Sylvester Stallone wanted to make a version of “Citizen Kane” about rags-to-riches rock impresario Shep Gordon called “Citizen Insane,” but never got around to it. Mike Myers, however, did and has made a documentary about the flamboyant Gordon, a man who dated Sharon Stone, discovered Alice Cooper, hung out with Mick Jagger and partied at the house Napoleon built for Josephine.
For someone who says, “There’s nothing about fame that’s healthy… it has no intrinsic value,” Shep Gordon sure has made a lot of people very famous.
He discovered Alice Cooper when he and his band were starving on Sunset Boulevard, and set them on a path that lead to superstardom. He broke Anne Murray south of the border—“She’s so straight-laced she’s not even Middle America,” he says, “she’s Canadian.”—gave Groucho Marx a late career boost and vaulted Teddy Pendergrass and many others onto the charts.
He’s a character who offers up three bits of advice for anyone thinking of getting in the game. “Always get the money. Never forget the money. Always remember to never forget the money.”
From his 1970s heyday “Supermensch” teaches us that the infant on the cover of Billion Dollar Babies was named Lola, that Charlie Chaplin was her godfather and that Shep wasn’t immune to the lures of rock and roll excess. While he was raking it in with Cooper he had a house with a model train that transported people from the pool to the main house where vials of cocaine were hidden in the kitchen drawers.
That changed when he met chef Roger Vergé, the father of nouvelle cuisine. Unlike his music industry friends, Vergé was well adjusted, respected and happy. It changed Shep’s life, he morphed from a guy content to eat spaghetti and ketchup into a foodie who even married a raw food chef. It also opened up a new avenue of work for him, and with the dawn of the Food Network he helped redefine the term celebrity chef.
Despite all the success, he’s never had a very profitable love life. “Supermensch” examines this as well, in an unvarnished look at his life outside the spotlight. It’s these moments and Gordon’s insights on his relationship with the Dali Lama (that’s right, Shep knows everybody) that lift the film from a hero-worshipping portrait of 1970s excesses to a moving glimpse into the life of a man who seems to be able to make everyone except himself truly happy.