I dazedly chose or hired the companionship of unsavory and insipid types. Regardless of their saltless reputations, I always led with condoms and honesty when it came to my condition. – Charlie Sheen
By now you’ve probably all heard that Charlie Sheen is HIV positive, and that in his Today show appearance he basically blamed it on sex workers. He also claims to have “led with condoms” and denies any IV drug use. Now, I’ve never seen Mr. Sheen professionally, but as it turns out I know someone who did in ’07. This is her story, exactly as she told it to me yesterday; I have not changed a single word except to correct a few minor typos. As you will see, it disagrees with two points of his denial of risky behavior; I have heard rumors of another, even riskier behavior, but unless someone is willing to write a firsthand account of that one I am not at liberty to mention it. Normally, accounts like this one are outside my ethical bounds, but I’m not going to sit idly by while my sisters are blamed for something that they had nothing to do with.
“He’s a major player. Don’t screw this up.”
That was the injunction issued to me by the booker of my agency in Los Angeles. Curiosity piqued, I touched up my lipstick and ran down the stairs to get in my driver’s car. The first words out of his mouth were, “Don’t you have anything more…revealing?”
Exasperated, I replied, “I can’t even sit down in this dress without starting a riot. What do you want me to wear, a Band Aid?” My driver informed me that this particular client was a known connoisseur of adult performers, and my chic little black dress was a bit too conservative for his liking. I asked why he called our agency in the first place; we were a well respected escort service with a strict “no adult performers” policy.
“He’s used us before. He’s got money to burn and he’ll take good care of you. Just don’t be…yourself.” My driver soared up the Sherman Oaks side of the Hollywood Hills. We turned into the Mulholland Estates and the guard cheerfully waved us through the gate. I groaned, since I never had much luck in this neighborhood. Something always seemed to go wrong. A couple of muscular gentleman came to the car and told my driver he couldn’t stay. My driver clearly expected this, patted me on the head and told me to go make money.
Heart sinking, I walked to the garage with the security guards. They checked my purse for a weapon. After I passed that, one of them asked me if I knew who I was going to be seeing. I replied that this wasn’t my first high profile client and certainly wouldn’t be my last. He looked at me and started laughing. I batted my lashes and laughed back. “Oh, he’ll like you. I’ll walk you up.” We started the long trek uphill to the house. The door opened and I heard a man yelling on the phone. The security guards told me to have fun, and walked out of the foyer. I heard a thud, as if something was thrown at the wall, and my client descended down the staircase…and his smile dissolved into one big question mark.
“Hi, I’m Charlie. Nice to meet you.” He stepped back and said “I expected you to be a little more…endowed?”
“My agency has a model quality guarantee. If you don’t like me, the cancellation fee is $150, and I’ll go. No hard feelings.”
I put my hands on my hips and turned to leave. “No wait. Please don’t go. I just didn’t expect someone so…conservative. You’re really pretty, I just like porn girls better.” I asked him if he was sure. He gave me a bear hug and said “Of course I’m sure, gorgeous. Let’s go upstairs.”
We walked upstairs into a small bedroom. I could tell by the smell someone had been smoking some form of narcotic. Porn was playing on one television,baseball on another. The smell was getting to me. He watched my nose twitch. “It’s crack, and I only do a few hits a night. I try to be a good boy when I’m working.” He asked me if I partied. I replied that it depended on what it was. He flashed his trademark grin and told me he had literally anything I desired. I politely asked if we could take care of business first. He turned and unlocked a drawer that had an astonishing amount of cash in it. The amount he gave me was basically enough to ensure I would be staying a while. He bragged that two well known adult stars had seen him last night. I knew one of them, and I asked why he hadn’t called them back tonight. “Cause I pay them to disappear, sweetheart. Now come over here and sit on my face.”
Things took a turn for the awkward a few minutes later when he requested bareback. I explained as delicately as I could that my agency didn’t allow that, and I personally preferred to use condoms as well. He took the news in stride, but it was clear the condoms were interfering with things. We proceeded to engage in other forms of contact. After he finished, it was clear he didn’t hold it against me. I cleaned him up, cleaned myself up, and I asked him what his call time was. “Early!” he laughed.
I asked him if he wanted me to leave, and he gripped my hand and said he really wanted me to stick around longer. I said that was just fine, and asked if I could party with him. He located my drug of choice on the table and asked if I smoked it,snorted it or shot it. I asked for a line. He said most girls he knew smoked it or shot it, and that his nose was so messed up that he had to smoke most of what he did. He also told me he had overdosed when he had mainlined years ago, so he only had needles around if someone he called over liked doing something that way. I asked him if he was scared of someone ODing in his bathroom. He said he had enough money to hush people up if they did.
His cellphone rang. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I’ll be right back after I take this call.” He went into the other room and I heard him in an argument with a very pissed off woman. He returned and it was clear he was agitated. “That woman is going to be the death of me.” I looked at him quizzically. “My girlfriend. She’s jealous of EVERYTHING. Even my kids.” I told him I was sorry about the drama. “This is why I like porn chicks. They don’t give a shit and they don’t wanna marry you. It’s just awesome sex and they’re off.”
By now, it was 2 AM. We dropped some Ecstasy, and he just wanted to hug me. And he would not shut up….it was irritating and endearing at the same time. He spoke of his love for women, and how he needed women as much as he needed alcohol, but his 12 step program at least helped him control the alcohol. That, and something called gabapentin. He droned on about how “nice girls” were just glorified whores, so dealing with actual whores was a pleasure by comparison. “The world is better off with girls like you. You’re an honest fuck. And you have a pretty pussy. Get out of this business while you can.”
I’m not sure if he knew what all he was saying. He was rich and famous and he had the luxury of not making sense. Behind the bravado, I saw a man who seemed genuinely terrified of being alone, yet also terrified of leaving his house. Although it was clear he was a volatile individual, he wasn’t necessarily the monster he has been made out to be. He complied with the rules of my agency, and we had a nice time. I do think at the time he considered himself indestructible. As I was leaving, he asked me if I knew any girls I could send him. He said all he needed was titties and a hole. I half jokingly told him I wasn’t doing my agency’s job for him. That made him laugh. “You are a very smart girl. Don’t ever change.”
I watched his descent into madness a couple years later, and it saddened me; that wasn’t the man I had seen in 2007. I do think the shock of his diagnosis sent him into a free fall. The first stage of grief is denial and I think he genuinely wanted to believe he was fine, and the people he kept company with would be fine as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think he had any idea of what potentially exposing the women in adult industries to HIV could mean for their careers. The current stigma against people in the sex industries means that if they contract HIV, they can’t do their jobs. And if they get caught by police while doing their jobs, they could be arrested under California’s draconian criminal transmission laws. A felony charge makes it really hard for a former sex worker or adult performer to find a straight job with insurance benefits. I think it behooves Mr. Sheen to pay for the testing of the sex workers he saw from 2011 to 2014 and if they do test positive, to set up a trust contributing for their medications.
Which brings us to the million dollar question: did Charlie Sheen maliciously expose dozens of sex workers to HIV? I honestly don’t think so. I doubt that he knew that the lambskin condoms he preferred can’t prevent HIV transmission. I also think the antiviral medications he is taking have lowered the virus to an almost undetectable level. As far as informing people of his status…I wouldn’t want to be a straight celeb saying they’re HIV positive for all the money in the world. People will sell anything to a tabloid. Although his allegedly not informing partners that he is HIV positive is wrong, if nobody so far has come up with HIV, how is this the public’s business? Selling pictures of his medication to the highest bidder was wrong. And if the person who did so had previously signed a nondisclosure agreement, it’s just as illegal as deliberately exposing someone to HIV.
As for the infamous open letter and the Today show interview…I don’t think writing it was his idea. His PR team is shitting bricks right now and knows this is the only real defense he will have if he is named as a defendant in any potential lawsuit in the future. He also has his children to think about. He could afford to be honest and testify for Heidi Fleiss in 1996, because he wasn’t in the middle of two separate child custody cases. Right now, he and his team are in damage control mode, so the spin doctors have to take advantage of the stigma against sex workers. Otherwise their client would be forced to take responsibility for his own actions, which in Hollywood carries even more stigma than sex work does.