You may only know Shep Gordon as Alice Cooper’s manager and
the executive producer of his TV movies, but after "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon" you’ll most
likely remember him as the guy who got punched by Janice Joplin, shared a cat
with Cary Grant, brewed tea for the Dalai Lama, and partied alongside the
rockstars. Mike Myers, who met Gordon on the set of “Wayne’s World” (that
episode with Alice Cooper and the “We’re not worthy”s) makes his directional
debut with the documentary tale of this man. A "mensch" is briefly defined in
the film as an admirable and goodly person, and as Gordon himself defines it
while describing his own father, a person "of deep generosity." After the
film’s final screening at Tribeca Film Festival, Michael Douglas (a close
friend of Gordon who met him at a party) asked Gordon a few questions about his
fascinating story, and a couple neat stories, both from the film and not, came
Shep was responsible for the infamous incident of Alice Cooper and the chicken. “I knew if parents hated him, they’d love him.” Gordon’s first and last client was Alice Cooper, and the two still share a remarkable kind of friendship (“He’s a protector - that’s what he does” said Cooper in the film). After Gordon spontaneously became Cooper’s manager, thanks to an introduction from Jimi Hendrix, it became clear that Cooper’s popularity needed an initial boost. During one of Cooper’s first really big shows, Gordon let a chicken up onto the stage. In the film, Cooper said he threw the chicken into the crowd, thinking at first “it’ll fly, it’s got wings.” But the crowd threw it right back to him, and it was ripped to pieces. The net day, Cooper and the headless chicken were all over the papers, and his career began to soar.
Shep kickstarted the rise of the celebrity chef. After he ushered stars like Teddy Pendergrass, Luther Vandross, and Anne Murray to stardom, he turned his attention to chefs, some of whom were his personal friends and even idols. It wasn’t for business so much as it was his personal interest that he aimed to elevate their status to stardom. Emeril Lagasse was among the first clients he promoted via the Food Nework. Over 20 chefs later, cooking shows were on the rise and the chefs reached stardom at long last.
Shep’s house is where celebs went to party and relax. During the later part of Gordon’s career, his house in Hawaii became a refuge of sorts to his friends, famous and not (Mike Myers among them) who gratefully took advantage of his “open-door” policy. But it was as much a party hotspot as a peaceful resort. He recounted to the audience about the time Jack Nicholson stopped in. After a night full of celebrities having pure fun (Gordon didn’t allow business to be done at his parties), Gordon went to bed. He came back down at three in the morning to find no one but Jack Nicholson sitting there (“having an incredible high, a rare occurrence, I’m sure, for him”). Gordon announced, “Well, I guess the party’s over,” to which Nicholson replied, “Which one of us has to leave?”
So after all this, what’s Gordon doing now? When an audience member asked, he answered “A lot of Q&A’s! And cooking."
The film opens in select theaters June 6th.