The ‘Violent Torpedo of Truth’: Who Pays to See Charlie Sheen? We Investigate.


By Ryan Weyls

Charlie Sheen’s “Violent Torpedo of Truth” show became such a violent barrage of heckling at Radio City Music Hall Friday that Sheen fled the stage barely an hour into his promised 90-minute set. That much was expected. But even more than what Sheen would talk about, the question we wanted answers to was “Who pays to see Charlie Sheen?”

Arriving at Radio City’s lobby, we quickly broke down the attendees into six basic categories: Surly, heavily cologned Russian guys; Wall Street dudes, puffy with steak dinners and expectation; down-market New Jersey porn models; heckling college kids; frightened, middle-aged fans of Two and a Half Men; and media.

Seeking to tease out audience characteristics further, we spoke to Jeremiah, a 28-year-old man from Connecticut. Well-dressed and articulate, Jeremiah made small talk about his family, pizza, and his friendship with a famous wigmaker. Jeremiah was pleasant; he seemed like a good guy. Why did he pay to see Charlie Sheen?

“Don’t use my last name,” he said. “I don’t want my boss to know I’m here.”

Assured of anonymity, Jeremiah said he’d gotten swept up by Warlock mania a few months ago and bought 7 tickets for $1,000 with the goal of reselling them for perhaps a few hundred dollars more. As of Friday afternoon, he had sold only 4 tickets for a total of $300.

Making the financial hit more galling for Jeremiah was that he could not persuade any of his friends to take an extra ticket tonight, free of charge, and join him. “I thought I could at least have a good time with my friends and make a little money,” he said. “Neither has occurred.”

As for the show, it followed the same Q&A format used at previous outings in Chicago and Cleveland.

Sheen and cohost Joey Scoleri spent the first 30 minutes rehashing drug anecdotes while hinting that Charlie would soon tell “the truth” about recent events in his life. The actual “truths” that Sheen eventually delivered were underwhelming at best. Sheen revealed that Two and a Half Men was a “bitching job.” He said Oliver Stone is a jerk. He complained that an ex-wife stole his dog. He said that the prostitute he assaulted last year at the Plaza Hotel stole his $173,000 watch. Fun fact: They never even had sex.

Sheen hit storytelling bottom when he implicated his cooler brother Emilio Estevez in one of his meandering whore-chasing tales. Most tiresome was Sheen’s name-dropping of other Hollywood buffoons (Nicholas Cage, Kiefer Sutherland) and relentless use of new catch phrases (“Plan Better”), likely to boost his nascent business of novelty T-shirts.

Sheen’s intended Easter egg for the night was to divulge the origins of his catchphrases, “Tiger Blood,” and “Goddesses.” For the record, Tiger Blood is a reference to a scene from the film Apocalypse Now. As for Goddesses, that was coined by Nicholas Cage after a cocaine bender.

And that’s about all that Charlie Sheen had in store for his audience, some of whom paid four hundred bucks a ticket when they initially went on sale. Having paid only $39 on for a seat 11 rows behind the orchestra pit (original asking price: $129), even we became appalled by Sheen’s thorough lack of preparation.

For people who paid full price, like Jeremiah, the indignity of it became too much to stomach. As Sheen prattled on about smoking crack (“coco puffs”) around the 45-minute mark, Jeremiah rose from his seat and screamed at the stage (“You’re wearing a wig!” “Die!” “I hate you!”)

Audience members nearby joined the jeering while others left, with one woman saying, “You only live once, and I don’t have any more time for Charlie Sheen.”

Straining under the taunts, Sheen pleaded with the audience (“I thought everybody would listen”) while the hapless Scoleri promised that better stories were just around the corner. In a final effort to win back the crowd, Sheen rolled up his sleeve to show off a Yankees tattoo and announced that he loved New York.

New York, in all its drunken, ripped-off and surly permutations, responded that it hated his guts.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 11, 2011

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