When fans gathered yesterday to witness the 13th stop on Charlie Sheen's "My Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour, they hoped Sheen would bring along his secret weapon: domestic rage. That morning, Sheen had emerged on the losing end of a Los Angeles court hearing, in which he he had attempted to regain full custody of his twin sons from estranged wife Brooke Mueller. Outside DAR Constitution Hall, one fan told me he was eager to "see what happened from his court date today, see if he's angry," he said. "I'm sure it didn't make him happy, so we'll see how that comes out in the show tonight. That's part of the fun of it, seeing how he can act out his own life. That's the draw for me."
When pressed to consider the history of domestic violence that may have contributed to that "draw," some fans were less forthcoming. Take, for example, the two decades worth of allegations that Sheen has treated the women in his life to a gunshot wound (1990), a blow to the head (1994), a throw to the floor (1996), death threats (2006), a knife to the throat (2009), a hotel-room rampage (2011), and a threatened beheading. How fun is that?
"I happen to be a theater person and a person interested in the arts, and so I'm interested in his career, not so much in his personal life," one fan told me when asked about Sheen's history with domestic violence allegations. "I think sometimes you have to separate the artist from the art," another said. "If you can call this art."
Sheen was less interested in separating art from biography. “Hope you had a better fucking day than I did,” Sheen told his fans after an opening video montage featuring classic film moments of people being shot in the head and eaten by sharks. Instantly, Sheen delivered on the rage. "You might be thinking it's Brooke 1, you zero," Sheen said, before drawing a new tally: “Me a bazillion, Brooke fucking zero. . . . It’s a little bizarre that she’s in rehab right now, and I’m sitting up here like a fucking rock star.” The crowd went wild.
Throughout, Sheen insisted that his nationwide live tour and his personal battles are intimately intertwined. “I’m not supposed to talk about what happened, but it did feel a little bit like Detroit,” Sheen said, comparing losing custody of his children to his abysmal first tour performance. The tirade against Mueller and, at times, ex-wife Denise Richards, continued for the better part of an hour. What was Sheen thinking when the judge ruled against him at the morning custody hearing? “What he would look like turning on a spit," Sheen said. What punishment would Sheen visit on Muammar Gaddafi? “I’d make him marry Brooke and Denise, that's a slow motherfucking death.” The obsession seeped into Sheen's attempts at free-association. What word comes to mind when Sheen thinks of "slut"? "Ex-wives," Sheen spat back.
The misogyny stretched far past Richards and Mueller. When Comedy Central roast regular Jeff Ross took the stage, he spent equal time roasting Sheen and his sometime companion Bree Olson, a porn performer who was not present for the show. Every woman in the audience was treated as a potential receptacle for Sheen's penis. When Ross invited one woman onstage to ask Sheen a question, Ross presented her to Sheen, saying, "Charlie, she's almost fuckable!" As Sheen considered the physical requirements of being declared a "goddess," a live feed projecting onto a screen behind Sheen scanned the audience for women who would make the cut. "Those couple of sluts are looking good!” the guy in front of me called out.
The show was, of course, teeming with misanthropy, too. Drunk fans taunted Sheen from the back rows, trashing him over his brother's involvement in the Mighty Ducks series and rumors that John Stamos was set to replace Sheen in Two and a Half Men. Ross eviscerated both Sheen and the fans who paid to see his "apparently the novelty hasn't worn off tour," identifying male audience members as "gay cowboy" and "the Rainman of winning."
But while Sheen and fans delighted in the mutually-destructive release, Mueller, Richards, and Olson were absent, leaving Sheen to shape the parameters of the exercise. Between bits, Sheen dipped into self-seriousness, reminiscing over childhood memories of Marlon Brando and emphasizing his committment to fatherhood. “I had one day off. I did the right thing. I was there for my children,” Sheen said, as if one morning spent refraining from attacking the mother of his children in front of a thousands-strong live audience counted as parental investment. "The system is totally fucking broken."