10 Questions with Carisa Hendrix

Today ‘s special guest is renowned magician Carisa Hendrix. Along with her alter ego, Lucy Darling, Hendrix has taken the magic world by storm over the last ten years. Awarded the 2019 Stage Magician of the Year by the AMA, Hendrix continues to breathe new life into magic through innovation and comedy.

If that weren’t enough, Carisa is a huge admirer of Doug and his work. So, with that in mind, I asked her to answer ten questions regarding Doug, his costumes, and everything in between. So, without further ado, Carisa Hendrix!

Can you tell me how and when you first became aware of Doug?

As a Canadian I think I was aware of Doug from a young age. Basically, as soon as I knew about magic, I knew about Doug. 

What was it about him that appealed to you?

There is so much. His visual styling took magic from the image of top hats and tails into this world of colorful, joyful play. His overwhelming authentic wonder.  

Copyright: New York Public Library’s Billy Rose Theater Division

As a magician yourself, what is it about his performance style that stands out for you?

I think there was a genuine wonder and love of magic that shines through in every performance.

What do you think it was that made audiences of the time gravitate towards him?

When a performer taps into the current zeitgeist of their time, people tend to gravitate towards them. Doug in particular was offering people a gentle kindness, and sense of play that satisfied a human need. 

Can you talk about how his costumes initially impacted you, and ones that stand out for you?

I think you know I have a soft spot for the history of clothing as it relates to magic. What’s interesting about Doug’s era of the early 70s was that the darkness and tragedies of the time caused a reactionary style, as a response to the war and the darkness people started fashion trends centered around playful, colorful, and fun. There was also a hippy peasant look that was distinctly politically charged. The ideal body was willowy and natural, summoning the sense of freedom and tranquility. There were a number of other fashion ideas all revolving around the concept of comfort.

Doug’s embracing of this style, in combination with a genuine love of magic, elevated the performance and made him an icon of the time. The 70s were a time of bold colors and sartorial flair. The magician in his stuffy black tailored suit was (a) relic when compared to the new entertainer taking the world stage. Legends like David Bowie paved the way for the jump suit. Flared pants popularized by ABBA and Michael Jackson found their way into his style as well.  

As I’m sure you know, Doug’s Toronto show ‘Spellbound’ directed by Ivan Reitman, was costumed by the amazing Marilyn Brooks. So much of his early style was shaped by her incredible eye for silhouette and color. When Doug was moving his show from Toronto to Broadway a costume designer was asked to put together a few things in his style for the new show. As soon as he saw the outfits he is noted to have said, “They don’t really expect me to wear that do they?”

By then he knew exactly what would work for his magic. The style in the Broadway show seems to be a refined version of the look first crafted for this Toronto show. ‘The Magic Show’ in 1974 was costume designed by Randy Barceló, notably the same costume designer of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Do you have a favorite of the NBC Specials?

It’s so hard to say. For me I love to binge watch them in order, and see his style, comfort and persona evolve over time. 

Do you have a favorite illusion of Doug’s overall?

I love the coins and glass, the elephant, anything where he interacts with children.

Is there anything of Doug that influences you in your own performances?

His Multum in Parvo was very inspiring to me. 

How do you think Doug influenced magic today?

He set the stage for TV magic in so many ways, and gave modern magic permission to part with that golden era aesthetic. 

What do you think it was that made Doug Henning, Doug Henning?

I imagine it was a million little factors, his trip to the Magic Castle, his love of theatre, and his bravery as an artist. 

Carisa Hendrix, thank you so much.

For more information on Carisa Hendrix and Lucy Darling please click: HERE

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