Chicago Tribune Interview Conclusion

Well here we are. I’ve particularly enjoyed this article for Doug’s musings on the past, present, and future of magic as he saw it at that time. If you have any thoughts please drop me a line. See you next time!

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

By Larry Cart

“To explain what I think takes place in the audience`s mind during an illusion,“ Henning says, “I`ll have to take an example–say the illusion where I levitate a girl on top of fountains. 

“The girl comes out on stage, is placed on the fountains and then the assistants take their hands away and the girl is floating on top of streams of water. Now as all this happens, the audience is trying to figure out how it`s being done, and in the process their minds become very excited and lively. So that`s the first thing–I enliven the audience`s minds and stimulate their intellects.

“But now the fountains drop down, leaving the girl still floating in air. That creates doubt about the most obvious explanation–that there must be something in the water holding her up–and then that really gives way when I pass a hoop over her.

“So at this point, the minds of most people just stop. Their intellects give up; and whenever your mind does that, you feel a childlike upsurge of joy, a wonderful sense of release.

“It`s like when you were a kid and asked what was beyond the Earth and were told about the solar system and the Milky Way and all the other galaxies. Then when you asked, `Where does it end?` you were told that it doesn`t end, that instead it just goes on forever, and your mind joyfully gave up in the face of the unfathomable.“

Returning to more mundane affairs, Henning recently has been the butt of some send-ups on NBC-TV`s “Saturday Night Live,“ with Martin Short doing a quite deadly impersonation of him.

“No, that didn`t bother me at all,“ Henning says. “In fact, I thought it was very complimentary. Martin and I both went to McMaster University up in Canada, so he`s very familiar with the way I look and talk and move. I thought his version of me was a riot.“

A figure familiar enough to satirize, Henning probably will remain popular as long as he wants to work. But because he almost singlehandedly restored stage magic to a place of eminence in the entertainment world, one wonders if he can envision a time when magic will return to its pre-Henning state.

“I did sort of open up the theatrical and television fields,“ Henning says, “but magic is so healthy now that I can`t imagine that we`ll ever go back to the era when you only had some nightclub magicians who were a little bit sleazy and lot of people who worked kiddie shows.

“I just did a benefit in Las Vegas where all the top magicians got together; and there was one young magician who so thrilling and original that I knew that the future of magic was in good hands. His name is Jeff McBride, and while it`s hard to describe what he did, I`ll try.

“He comes onstage wearing a mask, and when he takes off the mask, what`s underneath looks like a real face, only you`re not quite sure. Then he takes his head, turns it around 180 degrees–that was the point where I just about fell out of my chair–removes the second mask and under that there`s no face at all! Then all these masks keep floating around the stage and coming back to his face, and he keeps taking them off again.

“He did about 20 minutes, and I didnt see one thing that I`d ever seen before. And as for figuring out how he did it, I didnt even care. I reacted just like everyone else. I stopped worrying and felt wonder.“

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