DETROIT — Charlie Sheen and his “goddesses” took the stage to thunderous applause Saturday night for the first leg of his Torpedo of Truth tour. The 70-minute show hadn’t even ended when the first reviews were in, and they were brutal.
The former Two and a Half Men star showed that comedic success on the screen doesn’t necessarily translate to the stage, and the capacity crowd at Detroit’s 5,100-seat Fox Theatre rebelled before the show ended, chanting “refund!” and walking out in droves.
Linda Fugate, 47, of the Detroit suburb of Lincoln Park, left the theatre and walked up the street yelling, “I want my money back!”
She said she paid $150 for two seats.
“I was hoping for something. I didn’t think it would be this bad.”
Sheen’s publicist Larry Solters declined to comment after the show, but Sheen reappeared after the house lights went up to thank those who remained.
Fans who arrived at the theatre — some who had to fly in for the show — said they were hoping to see the increasingly eccentric actor deliver some of the colorful rants that have made him an Internet star since his ugly falling out with CBS and the producers of Two and a Half Men.
They got the ranting. It just wasn’t funny.
“I expected him to at least entertain a little bit. It was just a bunch of ranting,” said Rodney Gagnon, 34, of Windsor, Ontario.
On Twitter, where Sheen has amassed some 3.4 million followers, some fans were already predicting a premature end for the planned 20-city tour, which was scheduled to resume Sunday in Chicago.
“Charlie Sheen thanks for saying goodbye! Piece of advice cancel the rest of your tour,” someone tweeted under the name ChrstosMo.
The show started well for the 45-year-old Sheen, with the audience standing and cheering as he and the women he calls his “goddesses” took the stage. The women, a former porn star and an actress who live with him, carried placards with the words “War” and “Lock,” a reference to Sheen’s recent description of himself as a warlock.
“I don’t see a single empty seat,” he said.
Not long into the show, though, an audience member booed, prompting Sheen to sanguinely reply, “I’ve already got your money, dude.”
Things only got worse.
Among the low points was when Sheen screened a short film he wrote, directed and produced years ago called RPG. He sat in the front row to watch the film, which starred a much younger Johnny Depp. Boos were heard throughout.
“Tonight’s an experiment,” he said.
Sheen had said rapper Snoop Dogg would perform at the show, but he didn’t. Instead, the show ended with a video for a new Snoop Dogg song. By then, many fans had left.
Toronto-area resident Ronnie Prentice, 37, was one of several fans who arrived at the theatre before it opened Saturday saying they hoped to see Sheen rant.
“It’s kind of like a NASCAR race. You’re just tuning in because you’re just waiting for the accident to happen,” said Prentice.
Geoff Rezek, 69, a computer consultant from Darien, Conn., flew in from New York to see what he believed was going to be “history in the making.”
“I wouldn’t miss the first show. Who knows if there’s going to be a second show?” Rezek said, perhaps prophetically.
He also bought a ticket for Sheen’s show next week in Connecticut.
Sheen has made headlines in recent years as much for his drug use, failed marriages, custody disputes and run-ins with the police, as for his acting. His father, actor Martin Sheen, has compared his son’s struggle with addiction to a cancer patient’s struggle for survival.
In August, the wayward star pleaded guilty in Aspen, Colo., to misdemeanour third-degree assault after a Christmas Day altercation with his third wife, Brooke Mueller. The couple recently finalized their divorce.
Charlie Sheen’s behaviour, which included lashing out at Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre, finally became too much for Warner Bros. Television, which fired him on March 7.
Sheen fired back with a $100 million lawsuit and all-out media assault in which he informed the world about his standing as a “rock star from Mars” and a “warlock” with “Adonis DNA.”
It was not immediately clear how Saturday’s poor performance would affect the rest of the tour, which is scheduled to wrap up May 3 in Seattle.
Bob Orlowski, a 46-year-old lawyer from Plymouth who has a suite at the theatre, said there is “no way” the tour will make it all the way to the end. He said he brought six clients to Saturday’s performance, thinking it would be an event, but instead witnessed a “train wreck.”
One of his clients said Sheen’s performance replaced a Milli Vanilli concert as the worst show he’d ever seen.
“Now he feels good about Milli Vanilli,” Orlowski said.
Some among the crowd, though, defended the performance with the type of defiance that would have made the actor proud.
“I love my city, but I’m just disgusted with what happened tonight,” said Sarah Cappuccitti, 31, a hair stylist from Westland.
“People needed to the shut the heck up.”