Supermensch – The Legend of Shep Gordon, Blu-ray (2014)

Supermensch – The Legend of Shep Gordon, Blu-ray (2014)

Cast: Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, Luther Vanross, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Emeril Lagasse, Mike Myers
Director: Mike Myers
Studio: RadiusTWC/Anchor Bay BD00674 [10/7/14]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Length: 85 minutes
Rating: *****

This is the first documentary written, produced and directed by comic Mike Myers of the Austin Powers series. Shepp Gordon’s amazing career started when he struggled to be a probation officer in Southern California, but it quickly became clear he didn’t fit into that. He left and checked into the first Hollywood motel he found. It turned out it was a Hollywood Landmark and he soon became friends with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and other rock celebrities. Hendrix suggested he become a manager and so he did.

Gordon’s first big client was Alice Cooper, who was just starting out and not making it. He and Cooper surmised that to be a big attraction Cooper had to do awful and violent things that would greatly upset parents, and would automatically be wildly attractive to the kids. Gordon got see-thru plastic outfits for Cooper and the band and called the police to come arrest them, but when the police arrived the inside of the outfits had steamed up and nothing could be seen, so they didn’t get arrested. He also put a chicken onstage and when Cooper threw it out to the audience, they killed it and threw it back. Thus the press gave him much coverage, claiming he ate off a chicken head, and he was on his way to big stardom.

The man, almost accidently, became connected with many of the important figures in the Hollywood entertainment scene and ended up managing many of them. He retained a life-long connection with Alice Cooper, even though he really didn’t like that sort of music and preferred folk and pop, and had many thinking he was crazy for taking on very straight singer Anne Murray, but he made her career as well. He would sometime get a celebrity to agree to have him manage them if he was still standing after several days of drugs and debauchery, and he always won.

Later Gordon inserted himself into the celebrity chef scene and was horrified to find that even these leading chefs were not allowed to dine with their celebrity fans and didn’t get paid for most of what they did publicly. He corrected that and set many of them up with popular TV shows. French chef Roger Verge shows him how to cook and is later managed by him. He even becomes a personal cook especially for the Dali Lama. He enjoys his wish to have a family when he gets back in touch with a black girlfriend who has several children, but then she dies and he buys a house especially for them and spends time with them. The experiences with the great chefs didn’t stop him from a relationship with a much-younger woman who was a maven of raw food and he even set up a TV show for her. Mike Douglas’ comments about Gordon are some of the best in the film.

The bit with Teddy Pendergrass, who Gordon was managing, was especially moving. When Pendergrass blithely decided to skip a scheduled engagement shortly before the curtain, Gordon – affected by his closeness to the Dali Lama – told him that eventually he would find karma got him. Later Penergrass was paralyzed as a result of an auto accident, and Gordon set up a performance by him in a wheelchair at a large charity concert.

Mike Myers’ labor of love in putting together this documentary was clearly worth it and I can’t imagine anyone not having a ball with it. He captures all the craziness, haphazardness, and glitz of the time and place. It also has a quite positive outlook about everything in the end, in spite of Gordon’s bumpy journey thru the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Probably you had never heard of this guy before, but you’ll surely remember him now.

—John Sunier

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