IT'S HARDLY the biggest booking in Atlantic City history - after all, Madonna, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Rudy Vallee, Al Jolson and John Philip Sousa have all made the Boardwalk scene. But tomorrow night's appearance by one-man sideshow Charlie Sheen at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort certainly is AyCee's biggest pop-culture event of the still-young year.
As you might have heard, the former "Two and a Half Men" star and Olympic-grade partyer has been out on the road with his "Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option" tour. In terms of star power, this is a supernova. Sheen, whose public battles with CBS-TV and "Men" producer Chuck Lorre, nonstop celebrating of his ménage-a-trois lifestyle with his two "goddesses," and reported capacity for ingesting substances legal and otherwise that make Rolling Stone Keith Richards look like a Jehovah's Witness, has pretty much become his own 24-hour news cycle. Every information outlet from the blogosphere to this newspaper has kept the world apprised of his every move.
(In fact, the Hollywood Reporter posted a letter yesterday from attorneys for Warner Bros., which produces "Men," to Sheen's attorney, saying that contrary to Sheen's recent comments, "there have been no discussions, there are no discussions, and there will be no discussions, regarding his returning to or having any involvement in the series.")
That Sheen's Taj date will go on as planned might be surprising to some of the more cynical observers along the Great Wood Way. When details of his first appearance (not sure the word "performance" applies) in Detroit were reported - heckling and walkouts were the order of the day - some insisted the wheels would fall off the tour way before he made it to the Taj. But the self-styled "Vatican Assassin Warlock" (whatever that means) hasn't been derailed.
Ticket sales for tomorrow's spectacle are "not off the charts but haven't stalled, either. They're slow and steady," said Steve Gietka, vice president of entertainment for Trump Entertainment Resorts.
While standard ticket prices for Sheen's gig are not out of line for Atlantic City, there is a "meet-and-greet" package for $748 that includes, according to ticketmaster.com: a seat in the first 10 rows of the stage; exclusive meet-and-greet/photo-op with Sheen; autographed 8-by-10-inch photo; collectible tour poster (limited edition, numbered); and an official meet-and-greet laminate.
According to a source familiar with ticket sales, upward of three dozen of these premiums had been purchased as of Tuesday.
As for what the Taj audience can expect tomorrow, it's hard to say. Sheen's notices so far have been downright schizophrenic. Reviewing the first of his three Radio City Music Hall programs last Friday, the New York Post's Andrea Peyser wrote that he "stank up [the hall] like a flatulent goddess." And many media outlets noted (often with great glee) the crowd's hostile reaction.
But various online articles indicated the following show, in Oakdale, Conn., as well as the next night back at Radio City were triumphant, with Sheen garnering standing ovations at both.
Given his outrageous behavior, it would be understandable to assume his contract rider is loaded with over-the-top demands. But that is not the case, according to Gietka.
"I was anticipating some extravagances," he said, "but, in fact, there are none."
Trump Taj Mahal, Boardwalk at Virginia Avenue, 8 p.m. tomorrow (Arena), $748 (meet-and-greet package), $109.50, $89.50 and $69.50, ticketmaster.com, 800-736-1420.
'iCandy' at Bally's
It wouldn't be surprising if Sheen winds up at Blue Martini inside Bally's Atlantic City after he does his thing at the Taj. As one with a keen (if sometimes bloodshot) eye for the ladies, he'll no doubt be interested to know that the casino-side lounge last night debuted "iCandy Burlesque."
According to a Bally's news release, "iCandy Burlesque," presented for free in three 20-minute segments Thursday through Saturday roughly between 9:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. (although the evening begins at 8 p.m.), is a "sassy, sexy, modern-day version of the famous and sensual 1930s era of burlesque."
In case you don't speak showbiz, "burlesque" is French for hot babes parading in sexy, barely there costumes. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)
In this case, it will be a cast of eight young women led (on an alternating, every-two-weeks basis) by former "Baywatch" cast member and model Angelica Bridges and former "American Idol" contestant Shaina Churchfield. Aerial artists and other performers also are in this show that seems aimed squarely at the same audience that's made the "Almost Angels" revue at Ego Lounge inside the Taj Mahal so successful.
"iCandy Burlesque" is scheduled to run through May 27, but an extension wouldn't be surprising if attendance merits it.
Al fresco tunes
Tonight SugarHouse Casino introduces "Swingin' on the River," a series of Friday night musicales staged on the gaming hall's patio overlooking the Delaware River.
Longtime Philly Phavorite Eddie Bruce will inaugurate the series and return April 29. On April 22 and May 6, the featured attraction will be Marc Antonelli, the twentysomething tenor who recently enjoyed two extended runs at the 2,000-seat showroom at Tropicana Casino and Resort.
The performances are free (although we're sure 'House execs would appreciate your purchase of a beverage or two).
Chuck Darrow has been covering Atlantic City and casinos for more than 20 years. Read
Saturdays at 1:45 a.m. with Steve Trevelise on WIP (610-AM) and 3:05 p.m.
on Atlantic City's WOND (1400-AM) with Marc Berman.