Getting to the interview, can you tell me the backstory on how it came to be?
It came completely out of the blue. I was sitting at home one day in early August of 1999 and my phone rang, and when I answered I hear, “Hi David? It’s Doug Henning!” (laughs)… It caught me completely off-guard. We had never met before. I had known and read that he was back in the country. He called to say he wanted to buy a prop from me…because he said he was doing shows for people to get them interested in “Veda Land.”
So, he was doing these shows for very wealthy people to get them interested in “Veda Land” and that was why he was back in Los Angeles…So, he ordered the prop from me for these shows. Before I hung up on the call I asked him, “What are you doing?” So, he told me all these stories about getting “Veda Land” together. At that time I was a contributing editor for MAGIC magazine. So I asked him, “Have you ever done an interview? Would you like to do one?” He then said, “You know? No one’s ever asked!” (Laughs). He said, “I’d love to! I have things I’d like to talk about and say because people don’t know my whole story.” So, I set it up right there on the phone…
So, we set the interview up for the 21st of August, 1999…We were going to do it at “The Magic Castle”…but he called me at the last minute and said he couldn’t get it set with Milt Larsen. So, he said “Why don’t we do it where I’m staying?” which was a “Residence Inn” in Beverly Hills. He was in the process of getting ready to rent a house…So, I flew into LA, got my car, and walked in and there’s Doug Henning. In a suit and tie for God’s sake. Which was amazing!…
So, we sat down and started the interview. I brought a video camera with me for my own records…You know he was the most relaxing, easy going great guy. I asked him “Is there anything you don’t want to talk about?” He said, “No, I’ll talk about anything! Ask me anything and I’ll talk about it.” Which was great because it set everything at ease….
The interview just flowed, and flowed, and flowed. You would ask him something and he would just go…I think he just really wanted to get his whole story out, and to tell his side of everything. At that time, Doug had kind of a flaky reputation, I don’t mean personally, but in terms of things he had done like running for office, trying to levitate, all these things that confused a lot of people. But, the one thing I will say about Doug was that he was absolutely sincere, and he believed completely in everything he did. There was no other reason but enlightenment – personal enlightenment – and to help other people. He was just in awe of the world and everything around him. Whatever he said was truly how he felt. There was no putting on any airs, there was nothing fake about him.
So, he was telling me all these great stories and I ran out of tape. We went probably 3-1/2 hours. I expected to be there an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I ran out of video tape and then I ran out of audio tape. Then we kind of closed it up after that…I had no expectation it would go that long…But, he totally wanted to bare his soul and tell the Doug Henning story in his own way, which was great and I’m glad he did.
So, I got back and put the transcribed interview together for MAGIC magazine and Stan Allen put it out. A few days after it came out, a giant – and I mean giant – basket of fruit and flowers arrived on the doorstep at my house with a big thank you note from Doug. I don’t know where the note is now, but it was a great note.