Bad boy discusses women and the ‘Truth’ he inspired

(Sue Burdick)
By Mark Shanahan
Globe Staff / July 24, 2009

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Steve Santagati, a self-described bad boy from Tewksbury who is the basis of Gerard Butler’s leading character in “The Ugly Truth,’’ which opens today, knows a thing or two about the opposite sex. Santagati has made a decent living as a relationship guru and says women dig dudes who are authentic and honest, even if that means crude and sometimes chauvinistic. A few years back, Santagati shared his philosophy in “The MANual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate - and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top.’’ Now, his words of wisdom have inspired a feature film. We spoke on the phone this week.

Q. How, exactly, did you get started dispensing relationship advice?

A. Years ago, people just gravitated to me for advice. I don’t know why. Then, when I was an editor at large at Men’s Journal, I used to be on the “Today’’ show, and someone there overheard me talking about guy stuff. Men’s Journal was so disorganized that I could basically go on and talk about anything I wanted.

Q. Not bad.

A. I was friendly with Katie [Couric], and they didn’t want to upset the queen, so they said, ‘‘Make sure that guy’s on all the time.’’

Q. Were you as outspoken as Butler’s character is in the film?

A. I would say, this is the way it is. There was none of that placating women and lying and psychology stuff. I’d say, if you want to go out with a man, you have to understand men. It was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Q. According to you. What’s your expertise, aside from your success with women?

A. Before I started doing this as a formal occupation, I had a lot of experiences with women. But this is more than just my experience. This is a gift. I have intuitiveness when it comes to relationships. Most I can fix in a week if you’re willing to do the work. I don’t get bogged down in the mumbo jumbo about how your mommy and daddy took your Halloween candy away. Do you want to date like a civilian or do you want to join the exclusive private club?

Q. Did you consult on the film?

A. No. Initially, I wasn’t involved. People told me there was a movie about me and I looked at the trailer. I couldn’t believe it. I felt robbed. But this is Hollywood. . . . Finally, they did get in touch with me, and I did a press junket in LA with Gerry [Butler] and Katherine [Heigl]. Gerry said, ‘‘I’ve heard all about you. I don’t know why we didn’t talk to you.’’

Q. Are you getting paid?

A. Yes.

Q. So does Butler’s character think and act like you?

A. Identically. Except there’s the scene where Katherine starts flirting with him while he’s teaching her what to do. Gerry’s character suddenly gets shy. I would grab her by the hair and kiss her.

Q. Butler’s character is called a “man whore.’’ How do you plead?

A. I’ve been called all those things - a dog, a pig, a bastard. But five minutes later, the woman either wants to sleep with me or get relationship advice.

Q. And this is really the way you live your life?

A. That’s correct. This is the way I’ve chosen to live. There’s a very elite group of people out there - bad boys and bad girls - who walk into the world of relationships very differently than everyone else.

Q. Who’s in the group?

A. Gerry, Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp, Tommy Lee, and even Bret Michaels. As cheesy as he is, he’s part of the club. You know who else? Jimmy Fallon.

Q. Is Butler really dating Jennifer Aniston?

A. She’s not his type. His type is my type - dark eyes, dark hair, Brazilian, South American. We had conversations off camera.

Q. Are you destined to stay single?

A. That’s a big misconception about bad boys. This movie parallels my life, actually. I was giving someone relationship advice and we fell for each other. Bad boys won’t settle, but we do fall in love. My relationships are healthy. I won’t stay because it’s comfortable or I’m afraid to be alone.

Q. Did you like the movie?

A. I did. There’s one scene, where Katherine’s character is getting ready to go out, and Gerry slaps her on the ass. The director told me that was improv. I loved that because it’s something I would do. A little bit of chauvinism goes a long way.


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