“If somebody does something really nice for you, make sure you do it for them. Putting others first is the most selfish thing you could possibly do, because it always makes you happy,” says the subject of Mike Myers’ star-studded new documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.”
Gordon has remained true to his once-huge roster of A-list clients ever since Jimi Hendrix suggested he manage the then-unknown Alice Cooper back in the late 1960s, when they all resided at Los Angeles’ seedy Landmark Hotel.
Gordon — who converted to Tibetan Buddhism — worked with the Dalai Lama and almost single-handedly launched the celebrity-chef movement – didn’t understand any spiritual precepts, like karma, when he and Cooper built his monolithic Alive Enterprises in the 1970s.
“I just did what seemed like the right thing to do,” he said, during a recent visit to San Francisco, where he was planning on supping with his old friend Sammy Hagar at Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Coqueta. “And I had an artist in Alice who allowed me to do the right thing, which was very unusual.”
“Supermensch” documents the impresario’s early William Castle-ish stunts, like tossing a live chicken onstage to Cooper, who — believing it could fly — returned it to the crowd, which ripped it to shreds and cemented Alice’s shock-rocker reputation.
The movie clarifies one other rule: When signing an artist, Gordon says he removes his glasses, stares them in the eye, and states “If I do my job perfectly, I will probably kill you.”
Myers first met Gordon in 1991, when he recruited Cooper for the soundtrack and an appearance in “Wayne’s World,” for the famous “We’re not worthy!” genuflecting scene.
A friendship developed, and Myers (who hounded the humble Gordon for 10 years before he finally agreed to “Supermensch”) wound up crashing at the Gordon’s Maui abode, the location of celebrity dinner parties where no schmoozing is permitted, only non-industry discussion. Talk shop and you get bounced.
“Conversation is really important — it’s a dying art,” says Gordon, who long ago relocated to Hawaii. The night before, he adds, he had been in Toronto, breaking bread with filmmaker Laurie David, Israeli journalist Ari Shavit, Canadian Onex executive Gerry Schwartz and his bookstore-owning wife Heather Reisman, plus Cooper, whom he still handles. “Each of us had something important to do that night, but we were just enjoying each other’s company,” he says. “Everybody hit pause to take time out to have a wonderful dinner.”
IF YOU GO
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Starring Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper, Anne Murray, Bob Richard, Mike Myers, Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Tom Arnold, Willie Nelson, Emeril Lagasse
Directed by Mike Myers
Running time 1 hour 24 minutes