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from PASTE Magazine

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

By Brent Simon

<i>Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon</i>

A documentary about its titular talent manager, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, directed by writer-actor Mike Myers, has the potential to be a slice of yawning, self-congratulatory star-fuckery of the highest order. After all, in addition to its famous director, it has plenty of recognizable celebrities who all line up to sing the praises of its subject. And yet, thanks to whip-smart pacing, this warm-hearted and unfussy nonfiction valentine emerges as an engaging portrait of a life less ordinary—a man who embraced and promulgated selflessness, even while, in his early days, indulging in druggy partying and frequently sporting a T-shirt that read, “No head, no backstage pass.”

Gordon looks like your average Florida retiree but sounds rather like the late Sydney Pollack, erudite and measured, except when his laugh—halfway between a chuckle and a goose’s honk—comes bursting forth. What helps further differentiate him is the fact that wild yarns trail him like a speedboat’s wake. A self-described social liberal who graduated from the University of Buffalo but quickly abandoned his dreams of becoming a probation officer, Gordon tells a story of occupational focusing so random and fanciful that it defies belief: a day after arriving in Los Angeles and taking a room at the Landmark Motor Hotel, he took some LSD, and later responded to the screams of a woman he thought was being sexually assaulted. She beat the crap out of him (turns out she was merely in the throes of ecstasy). The next day the duo apologized to one another, and since Gordon had a lot of marijuana, he shared it. The guy she was with suggested he become a manager. It turns out that woman and man were Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, respectively, and within a week Gordon was managing Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd.

Though the latter relationship would only last nine days (Gordon freely admits he had no idea what he was doing), his relationship with shock-rocker Cooper would endure decades. Gordon was less interested in the music than the manipulation of the moment, ginning up controversy wherever they went—trying to get Cooper arrested for wearing see-through clothes, and insisting on wrapping the vinyl records of Cooper’s 1972 album School’s Out in panties. He saw the value in marketed rebellion, but Gordon also had a conscience. Later, working with Teddy Pendergrass and other African-American artists, he sought to break free from the constraints of the so-called “chitlin’ circuit,” in which artists were frequently stiffed performance fees.

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Posted on June 14, 2014 by Editor

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