Shep Gordon might be an unknown name to you, but to the likes of Alice Cooper, Blondie, and Emeril Lagasse, he’s a hero. Supermensch: The Legend of Shem Gordon sees Mike Meyers step behind the camera to direct a cathartic documentary all about a guy who started his career in California as a parole officer.
Shep Gordon began his life wanting to “save the world”. After being ran out of his job as a parole officer at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall by a guard-organized inmate attack, Shep packed his bags and unknowingly booked a room at the legendary Hollywood Landmark Hotel, beginning to sell drugs to the many legends housed there at the time. After a chance acid deal to Jimi Hendrix, he decided to become Alice Cooper’s manager to provide himself with a cover for his illicit income. This decision sent him down a path of making Alice Cooper a worldwide rock star. Thanks to a series of calculated moves, he pulled it off. By always making sure to “get the money” and that the band got to their next performance with all their gear, Shep became a highly demanded manager in the music business.
Shep went on to manage multiple other artists, like Anne Murray and Teddy Pendergrass, and turned them into huge stars. At this point, Shep was rich and deep in his addictions. When Teddy played a show and the club owner refused to pay, Shep threatened the owner’s life stating, “I’ve got nothing to lose. I have no kids, no family. I don’t give a shit.” Thus, Shep shaped the rest of his life around himself instead of around those that he was managing. He bought a home in Maui and began to focus on what he truly loved to do. Shep became a cook after a chance dinner catered by Roger Verget where he begged him for his guidance. Winona Williams, an old flame, contacted Shep and informed him of her daughter’s passing. Shep met her other children and instantly took the family under his wing. He financed their upbringing and obtained his dream of being a father figure. Shep also produced movies and managed chefs. Before his management, chefs were treated like trash. After, they were respected celebrities. Having accomplished so much, Shep decided to retire. Retirement couldn’t quite stop Shep, as he became Buddhist, befriended the Dalai Lama, and began to serve on the board of the Tibet Fund.
Supermensch manages to maintain a happy tone even while addressing the consequences of fame. Shep laments the sad deaths of those he met throughout his life and his own personal lack of emotions that made his many romantic relationships turn unhappy. Those interviewed for the movie, such as Tom Arnold and Michael Douglas, hold Shep in the highest regard. Michael refers to him as a “mensch”, or a person of integrity and honor. It begs the question; is fame worth it? While Shep achieved success and admiration, he never had a family or the simple life that he often dreamt about. He found his own happiness in life through cooking and Buddhism at a late age, but is it enough? Maybe we all will have our regrets in life and what matters is our stories. Shep may have his regrets, but he definitely has his wealth of stories.
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