Mike Myers’ Directorial Debut: Supermensch – The Legend of Shep Gordon

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You’re likely not a show biz insider if you’re wondering “Who was (or is) Shep Gordon?” He’s the quintessential Hollywood manager, and the subject of Canadian funnyman Mike Myers’ directorial debut, Supermensch – The Legend of Shep Gordon. The homage/doc delivers on behind-the-scenes gossip and insights, but goes beyond the normal showbiz biography, offering deeper reflection on the big questions of life.
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon poster; Shep Gordon & cat at home in Maui
Gordon, who now lives in Maui, flew in from Berlin this past March, to present the film—featured in MIFF 31’s Knight Documentary Competition program—to a multi-generational audience at Regal South Beach. During the Q&A Gordon spoke profoundly about the intrinsic dangers of fame and how today’s society tends to focus far too heavily on achieving fame rather than focusing on the actual craft itself. 

Shep was a Long Island kid who went to the University of Buffalo and ended up in Los Angeles where he met Janis Joplin who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix, who suggested Gordon be a manager (after learning he was Jewish). Gordon took the advice, seeing that access to musicians was also access to sex with the women who followed them. One of his early clients, who became a life-long friend, was Alice Cooper. Gordon saw that the unknown Cooper could make a name for himself by marketing notoriety. If the cops closed down a show, the place would be packed the next night. It worked for decades. 

Six Degrees of Sheparation; Shep Gordon at Regal South Beach during MIFF 31
Beyond friendship, Gordon was an asset for his clients: “Get the money” was his mantra. He recognized that black entertainers weren’t being paid by promoters, and took an interest in Teddy Pendergrass. Recognizing Pendergrass’s appeal was sex, Gordon organized shows for women only, which turned out to be a shrewd maneuver. Everybody went wild. In the film, Myers delves deep into Gordon’s fast-lane and personal life, showing how he also launched the careers of Emeril Lagasse, Raquel Welch, Sylvester Stallone, Kirk Douglas, the story behind how he masterminded the concept of celebrity chefs, and the list goes on.

Young people should just make stuff, and not worry about the result.  “Fame is the industrial disease of creativity,” warns Gordon. “There’s nothing about fame that I’ve ever seen that’s healthy,” Gordon goes on to say, “The ones who rose to the top got hurt the worst.” Myers reveals a man who has embraced his dualities: a hard-driving dealmaker who wants everyone to be happy, and a rock ‘n’ roll hedonist who yearns for a family.  Against the backdrop of debauchery, he’s a man on a spiritual quest.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon makes its Miami commercial debut at O Cinema Miami Shores and Regal South Beach Stadium 18 on Friday, June 20th.  —Tatyana Chiocchetti

Jaie Laplante

Jaie Laplante is the Miami Film Festival's executive director and director of programming. Learn more about Jaie on Programmers.