As we continue our talk with Nancy Henning she elaborates on her time as Doug’s original audience and his first jobs as a magician. Take it away Nancy!
You sounded like a good audience.
Oh, I was a good audience. And boyfriends, as I grew up, would always be asking me, “How does he do it? How does he do it?” And I said – “It’s magic. I don’t know how he does it.” Even though I did. I would never tell.
Was it a gradual entrance into magic for him?
Well, he had gotten magic kits for I can’t remember what birthday – really young, maybe six-seven years old –and then he just expanded on that. And then, he started doing kids birthday parties and stuff like that and it just grew. I can remember in high school we lived in the Niagara Escarpment, so we were within a day’s drive of the Blackstone Magic Shop just over the border somewhere… And he wanted to go down there, and my mum said he could.
It was an overnight drive for us to go down there and shop and then get back again, and he and his girlfriend and me and my boyfriend went down. She wouldn’t let him go with his girlfriend, who was then his assistant, and she wouldn’t let him go with his girlfriend unless I went down, too. So, me and my boyfriend were his chaperone, which is kind of funny, since he was three years older. The four of us went down together, I think, and we went down to the Blackstone Magic Shop and that was his big shopping trip… He thought he’d died and gone to heaven. And he would have been probably in grade 12 then, I was in grade 9.
That’s very young.
It is. But then, my parents supported him all the way along. I can remember when we were – when I was in – I can’t remember if it was grade 9 or grade 7; it was probably when I was in grade 7 – we did a trip to Europe and he had gotten some magicians names from the International Brotherhood of Magician’s. Names that lived in – somewhere in Italy. And he contacted him, and this guy didn’t speak English and Doug didn’t speak Italian, of course – none of us spoke Italian. And we contacted this guy somehow and got a hold of him, and Doug – we dropped Doug off at this guy’s house in Italy. I mean, times were different then. The world was not as scary a place.
And we dropped Doug off for the day and went and did some sightseeing and picked him up at the end of the day and off we went. And Doug spent the day with this guy and they just showed each other stuff.
Now, there’s that well-known picture of him doing the levitation trick with you. Could you talk a bit about that?
You know, I don’t remember the exact details. I think it was an advertising picture for a brochure. But I can’t remember exactly what. Like, we had done some shows together, and we did a show for the assembly at the high school…but I think it was an advertising picture. It was in the local newspaper, and I think it was on a brochure.
But that’s basically all I can remember about that. And I know once he became – once he started doing shows in places where there were liquor licenses, he needed an assistant that could go in licensed places where I couldn’t go, because I was three years younger and I couldn’t get in places where they served alcohol. So, then, he had to find an older assistant. And then, the only time I did it again, was when his assistant was ill, and he had a very important show north of Toronto…I know he was nervous and he thought I was going to flub it up…
And we practiced and practiced and practiced, and I remember I was hemming my dress in the car on the way there, because I had made my dress, and he was (saying), you know, “This is an important show, Nancy. We have to make sure we don’t make any mistakes” …