Born in Columbia, Mo., to Bob and Mary Ann Shaw, the second of four boys (and the daughter his mother always wanted), Curtis enjoyed a traditional, mostly happy, often boring and pastry-addicted childhood in the Midwest. Early highlights include winning first place in a local Optimist Club Oratorical contest in 1975 and placing second place in the same contest the following year (because, his father said, he had chosen not to wear a tie).

He met his life partner Desmond Child in the spring of 1989 while managing an Upper West Side eatery. Having celebrated 25 years together, Desmond and Curtis have built a life together that has taken them all over the world, settling in the great city of Nashville, Tenn. Curtis' greatest project to date has been the role of Papa to twins Roman and Nyro.