

No, we wrote a book called The Cheat Sheet, which Random House Australia bought. It's the psychology of why men cheat. We were getting all these e-mails from guys wanting help with their M.A.C.K. Tactics and a lot of them were married! We thought, "This is kind of messed up; there's so many married guys are out there in the scene." So we kind of went undercover and did a bunch of different things. We posed as married men, went out and did a ton of research, and we wrote this book, which is coming out in January.

How did you discover you were using negotiation skills out in the dating scene? Did they come naturally, or did you actively use them?

You train so hard as a negotiator—like, there's certain words you can and can't use—and it becomes part of your life. Even when you're talking to your dad or your mom, you don't use the word "problem," or you try not to say "no," or you don't use the word "gun." It becomes part of your life.

Naturally, when I would meet women, it would become part of communicating with them. And Rob kind of identified it. He was like, "There's got to be some reason why you're so successful with women." Because I'm not the greatest-looking guy—I'm short, the whole nines—but I'm incredibly successful with women. I told him I was a negotiator. And he's like, "I wonder if that has anything to do with it." And then we talked about it and we said, "Absolutely, it's got to have something to do with it."

How did the two of you go about researching and writing the book?

It was a lot of fun. I have this many receipts [holds his fingers about 3 inches apart]. Every time I'd go out, I'd write "M.A.C.K. Tactics" on the back, because once I wrote the book, I'd be able to write off going out, drinking and stuff. So we would go out—we called his apartment the Lab—so we would go back to the Lab, I'd sit down in the chair and he would be at the computer, and we'd go over things. He'd say, "How did you use this technique, how did that work?"

After about six months, we had tons of material—that's why this book is Vol. 1—and we'd just condense it. He would call me and ask me questions and I e-mailed him a bulk of information. He'd whittle it down and it came out to be the book.

Did you have an interest in writing before meeting Rob?

I did the typical playing around, little screenwriting classes. Once I met Rob, it became the reality. We have a show optioned to Warner Bros. about me, while I was a hostage negotiator, called 6 Actual, which has a high probability of really becoming a television show. We went out to LA a couple of times and had meetings on it.

The idea was pretty much my life on the team, and the ins and outs. Because people don't understand what goes on in hostage negotiations, to see the personal life, how we deal with people.

Rob mentioned that M.A.C.K. Tactics is a concept that goes beyond the book itself. What does that mean?

One of the most important things that we are putting out with M.A.C.K. Tactics is that it's not just about picking up women; it's about male empowerment. We believe that nowadays, the American male has been emasculated. There's no confidence in what today's American male does. M.A.C.K. Tactics is about building substance in men, and that's why the acronym is "Method, Action, Confidence and Knowledge."

To answer your question, we have a dating site, and the site is going to touch on the things people really like, aside from just photos. So we have the dating site, we have the daily e-mails, apparel, we're going to be throwing a series of M.A.C.K. Tactics parties for people who just don't want to go out and get drunk and have one-night stands—for people who really want to meet people with substance.

You do realize the title of the book somewhat betrays that image?

Yeah, and I'll tell you a little story about that. The police department—and I always go back to my roots in police work—there was a time when they were coming up with innovative ideas to stop gang members from coming into certain areas. Most gangs choose the streets that they live on. So if you lived on 28th Street, you were 28th Street. Or if you live on Brickstone Road, you're the Brickstone Crips. Well, one of the ideas that an officer came up with was, "Let's change the names. Let's make it Lilyflower." So how are you going to be the Lilyflower Crips?

So you take the power away when you remove the name and make it something peaceful. So in M.A.C.K., we're taking the slick-talking, big-brimed-hat-wearing guy, and now M.A.C.K. means something different: method, action, confidence and knowledge.

That's really important to mention, too, because we get confused for that all the time. That's one of the things that Rob and I butt heads on. Because, for marketing purposes, you really want to get the eye candy out there. And for me, it's all about the substance. So from a business aspect sometimes we butt heads, but for the most part, we're on the same sheet of music.

OK, so modeling—how did you get into that and what kind of modeling do you do?

I have modeled for Steve Madden for three years. It's crazy for me, because I just did MAGIC, and I'm so much older than the other models. Sometimes it makes me a little insecure, but they love me there and I love them.

I worked for an agency here that submitted me to work for another company. The Steve Madden scout, Tiffany, saw me, she brought me over to Steve Madden, I ended up working for them, and I never left.

So do you go out of town to do shoots, or is a lot done here?

Most of it's here. But, the thing about shoe modeling—and I knew you were going to ask me about this—is it's not how you look, it's the fact that you have the right-sized foot. So I feel a little shy sometimes when people say, "Oh, you're a model." No, I have the right-sized foot.

Do you plan to stay single?


So what happens to the co-author of M.A.C.K. Tactics when he's no longer single?

You know, not much will really change, because to me, giving out advice I could do whether I was dating someone or whether I was single. And what's really funny is that writing a book about dating has been counterproductive to my dating life. Every woman thinks she's a chapter from the book as soon as she finds out I wrote a book about dating and it's called M.A.C.K. Tactics. I've gotten frantic phone calls from women who I've gone out with: "You're on this website; was I one of your case studies?" I'm like, "No, you weren't. I've written the book. I just really wanted to go out on a date with you."

I had to stop telling people. Before, I was really proud about being a published author and having the website, but as soon as you tell them what it's about, it's like, "Oh, you're a mack." And then I have to go into the whole tirade of explaining what M.A.C.K. means. So it's just a lot easier to meet people and just vibe with them.

The funny thing is, with my other job, I don't want to tell people that I'm a cop. So I'm this enigma really, because if I say I'm a cop, then I hear all the cop stories, and then if I tell them about M.A.C.K., then I hear all the stories about that, so I'm this question mark.

Launch parties:
October 18 at Pure nightclub with the authors and the Mackettes; October 19 at Tangerine; October 20 at Bikinis; October 21 at Coyote Ugly.

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