Shep Gordon (left) and Alice Cooper. They partied, but also played golf and softball together.
When I interviewed Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, The Hollies), he told me about David Geffen coming up with the idea of putting a real photograph attached to the album cover for Déjà vu. It would look like a real photo album, but was going to cost the record company an extra $.48 per album. They reluctantly did it. So when I heard Alice Cooper’s manager Shep Gordon talk about the idea he had for one of his albums being wrapped in women’s panties – I wasn’t all that impressed. It may have been the only story he told in the entire movie that didn’t impress me. The ideas this music manager came up with to promote Cooper in the early days include: A photo of him naked with a boa constrictor, that same photo being on a billboard truck that he purposely had breakdown in Piccadilly Circus (selling out the show in London), having the band dress in see-through plastic so he could call the cops on them, get some arrests and publicity out of it. How that story actually turned out is one you have to find out about for yourself. Oh, and you think Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a bat is gross, just wait until you hear what Alice Cooper and his crowd did to a chicken.
Yet this isn’t just stories about the hard rocking bands of the ‘70s. This is a guy that started out being punched in the nose by Janis Joplin, and hanging out with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. When Hendrix found out he was Jewish, he suggested he become a manager. He even came up with the logo for his business cards. It was a step up from being beat up as a probation officer on his first day. It might also keep him from being arrested for selling drugs out of his hotel room.
Alice Cooper eventually found stardom, which meant money started rolling in. This afforded Gordon the opportunity of buying many homes and partying at the Playboy mansion. He also went back to all the hotels they stiffed with bad checks, and he reimbursed them. That would be the first of his mench moments. We later find out that he ends up buying a home for his ex-girlfriends grandchildren, and helps them out financially.
When Gordon gets interested in cooking and starts learning how, he befriends some big name chefs. When they complain about the lack of money they make, he manages them for free. It basically puts Emeril Lagasse on the map, and makes him and other chefs millions.
When he met Groucho Marx, he was surprised to hear about his financial problems. He basically managed him pro bono.
His parties and open invitations to celebrities at his Maui mansion hardly make him a mensch. The stars that talk so glowingly about these events and Gordon (Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Tom Arnold, Steven Tyler), or the celebrities pictured (Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson) – well, they enjoyed partying in a mansion and not being hounded by paparazzi or slimy folks trying to make deals. That really tells us nothing about whether or not he’s a mensch. In fact, you could make the argument that the same guy that proudly wears a shirt that says “No Head, No Backstage Pass” to Alice Cooper shows, also likes hobnobbing with the famous people. That leads to one of the flaws in this documentary. Mike Myers (Saturday Night Live) produced and directed this, exclaiming Shep Gordon to be the “Nicest man I have ever met, hands down.” Strong words, especially coming from a guy that first met him when they argued over which Cooper song would be featured in Wayne’s World. Myers wanted one of the hits, Shep wanted to promote a new single. Guess who won that one? Yet the anecdote he shares is that when he was going through a very difficult time in his life he called Shep and asked if he could stay at his place a few weeks. That ended up being two months. Well, I was left with a few questions. What was that difficult thing in his life? If this writer/actor is directing his first movie – a documentary – and choosing to make himself a part of the story, surely he needs to be candid with us. Was it his divorce? Was it that he had two movies (The Cat in the Hat, Love Guru) flop? And since when is letting a friend stay at your mansion a mench move?
In Myers quest to present this love letter to perhaps the nicest manager in history (he does make a strong case), are the viewers not allowed to hear the dark side? Instead this comes across like something he might put on Match.com to find a wife. All we kept hearing about was how lonely he is, who will he leave his mansions to, and why his paid assistant was the only one near him during a medical emergency.
We were told about a Playmate he married; a model who lived with him for years before moving away. There was a blonde chef who went to him for advice on her book. He took her to bed a few days later, and married this woman (who was half his age). Sharon Stone showed up at one of his parties, went immediately into a bedroom with him – and they dated for years. Those three women aren’t heard from. Does this mean he wasn’t such a mench to women? I certainly didn’t think so, since he seems to relish the fact that he could sleep with groupies that were there for Alice Cooper, and even jokes about underage groupies. And when Michael Douglas starts the documentary, and all through it talks about how much Shep loves womanizing (that coming from a guy who checked into a facility for sex addiction), well…it’s hard to have much sympathy for the guy that hasn’t found the right woman or hasn’t had a child yet.
All that being said, this movie is a blast. The stories he and others told were fascinating. One involves having joint custody of a cat with his neighbor – Cary Grant. Another involves cooking for the Dalai Lama. There’s a time he was on a vacation at a secluded island. His computer stopped working and he called the front desk to complain. Steve Jobs showed up at his room to fix it.
Gordon helped client Anne Murray’s career with just one photograph. He showed up on the Sunset Strip, knowing where Mickey Dolenz, Harry Nillson and John Lennon liked to drink. He begged them to come over to the Troubadour to take a photo with Murray. They agreed, and it made her career.
He got Teddy Pendergrass as a client, after challenging him to a weekend of drugs and debauchery. He was very instrumental in helping Pendergrass finally make millions, but again – it brings up other dark sides to this “mensch.” Since he talks about the dangers of drugs and losing friends to them, I couldn’t help but think about Alice Cooper and his alcoholism (it’s brought up in the film). Perhaps exposing clients to drugs isn’t the best idea. And it was rather bizarre to hear Gordon tell a story about Pendergrass not going on stage, and a week later being in the car accident that paralyzed him. He implies that was karma. Ouch!
The way Gordon got DJs to play the records or paparazzi to leave his guests alone, weren’t anything we hadn’t heard before. Yet listening to him tell the stories was interesting. It was hysterical listening to him talk about the mishaps that sounded like something out of Spinal Tap. One of those incidents included shooting Alice Cooper out of a canon at a concert in a baseball stadium (see the movie for the outcome to that).
I could listen to Shep Gordon and his hiccupy laugh for days, so this documentary was right up my alley. Even though I realize he wasn’t the saint this movie portrayed. Heck, one of his “adopted” grandchildren said she “finally accepted him.” Makes you wonder why, when he basically paid all the families bills. What did he do that was so horrible to her mom? The documentary should’ve had some conflict and not been so self-indulgent. Yet you can’t help but adore this goofy guy who looks like a mix between Larry David and Jeffrey Tambor.
It will be the only movie you ever see where Sly Stallone uses the word “accoutrement.”
This gets 4 stars out of 5.
Source : http://fox5sandiego.com/2014/06/18/supermench-the-legend-of-shep-gordon/