Today we have a treat in store for you in the form of a brand new interview with one of Doug’s earliest technical collaborators Brian Lumley. From “Spellbound,” to “The Magic Show,” to Doug’s first two specials Brian was there all the way. He was more than gracious enough to answer a wide range of questions, and I’ll be spreading them out all week.
So, without further ado…
Can you tell us how you first met Doug?
Brian Lumley: Lesley Walker (Maya in Spellbound) and I were house mates along with six other people in a large house on Gothic Avenue in Toronto. In early January 1973, Lesley started working for Doug. After a rehearsal one night near the end of January she brought him to our house for dinner. The dinner and acoustic party after was a great time for us all to show our wares. Half of the house were musicians of all kinds so there was lots of atmosphere. We played and then Doug did his thing sitting on our living room floor. (It was) Outstanding magic within 3 feet of your face. It was one of those nights that raised everybody’s level of awareness with their skill. Everybody had a good time and it was a happy house.
At some point in the evening Doug got me aside and explained that he wanted to bring the grand illusions back to the Great Stage. He asked if I would build some things for the show and be part of the act on and off stage. I had never done anything like this before and it sounded like fun so I told him I was in. He had already explained the overall precariousness of the plan so our agreement was a handshake. I knew nothing was going to happen until after the summer. He gave me the go ahead to make the first base for the cougar appearance in late August. We were always in touch through Lesley and he would also come by. It was a very homey spirit.
What were you initial impressions of him?
I liked what he had to say as I had my own similar beliefs. It was very much in the Eastern vein leaning towards Buddhism, but not following any established teaching.
Doug was ambitious but not in a predatory way. He wanted to perform his magic to the world. He felt everybody had their own magic inside them. To make it work you only had to believe. This is pre-TM, so when he got into meditation he simply amplified his basic initial belief.
What do you think it was that brought you together as friends?
We understood each other in many ways, but not in all ways.
I understood what he wanted the audience to see when he did a particular move. Or how the illusion was supposed to appear or function. That understanding would help me trim and set the illusion for the movement. I could follow what his hands were doing when he waved them around and draw it on paper (and) then make it. Whatever problem we came across as a team we could fix it. Be the problem minor or major we could solve the riddle.
The unique closeness of Spellbound is when we got to know each other. Spellbound is when Glen Priest came on to the scene. We had just started putting the show together in earnest when Glen answered an ad in the paper. (He) showed up to ask for the lighting position for the stripper club we were rehearsing over. He was sent up to us and he joined the team that day.
To Be Continued…