Mensch (Yiddish: מענטש mentsh, cognate with German: Mensch “human being”) means “a person of integrity and honor.
Documentaries are so popular now and cover a wide variety of things. A lot of the time the movies cover tough subjects, things that are a bit of a downer or hard to watch. And movies about the entertainment business and about people who work in Hollywood are mostly about how terrible they are or some awful event. Supermensch is not one of those kinds though. This is a documentary celebrating a larger than life person done with a lot of passion for the subject.
You may ask who the heck is Shep Gordon?
Shep was a guy who was in the right place at the right time on many occasions and always seemed to do the right thing for himself and the people around him. So much so Mike Myers (yes THAT Mike Myers) made his first film all about the manager known as Shep Gordon. In a nutshell Shep was the kind of guy who stood up for the people he managed and made sure people got paid and treated fairly. Everyone from Michael Douglas to Sylvester Stallone and of course Myers himself speak glowingly about him.
Shep goes way back in the business to the 60’s when rock and roll was just coming of age. Some of the notable people he knew and worked with back in the early days were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison. The documentary is really fascinating for the amount of people he has encountered, worked with, and helped along the way. Some really heavy hitters in Hollywood have been touched by Shep and his business acumen. He managed to pretty much just have an entire career fall into his lap with early happenstance meetings. Shep has managed and been friends with Alice Cooper for over 40 years and still manages for him today. The doc gives reveals of some amazing things like the legend of the chicken with its head bitten off at the Alice Cooper concert and who exactly was responsible for that.
Along with all of that Shep created what we know today as the celebrity chef. Shep is a known foodie and loved to cook for people. The movie explores how he took guys like Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse and brought them to TV in the early days of the Food Network and managed to get them respected along with good deals to make money after toiling away in the restaurant business. It is quite fascinating how far his reach went in the business.
Now with a career and experiences like this, it comes with a cost. While being hugely successful in so many ways, the one place where he really needed help was with his own love life. The documentary is pretty clear about the kind of guy he was in the past and Shep is open about that too. He never had time for personal relationships for the most part, despite always having an open door policy for guests at his house where anyone could drop by and stay and he would take care of them like family. Shep was never alone but it is clear he did yearn for something more. In the past, as evidenced by the picture above, he clearly enjoyed the spoils of that world he was a part of. But do not let that pic fool you, there is more to the story and just watch the doc and see a whole portrait of a kind and decent man.
The documentary is a breezy 90 minutes of personal and professional recollections of his career and life spent in or next to the spotlight. We see a picture of a man, one who started a long time ago in a room filled with a cloud of smoke, into the hedonism of the 70’s and 80’s, and then to the man who saw fame for what it was and embraced Buddhism and has even served rice to his Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
Myers affection for Shep is quite clear as the film moves in and out of his life and even looks at some of the less than perfect parts of his world. You can tell many people feel very strongly about him. It is a well done and touching movie about a man who has had an unusual and interesting life.
You can find Supermensch streaming on outlets like Netflix now.