A Supermensch’s Guide to Success and Happiness

A Supermensch’s Guide to Success and Happiness

Kevin C. Madigan

Kevin Madigan is a senior reporter for the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Shep Gordon will appear at the Book Festival in conversation with Kenny Leon at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, after a 6:30 screening of the documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.” (Photo by Jesse Dittmar)
Shep Gordon will appear at the Book Festival in conversation with Kenny Leon at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, after a 6:30 screening of the documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.” (Photo by Jesse Dittmar)

Celebrity agent Shep Gordon has packed a lot of fun with famous people into his 70 years, as he covers in his autobiography, “They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock ’n’ Roll.”

He will talk about the book with True Colors Theatre founder Kenny Leon on Saturday night, Nov. 12, at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center, which also will screen the 2013 documentary about him, “Supermensch.” The AJT reached Gordon, 70, at his home in Hawaii, where he has lived for 40 years.

AJT: You’re doing a book tour at the moment?
Gordon: I guess so, yeah. I’m doing a lot of the Jewish book fairs, and I just did an author dinner at the 92nd Street Y with Anthony Bourdain and Alice Cooper, and a lot of TV and stuff.

AJT: You and Bourdain are friends, right?
Gordon: Well, acquaintances who have respect for each other. He’s publisher of the book. I actually first met him when he walked up to me and said, “I’d like to do your book.” That was a couple of years ago. Then he came and did a TV show in my house and stayed for a week, and we got to know each other.

AJT: You’re still working and not really retired, is that correct?
Gordon: I still manage Alice Cooper, and I do occasional projects. I thought I was retired, but now I have a completely new definition of retirement: You do exactly the same thing, but you just don’t get paid for it.

AJT: After all this time, what’s the least favorite part of your job?
Gordon: The worst part is probably the traveling. It just takes you away from living your life, from your own journey. I enjoy traveling when I choose to do it.

AJT: Talk a bit about Groucho Marx.
Gordon: I met Groucho through Alice. He called me and said, “You’re not going to believe this: I’m in bed watching TV with Groucho Marx, and we’re wearing Mickey Mouse ears.” So I went there, and he was! Groucho wasn’t very active at that time — an older gentleman. My contribution was to help get the TV show (“You Bet Your Life”) back on the air (in reruns).

AJT: You managed Pink Floyd for about nine days?
Gordon: (Laughs) I got them a show in Chicago for a lot of money, but when they got there, the theater had just burned down. I thought it was probably an inside job. They fired me immediately.

AJT: You resisted the idea of a movie about you at first.
Gordon: There was no reason for me to do it. It’s not how I make my living. It’s really an ego exercise — no real upside that I saw for myself or anyone else. But I’m glad I said yes. It did a lot for my life personally, and the book and the movie caused me to reflect on how I’ve lived my life and see if there were any guiding principles that I used and forced me to look at it with a different set of eyes, maybe come up with some things that could help other people be successful and happy. The two parts aren’t always tied together.

AJT: Didn’t Anita Baker once throw food at you?
Gordon: Yes. (Laughs) A deli tray. You never know what’s going on in their minds or the pressure they’re under. I’m very compassionate with all of them.

AJT: You kicked off the whole celebrity chefs thing.
Gordon: I’m very proud of that. It’s really taken off. I remember the early days in Atlanta before the real celebrity chefs, there was a Greek family that was a foreshadowing of what was coming. I can’t think of the name now, but they did a great fried lobster dish. They might still be there.

AJT: We’re looking forward to seeing you.
Gordon: Happy to be coming. See you there. By the way, the book is No. 16 on the New York Times best seller list. I’m very proud.

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