Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon review

"Party time . . . Excellent": Who'd have guessed? In Mike Meyers' documentary, one of the great masters of rock'n'roll PR comes up smelling of roses

Can you dig it: Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper chillaxin’ back in the day


Director: Mike Myers

Starring: Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Michael Douglas, Willie Nelson

Genre: Documentary

Running Time: 85 min

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 00:37


Shep Gordon came to California with a sociology degree and a whole mess of savvy. Having checked into Hollywood’s Landmark Hotel, he was awakened in the night by a poolside ruckus, which he took to be a sexual assault. He charged in to save the day, only to earn a punch in the face from the lady, who turned out to be Janis Joplin.

Luckily, Joplin’s partner, one Jimi Hendrix, saw the funny side and sagely ventured: “Are you Jewish? You should be a manager.”

Thus, a failed probation officer embarked on a path into showbusiness, a journey that would cast Shep Gordon, at different moments, as Alice Cooper’s manager, Groucho Marx’s A&R man, Blondie’s agent, and the film producer of Kiss of a Spider Woman and The Duellists. At its best, Supermensch, which chronicles the life and times of this PR whizz, resembles a Real World Spinal Tap.

Gordon’s early years are characterised by hilarious promotional shenanigans. His attempts to drum up publicity for Alice Cooper might be prefaced with Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before. When he dresses Cooper in a transparent plastic outfit, it mists up in the heat and inconveniently preserves modesty after Gordon himself has called the cops. “We literally couldn’t get arrested,” grins the talent manager. Boom boom!

Gordon’s own recollections are padded out with glowing celebrity testimonials. Inevitably, his later Buddhist years and his friendship with the Dalai Lama don’t yield the kind of rocking anecdotes that his work in the 1970s once did.

Near the end of this largely hagiographic portrait, actor-turned-documentarian Mike Myers tells us that “Shep Gordon is the nicest person I’ve ever met, hands down”. We had gleaned as much.

One might fault Myers’s avoidance of awkward questions. There are only brief allusions to his short marriage to a Playboy Bunny, his long relationship with Sharon Stone, and his tour shirt that used to read: “No Head No Backstage Pass”. Myers similarly never quizzes Gordon about his concept of karmic coupons, an idea that sounds awfully like something the Corleone family might say.

Still, with billions of dollars of box-office revenue to his credit, the creator of Wayne’s World and Austin Powers had no need to get into the documentary business. We shouldn’t be surprised that this is a love letter to a chum. Nor should we be surprised that one of the great masters of PR emerges smelling of roses.

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