Veni, Vedi ... He was affable, and charming.
Charlie Sheen's 21-stop My Violent Torpedo of Truth show, ending in Washington on May 3, slid into Toronto - the ninth stop - Thursday? night to a wild, hero's reception.
Having just played in Boston to mixed reactions, Sheen arrived on Wednesday in his private jet, and was photographed in the appalling act of smoking.
His smoking made sad, provincial headlines, as did widow Wendy Newman's request that Sheen toast her husband's ashes. (He reminded her of him, and she watched Two and a Half Men reruns in her deepest grief.)
What should have made headlines? That all of the reported booing at the shows, starting with Sheen's Detroit debut, is the sole evaluation of drunk, stupid pig-men and shocking, just-as-drunk harridans.
I know this because I sat with them at Massey Hall last night. In front of the woman scream-bragging about Justin Bieber, "YEAH AN HE GAVE ME DIS HUG AND SAYS HI TA BRITNEY!" The sweaty Bigfoot who kept screaming "I WANT THE TRUTH" and various jet-decibel shout-outs to crack, breasts and, at one point, "Blargggghhh!"
The show was a short, quiet little affair. Sheen entered after Russell Peters, the Toronto comic who stepped in to co-host at the last minute, and to the theme from Jaws.
This was after we had been crammed together for an hour in troll-sized seats, then shown clips from horror films: Sheen would later compare his life to a mixture of Jaws and Apocalypse Now.
Peters was funny, and he swiftly protected Sheen with deft insults from some of the more vigorously imbecilic crowd members. But he dominated the show entirely, and I did not call in a favour from my bookie to sit in the sky and listen to him: I thought he performed at Jack Astor's on wing night.
If Sheen, denuded of his little-boy shorts and bowling shirts (his Two and a Half Men gear) was starkly handsome in a black T-shirt and jeans, he was far too quiet, and seemed to cringe at the catchphrases he was working just weeks ago.
No, it was the crowd, perhaps refugees from an insane asylum, perhaps furious (that is to say, average fans) - who are following Sheen because he was fired, and actually think behaving like Satan's minions is an act of solidarity - who yelled out the catchphrases.
"I don't trust the mainstream media," Sheen observed, when he could get a word in edgewise.
I see his point now, vividly.
Throughout the tour, all I have read are smug, pompous reports of Sheen failing, and worse, analyses of why.
Consider Vanity Fair, in the midst of the Sheen-storm, putting Rob Lowe on the cover, as a sly way of both excluding and acknowledging Sheen. (The article is a nostalgia piece about growing up with him and Sean Penn, another smoking villain). This have-my-cake-and-eat-it-too attitude is rampant among journalists, anxious to steal some of Sheen's shine, while maintaining a cold, aghast distance.
But Sheen is oblivious. He is, absolutely, the New Celebrity, going far beyond the typical star party line about loving fans by lassoing millions of them on Twitter and speaking intimately with them; by showing up in our cities to speak honestly and answer our questions.
That our questions appear to be - "Hey LIGHT A SMOKE CHARLIE!" - is our problem.
Sheen did have some good news: He broadly suggested he is in serious talks to resume working on his show; he is sober, and so much brighter, even gentler than he has been given a single note of credit for.
Better, his entertaining-if-hypomanic stream of consciousness rants are over. Last night he confessed he loved words, how they sound and function: He was every inch like the artist on Inside the Actor's Studio (he appeared, my Mom tells me, a few years ago and was "so eloquent!"), teleported to the city's biggest drunk tank.
At one point, the mob booed a lull in the conversation.
What a mess. I could not stop booing and hissing at them. The crowd bombed!
And Charlie Sheen, with his plainly beautiful "goddesses" in tow, with his blushing solemnity and grace? For the very last time: #WINNING!
Wendy Newman did appear. She sat with a solicitous Sheen who quietly recounted how moved he was to hear her story; how that when one "lives in a box," one misses so much.
And as she told her poignant, sweet tale, a row of men laughed and laughed.
"Snort his ashes!" another mutant screamed.
Sheen hugged the pretty widow and made a quick, cat-footed exit.
I hope he forgives us, and I wish to extend my gratitude to him for what he did share of his drug, the drug he claims, famously, always to be on - that is, of course, Charlie Sheen.
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