Charlie Sheen’s Newest Role: Condom Pitchman


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Charlie Sheen on the “Today” show last November, when he confirmed that he is H.I.V.-positive.

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Peter Kramer/NBC

Standing near an ice sculpture of a phallus encased in a condom, Charlie Sheen took the stage at an event on Monday evening in Manhattan to help introduce a prophylactic called HEX from a Swedish luxury sex-toy brand.

He emerged through a glass door in the corner of the room, shortly after a video of him, speaking frankly about his diagnosis of H.I.V., played on a television in the center of the room.

As the real thing suddenly popped into the room, dressed in a charcoal suit and seeming smaller and far more upbeat than the man who last made public rounds in November, when he announced to the world that he was H.I.V.-positive, the crowd gasped.

It was a surprise appearance at the Midtown party for HEX, a latex condom with a resilient honeycomblike structure developed by the brand LELO. Before Mr. Sheen’s appearance, the event had consisted of photo booths and party games like pricking a pin through condoms stretched across LELO vibrators.

Mr. Sheen acknowledged the reaction, asking the crowd: What business does a man who has five children and H.I.V. have hawking a contraceptive? Well, he continued, one of those things he wished he never had.

The emergence of Mr. Sheen as a hybrid spokesman-activist at the party, where dancers in hexagon-pattered leotards performed erotic dance routines, signified a new act for the troubled actor.

Since confirming his H.I.V. status on the “Today” show, Mr. Sheen has not just begun to engage in H.I.V./AIDS activism, he has also started to participate in a clinical trial of a new anti-H.I.V. drug and become its de facto spokesman.

Steve Thomson, LELO’s chief marketing officer, said in an email that Mr. Sheen was “the perfect choice for LELO, a tragic reflection of the current situation in sexual health of today, but more importantly, a symbol of change with the strength and the courage to confront key issues head on.”

After Mr. Sheen’s announcement, internet searches about the disease spiked, Mr. Thomson said. “At this point,” Mr. Thomson said, “he realized that there is potential to do more on the issue, much more than to tend to his personal interests.”

The condoms are available online for $20 for a pack of 12. Mr. Sheen will travel to several cities across the globe for the company in the coming days to promote the product.

The structure of the condom, the company says, reduces breakage and slipping, and, equally important — looks cool, according to Filip Sedic, LELO’s founder, who spoke at the event. Mr. Sedic’s hope, he said, is that those three factors, and Mr. Sheen’s role as spokesman, will persuade people to not just buy his product, but to use condoms as a matter of safety.

On a video on LELO’s website, Mr. Sheen sits alone in a warehouse speaking of the product and his condition. It is filled with lingering, uncomfortable pauses.

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