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The International Brotherhood of Magicians

19 Sep

An Introduction to Missouri TVP Doug Clark

Category: Blog   Posted by: DOUGLAS CLARK

Hi, my name is Doug Clark and I live in Columbia MO.  I am the Math Coordinator for The Learning Center at the University of Missouri.  It’s a job I have had since late December, 1992.  Prior to that, I was a graduate student in mathematics.  I received a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and Religious Studies (Numerology, anyone?!?) from Westminster College in Fulton MO in 1980.  I then received an MS in Applied Mathematics from the University of Missouri in 1983.  Following that, I began work on a Ph.D. in Differential Geometry studying Relativity and Cosmology.  Unfortunately, I didn’t quite finish this.  Today, I run the tutoring program where I hire and train tutors, give exam reviews, tutor students, and usually teach a statistics and/or math class each semester.


So, how did I get into magic?  As with many, I was fascinated by magic when I was young.  My family grew up with cards as my parents were accomplished bridge players.  We were always playing cards games.  As such I had a fascination with card magic.  In the early to mid-1970s, I purchased a paperback copy of Scarne on Card Tricks which I devoured and performed several effects from it over the next few years.  However, as I had many interests (especially reading), I drifted away from magic during high school and college.  In the early 1990s, I became interested in magic again and found in the University Library the five-volume republication of Hilliard’s Greater Magic.  I checked out the volumes with card effects, especially ace effects.  These I learned and began to show to students I was tutoring.  In 1995, while vacationing over Memorial Day Weekend in Branson MO, I found Mr. E’s Magic and Novelties in old-town Springfield MO.  The shop was owned by Ben Stone, formerly the owner of Delben Magic.  Ben, a former Post office Inspector, enthralled me that day.  I spent the entire afternoon listening to his stories of Blackstone, Sr. and others he had known.  I left the shop with a packet trick; a VHS of Michael Ammar’s Easy to Master Card Miracles, Volume 2; and The Vernon Chronicles:  The Lost Inner Secrets, Volume 1.  From the VHS tape, I immediately learned “Twisting the Aces” and “Doc Daley’s Last Card Trick,” two effects I still do.  I also visited the magic shop in Branson MO, owned by Mark Haynes who has since passed away.  There, I bought the Kaufman and Greenberg reprint of Greater Magic.


I continued to be very interested, reading and practicing.  In August of 1995, I contacted Ben to see about getting the second volume of The Vernon Chronicles.  He, unfortunately, no longer had any copies, but suggested contacting Bob Klamm in Independence MO.  I called Bob and he didn’t have it either, but referred me to Dan Bradbury in Kansas City MO.  I then called Dan.  Unfortunately, he also didn’t have it, but he did have Volume 3 and the Vernon autobiography, He Fooled Houdini.  These I bought.  A week or so later, Dan called me to tell me that while talking to Joe Stevens at the Midwest Magic Jubilee, Joe told him he still had copies of Volume 2.  So I then called Joe Stevens and bought a copy of The Vernon Chronicles, Volume 2.


Sometime late that fall in 1995 or early in 1996, through correspondence with a magician in Texas, I learned of a magic email digest, Electronic Grymoire, maintained by Bruce Barnett.  I applied to join and was accepted.  I have continued to received it ever since.  In February of 1996, I subscribed to both Genii and MAGIC.  On April 16, I drove to Springfield MO to attend my first magic lecture (which I found out about from EG).  It was John Carney.  I was spoiled and inspired.  Also,  in April, Dan Bradbury told me that Columbia MO had an IBM Ring.  I contacted then President, David Klachko, and attended my first meeting on Sunday, April 21, 1996.  In June, I joined both the IBM and the SAM.


I was elected Ring President in 1996 and have held that position ever since.  I’ve regularly attended lectures, workshops, and conventions in St. Louis and Kansas City.  I’ve helped attract lectures to Columbia.  In 2009, former Missouri TVP Dennis Burks asked if I would be interested in becoming the new TVP.  This I agreed to do and have been the TVP for Missouri ever since.  As TVP, I have made it a point to visit each Ring in Missouri at least once.  Usually, I visit St. Louis Ring 1 and Kansas City Ring 129 several times a year.  Unfortunately, I generally only get to Branson Ring 325 once a year in November.


Since then, it’s been a privilege and an honor to be involved with the magic community.  I began buying magic books and now have a fair-sized collection.  I’ve also bought a few props along the way, but I don’t consider myself a fulltime performer.  I am an amateur and collector.  For magicians in the region, I act as a resource, providing books and research when I can.  I try to encourage young magicians.  My magic interests are, to no surprise, card magic, but also history, biography, psychology, philosophy, and mentalism.  I perform sparingly, but have been performing more as of late.  I typically do one or two magic effects for my students each semester and am now getting requests to perform effects at student presentations.


When people ask me what my hobbies are, I always tell them that I like to read…a lot.  I have a library of 20000+ books in all areas.  Magic covers about 2100 of those.  I also have a substantial collection of magic magazines (Genii, The Linking Ring, MAGIC, and MUM being the main ones).  Besides magic, I am involved with hot air ballooning and had for many years officiated 6-7 events over the summer.  Nowadays, I only officiate one event, The Great Pershing Balloon Derby held in Brookfield MO over Labor Day Weekend.  It has the distinction of being the longest continuous competitive event in the United States.  This year was the 38th.  I am also fascinated by herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians.  Since 1997, I’ve sat in on the University course every time it’s been taught.  I am also very interested in the US Supreme Court.  All of these give a glimpse of who I am.


Growing up, my mother was first a journalist, writing a regular column for the local weekly newspaper.  She then became a librarian.  From there, she went back to school to become certified as a school librarian.  All of this fed my love of reading and buying books.  As part of that, whenever my mother went to library conferences, she would bring me home autographed books.  This has led me to have books autographed whenever I can.  In magic, not only do I have magicians sign their books, but I also ask them sign their magazine covers.  I began to do this seriously in 2001.  On June 11, 2001, Ben Stone passed away from complications due to diabetes.  His family graciously gave me all of his magic magazines which included The Linking Ring complete back to June, 1946.  I then decided to embark on a project of asking every living IBM Past President (and current ones) to sign their covers of The Linking Ring (and any other magazine I had with them on it).  Once I eventually filled in my back issues of MUM, I began to do the same with the SAM Past Presidents (and current).  I sent magazines to them with self-addressed, stamped envelopes.  Eventually, I succeeded in having everyone sign their respective magazines.  Over the years, I have continued to ask the Presidents of both organizations to sign their magazine covers.  At this point, I have had about 38 IBM Presidents and 39 SAM Presidents sign their magazine covers.  This has expanded to me sending magazines and books around the world asking magicians to sign them for me.  I also am always seeking out magicians when I attend conventions.  I have been very grateful to all the magicians who have so graciously signed their books and magazines for me.  I fear that this may be what I am best known for doing.  Ah well, it’s my own little obsession and I try to always remain polite and conscientious of their time.


Okay, so there you have it, my not-so-brief magic autobiography with tangents thrown in as distractors.


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