A Concluding Chat with John Gaughan

As the day concluded, John and I went into his collection room which houses a vast and impressive array of magic artefacts stretching back over two hundred years. As you read this short interview, it’s important to note that Doug worked with the true best of the best in magic. It certainly was a team effort, and what a team it was.

Can you talk about how the genesis of how the trunk illusion came into being?

It was an idea of Doug’s. He always wanted to have an expanding trunk…but, in Doug’s case he wanted to have a small trunk that he would produce, and he would set it on the table and we’d put a cloth over it. It would then slowly grow and he would pull the cloth off, and open the top and, and sure enough, inside was the girl (Brooke Shields).

Was this an original illusion for this special?

As far as I knew, it was all original. It’s not a very clever design. It’s very complex and tedious. As you saw, the reload takes fifteen to twenty minutes, and there’s a million things that can go wrong especially if you’re trying to do it between shows or something.

What is it like for you seeing it back in operation?

Well, you know in looking at it now after forty years, you say “Why’d you do it like that?” I thought that it would be enough mechanical advantage to help pull it up. You could see in your videos, that the motor needed more power. Of course, that thing hadn’t been turned on in so long…that1/3rd mark needed a little more torque to it…

How did this illusion eventually come back to you?

I bought that back  for fifty dollars…I could have (bought more illusions) but as you can see it’s a huge thing and you have to haul it around for fifty years. It’s like having an extra car in your garage.

Is there anything from that special that still stands out for you?

Yes. There was a lot of parts and pieces to it mainly because it was done live. So, your muscles are so tense going up to the start of the show…Mostly all these illusions and effects were ones that Doug had never performed before, but everything worked.

In closing, how important do you think those specials were to magic at the time?

Oh, they were very important. Doug brought an electricity and believability to the stage. Everybody really believed that whatever he said was true. So, that helped us sell everything. He was just a wonderful magician.

Thank you John for a wonderful day!



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