A mermaid in a clamshell top perched at the edge of the swimming pool some ten stories below the hotel room, resting her shoulders on its tiled rim and allowing her long tail to trail away in front of her, the pool's underwater lights shining onto it and casting an odd shadow on the blue concrete at its bottom.
Another girl in a tiara stood poolside in a dress with a long train. She climbed into a table with with a hole in the center. The long train became a tablecloth and the girl stood patiently as other young women in form-fitting white dresses arranged champagne flutes and wine glasses around her hips. My friend Alex opened the little map of the resort we'd been given consulted the key to find the name of the outdoor club we could see below us.
"Yup, that's ArKadia," he said. "That's Charlie Sheen."
There is an agency/event planning concern in Miami called Zhantra Entertainment that throws enormous parties like this one, for Sheen's new show "Anger Management," with twentysomething women milling around solely to beautify the place in interesting ways. Its founder, a modestly dressed woman with flaming red hair named Bengy Cid, said that most of her talent have a dance background – it takes a certain amount of stamina to stand in one place without moving for two solid hours while people select drinks from around your waist – and that "It's very hard to find the whole package – tall beautiful, polite, friendly…"
She paused as a tall man in a sport coat and slacks begged our pardon and shouldered through the crowd between Cid and the pool carrying a second smiling mermaid, her arms wrapped around his neck, and tossed her gently into the water where her partner had climbed partway out to pose with a long line of smiling (male) station buyers.
Cid, it turns out, is shopping a show of her own at NATPE – a reality series about her offbeat company. It's called – what else? – "It's Not Easy Being Sexy." "It's just an eight-minute sizzle reel, but it looks great!" she said.
About an hour and a half into the party, Sheen finally arrived at the Debmar-Mercury cabanas located across the water from thoe hotel (one of the odd quirks of the Fontainebleau resort, where NATPE is held, is that while the rooms are advertised with "ocean view" and the shops and restaurants seaside themed ad nauseam, it is actually almost impossible to get to the beach). Instantly, a swarm of gawkers, well-wishers, ill-wishers, and press converged on his tent, hemming him in, and for a while it looked like press were going to have to make do with the mermaids. Then, after a few minutes of frantic calls and texts, he agreed to talk.
Sheen doesn't answer questions, exactly, but he is extremely candid, which makes for a better interview. Here's a transcript of my favorite part:
Variety: All this publicity seems a little rough.
Sheen: Yeah, but I don't really care. I don't take it personally. It's just words, you know? Coming from people who don't know anything about me, so how much stock can you put in it, you know? I mean, a stranger's random opinion? It's like getting mad at a three-year-old. Plus, I never read anything anymore, because all that happens is you get upset. And then you hear from a buddy, 'Ooh, great story' so you know what's out there, and I know what I said. I'll do a lot more press once we shoot some shows and really get this thing moving. I'm not gonna talk about it as a real project, now it's kind of amorphous.
Variety: Mostly I just meant that this seems like kind of a punishing circuit of handshaking and interviews. I didn't mean that people are badmouthing the show.
Sheen: Oh, fuck! I'm like a fucking beaten dog over here!
Variety: Bless your heart.
Sheen: No, this is fine. It looks like chaos but everybody is happy to see me, has nothing but kind words to offer. You know, they're pretty great problems. Everybody's very cool about it. People that had the other show and want the new one now have their college educations and mortgages paid off. You never know what you're doing in this little microcosmic fantasy oasis. You never know who it reaches and how it gets to them. It's really a trip. I was in a store the other day – this is a true story, I couldn't believe this one – and this woman says to me, 'Oh, Mr. Sheen, I gotta tell you, my mother died in April,' I said, 'I'm sorry,' she said, 'Nono, it's not about that, she was 97.' She looked at me and she said, 'She was such a fan of the show that she said, "Oh, I hope that Sheen boy gets another job…" and died.' And I said, 'You spent your whole lives together! She should have spoken you as her last words!' And she said, 'Ah, that's just Mom.'" [chuckles] Just when you thought you'd heard everything.
Variety: Do you have "Winning" tattooed on your wrist?
Sheen: I do, yeah.
Variety: That's amazing.
Sheen: Well, I'm getting my watch fixed. My watch usually covers it. But just to have survived that whole odyssey and to have lived in the middle of that whole… that… whatever that thing was… I had to emblazon something.
Sheen says he "wouldn't have been as vocal" if he had the whole Chuck Lorre imbroglio to do over again, but the memory of it clearly still stings. "I was a little out of line," he says. "But I was so mad. They were so wrong. They were so fucking wrong. And I knew I couldn't lose. When you're in a position like that, sitting on four aces and a joker, you gotta keep pushing the pot, you know? I couldn't even get a phone call, you know? You put $400 million in a guy's pocket and he can't even call you to say, 'Hey, dude, you got to go.' I'm not bitter."
And now? "If I saw Chuck now, I'd give him a hug. And I'd say, 'That's for the first seven years. Not the eighth.'"
Ashton Kutcher? A guy with a difficult job, similar to the job Sheen did when he replaced Michael J. Fox on "Spin City." Kutcher's breakup? "Everybody's talking about the curse of "Two and a Half Men" with San Diego and the divorce," Sheen sighs. "No, man – that show was eating marriages from season two. Chuck, John, me twice."
About "Anger Management," Sheen has nothing but praise, although he's reticent to say too much beyond Sheenian hyperbole about how it's the best thing since gravity, except that he likes Bruce Helford and he's enjoying the casting process. "It's a smarter show," he says. "It's a more adult show."