“Illusion and Reality” Chicago Lecture-Mark Holstein Remembers

For those watching Sunday night’s “Magic Collector’s Corner” on Zoom, Mark Holstein briefly touched on Doug’s Chicago lecture “Illusion and Reality.”

Along with Jay Marshal, it sounded like a really interesting and fun night for a variety of reasons. I asked Mark if he could elaborate on the evening for the website, and he was kind enough to share an essay he wrote some years back. Take it away Mark.

Around 1979, Doug paused the meteoric rise of his career to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Yogi. He went to India for months. When he returned, he was a true believer in the teachings. He went to several universities to promote the program.

He did this program at an ornate lecture hall on the downtown campus of Northwestern University. Doug had not been touring for awhile, so the Chicago magic community showed up in force. I took a bus, and a train downtown. I didn’t want to miss the chance to see Doug live. Oddly, the evening began with Jay Marshall doing a 30 minute set of his classics, closing with Lefty. Jay was accompanied on the piano by Doug’s then girlfriend (later briefly his wife) Barbara DeAngelis.

Jay-Marshall-1

Doug came out in an all white three piece suit. He was charming, and so darn sincere. He spoke passionately about his experiences in India and made some pretty unbelievable claims (people levitating, super enhanced sense of sight and hearing, and “pure and real magic”).

Barbara (who later went on to a successful career of self help books and television), sang a few kooky spiritual songs. And thankfully, Doug did some magic. I recall the color changing silks, needle through balloon, Pom-Pom stick, and of course, the Gene Anderson newspaper tear. In spite of the bizarre dichotomy of the evening, Doug’s magic was wonderful. When the presentation was over, Doug stayed at the front of the hall. He spent time with the magicians. It didn’t hurt that Jay was there. It was obvious that he revered Jay. He was approachable, warm and genuine.

We all left the hall scratching our heads at what we’d seen, but really glad we saw it. Doug successfully resumed his career for a few more years, including a run on Broadway in “Merlin.” He stopped performing around 1986 and dove head first into the TM movement. He started to emerge again in the magic community in the late 90s, and died after an illness in 2000.

Special Thanks to Mark Holstein

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