Chicago Tribune Interview: Part One

In my internet travels I came across this fascinating Chicago Tribune interview from June 16, 1985. In it, Doug speaks of holding off the encroaching competition with new ideas and illusions. I really enjoyed the article, and I think you will too. 

Doug Henning Pulls New Secrets From His Hat To Hold Off Competition
By Larry Cart

Yes, magic fans, Doug Henning is back–with his bushy hair and mustache, his chipmunk overbite, his neo-flower-child costumes and, of course, a bunch of new illusions that he claims are guaranteed to boggle our minds.

And in this case, the word `new` is crucial–not only because Henning`s revival of the long-dormant art of stage magic has spawned a host of imitators and rivals (including the highly publicized David Copperfield) but also because Henning was here only last fall.

So the cute little Canadian-born prestidigitator is well aware that when he arrives at the Holiday Star Theatre, where he will be performing Tuesday through June 23, he had better have at hand his trade`s equivalent of the better mousetrap.

`The gap between me and other magicians used to be very great,` Henning says. “When I did my first few television specials, my illusions were so advanced that it took a couple of years before the other illusionists could even figure out what I was doing, let alone try to imitate me.

`But now I`ve been on TV so many times that the others have almost caught up. In fact, there`s a magician in Las Vegas right now who`s trying to do my whole act, and six or seven others who produce tigers (a Henning trademark).

`So I used to be about 10 steps ahead of the pack, but now I`m only 1 or 2 steps ahead–and they`re barking at my heels.`

Henning, it should be said, doesn`t sound the least bit bitter about all this competition–in part because he cultivates an image so chirpy and positive that he could outcharm an elf, but also because he plans to pull some impressive new tricks out of his proverbial sleeve.

“I’ve added four new illusions,` Henning says, `and one that I`m particularly proud of is a kind of comedy number.

`You know how a magician always puts girls in boxes and then saws them in half? Well, this time, in order to get revenge, my wife (Debby) and two of my female assistants are going to lure me into a box, hypnotize me and then saw me into three pieces. It`s very funny, especially when they make my middle vanish.

`Then, there`s a variation on the `Mystery of the Silver Rings`illusion, where I link and unlink the rings. People used to come up to me after the show and say, `Gee, Doug, that was nice, but those are your rings,` so what I`m going to is borrow some ordinary finger-rings from members of the audience and link and unlink them, with the people standing right there to verify that the rings are theirs. It`s a small illusion, but I think it will blow everybody`s mind.`

To be continued, you guessed it, tomorrow!


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