Comedian Mike Myers found the perfect vehicle to make his directorial debut: “Supermensch The Legend of Shep Gordon.”
The title makes it sound like another Myers comedy, a Jewish “Wayne’s World” or “Austin Powers.” In fact, it is an extremely well-executed documentary about one of the most captivating figures in the history of rock and roll.
Shep Gordon is not someone you’ve likely heard of. He managed Alice Cooper, Teddy Pendergrass, and Pink Floyd (inexplicably for just nine days), among others. He created the celebrity chef category. And he lived a remarkable life — something between a frat boy’s fantasy and a rabbi’s delight.
Even better, from Myers’s point of view, Gordon is a brilliant raconteur with a vivid memory that apparently survived the prestigious amount of drugs he consumed. Part of Myers’s success here is simply based on his ability to point a camera and press record.
Gordon grew up in a Jewish family in Oceanside, New York, and accidentally found a career in show business after he was slugged in the face by Janis Joplin. A word of explanation:
It took Mike Myers 10 years of begging for Shep Gordon to agree to a documentary about his life. The film, “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” is Myers’s first go at directing, and he made a masterpiece.
Gordon was the one who masterminded Alice Cooper’s image with stunts like throwing a live chicken on stage, putting underwear on the album “School’s Out,” and plastering a picture of Cooper naked — save for a snake covering his manhood — on the side of a truck whose driver was paid to “break down” during rush hour in London.
Gordon also invented the concept of the celebrity chef, managed Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross and Raquel Welch, and handled Groucho Marx during his senior years, pro bono.
But all of these accomplishments don’t describe the sweet essence of the man — the mensch — that Myers captures in his movie.
Gordon came to the rescue of a grandmother who had no idea how she’d be able to raise her suddenly deceased daughter’s four children. Gordon said, “It seemed like something had to be done, and I had the resources.” He supported them and they became his makeshift family.
Dorri Olds caught up with Shep Gordon to talk about Jewish spirituality, living at the same hotel as Janis Joplin, why he always likes to be a plus-one.
Dorri Olds: You have led such an eclectic life.