Penthouse Retrospective

by Allan Sonnenschein Originally Published: January, 1993

Charlie Sheen

You'd think that guys who get all the breaks might be satisfied. Take Charlie Sheen. Handsome, talented, a bachelor, bucks in the bank, and a movie star. What more could he want? An Oscar? An Emmy? A juicy role in his pal Oliver Stone's next movie?

Charlie’s Angels

Charlie Sheen for PenthouseCharlie shakes his head. Well, there’s certainly not a dearth of beautiful women in his life. Hell, I was with him when he turned down a date with a former Miss Universe because he wanted to spend the evening with his eight-year-old, Cassandra. So what does he want? “If I could have one mention· in The Baseball Encyclopedia,” he muses, “I’d die happy. One at bat in the big leagues would put me there, and I’ll take it over an Oscar any time.”

I met Charlie Sheen on a muggy, July morning at the Sherman Oaks home of Jeff Ballard. Jeff is Charlie’s public relations agent and his close buddy.

Sheen, who has the kind of face and smile that are going to keep him looking like 18 when he’s 80, greeted me with a firm handshake and an apology for being a few minutes late. Charlie was feeling good. His new movie, Fixing the Shadow – in which he plays true-life hero Dan Black, a cop who goes undercover to break up a drug-dealing motorcycle gang-has been completed and is scheduled to be released in February. He was happy to have some free time before shooting began on his next movie, Hot Shots 2, but more important, his beloved Cincinnati Reds had won five games in a row.

Charlie Sheen has an inexhaustible passion for baseball, and if you don’t know the game and its history, speak its language, and respect its rules of simplicity and symmetry, you’re missing a great deal about the man. It may be one explanation for why so much that has been written about the 27-year-old film star seems to be out in left field. Sheen’s treatment by the media has been little more than a Xeroxed list — ”bratpack,” “druggie,” and “porno star’s boyfriend” — of tabloid buzzwords and hyperbole.

“It’s funny,” Charlie says. “As much as they wanted to compliment me for my work, they’ve always tried to find something in my personal life to put some negativity on it. It’s like they want to keep some kind of balance. ’He does this good, but let’s not forget about those antics and shenanigans.’ I didn’t know there was a fucking rule book you had to adhere to when I became an actor. I thought it was a free country — with the exception of killing people or selling drugs or weapons, you could do your own thing.” Sheen made it clear that he has received some decent treatment by the media, but that he has been abused by the su­permarket tabloids, “cat-box liner,” and television shows like “Entertainment Tonight.”

“I can give you dozens of examples,” Charlie shook his head in frustration. ’There’s this one tabloid reporter I know. She gets some germ of a rumor and expounds on it. She just goes nuts. I finally called and asked what her problem was. She said, ’Well, honey, we’re trying to create this bad-boy image for you, and it sells issues.’ I tried to reason with her by asking how she would feel if she was the target of those stories. Basically, she told me that the newspaper was trying to perpetuate a James Dean image for me. I lost it and said, ’Lady, James Dean died at 24, and that’s not the image I want.’ It made no difference. They’re hopeless.”

Not too long ago, the stereotyped bad-boy image had gotten so bad that Charlie decided enough was enough: “I figured, what the hell,” he recalled with a boyish grin, “it can’t get any worse. I decided to hire an actress or an extra from one of the studios. I’d have her at the Santa Monica Pier where she would have an accident and fall in the ocean. When she panicked and screamed, I – who just happened to be wandering by – would jump in and save her. In the next day’s newspapers I’d be a hero. I never did it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Nothing else was working to improve my image.”

Is Charlie Sheen the victim of tabloid sensationalism? Or is he just a sensation? Charlie speaks frankly about troubles that have plagued him in the past and opens up about some topics most wouldn't associate with him.

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