Pe op le
If there’s someone to credit for reinvigorating and rebranding the world of magic
this millennium, it’s a slight 5ft 6in Yorkshire man called Steven Frayne – or
DYNAMO to his millions of fans worldwide. The deftly-inventive magician,
who recently wowed fans at the 3Arena, chatted to Domhnall O’Donoghue and
discussed everything from supportive grandfathers to unsupportive grandmothers,
as well as his current ambition: to get a certain Conor McGregor to see his show
is is a story about poverty, So goes the story of Dynamo, real name Steven Frayne,
bullies and 19 prize-winning who recently completed a record-breaking run at the 3Arena
golden retrievers. But most with his show, Seeing is Believing: Dynamo Live. Counting
of all, about magic. Will Smith, Samuel L Jackson, Coldplay and Robbie
Williams as fans, the 33-year old still credits his shrewd and
Not the rabbit-from-a-hat, creepy, holiday-camp entertainer quick-thinking mentor as the reason for all the phenomenal
kind of magic, but the sort of trickery that feels so fresh it success he has achieved since those difficult childhood
turns bullish hip-hop artists and football stars into giggling years in Yorkshire.
children. Mobile phones miraculously appear in beer bottles.
This magician can vanish and reappear on the other side of a “I’ve dedicated the show to my grandad,” Dynamo explains
glass window. His shows are shocking – he swallows necklaces in his melodic northern English accent. “I was a loner as a
and pulls them out of his stomach – and delightful. In 2011 kid, I was very shy. I didn’t have great social skills, if I’m
he walked on the river Thames near the houses of parliament. honest – I was a bit awkward. I got used to being on my
own in a room, thinking of how I could take over the world!
It’s the type of triumphant real-life David versus Goliath
story that would normally leave Hollywood moguls emptying “But, then my grandfather got me into magic.
their coffers in order to get hold of the rights. A young Unfortunately, he’s not around to see this show, but without
Yorkshire lad – short, vulnerable and poor – finds himself him, the show wouldn’t exist because I wouldn’t be doing
the target of an unsavoury gang of school bullies in the what I’m doing. So I wanted to keep his story and his legacy
playground. Overflowing wheelie bins become a second alive – his story is interwoven in and out of the show.”
home for the plagued child. Days become endless; the
torment, relentless. Unable to call upon his limited physical So far, the tour, which has seen ticket sales reach north of
strength or his gentle, reserved nature as a way of defending 250,000, has required the magician to travel the length and
himself, the helpless boy is left with little choice but to breadth of the UK, and while “it has been going amazing”,
endure the vile abuse. the proverbial cherry on the cake came when the show
rolled up to his former neck of the woods – a place where
That is until his beloved grandfather takes him aside and school bullies have been since replaced with adoring fans.
starts teaching him some magic. And not of the hocus pocus
Harry Potter variety but, rather, practical illusions that “For me, it was a lovely feeling bringing the show home,”
empowers the child to protect himself against his persecutors. Dynamo recalls. “Actually, my grandma makes a cameo –
An astute picking-up trick that makes his waif-like body she’s 86 and she does magic in the show! It’s really cool to
impossible to lift, or bending his fingers into alarming have her join me and to perform to a home crowd. And the
positions to instil fear into anyone who continues to cause
the youngster any harm. response I got, and having all my friends and family
there was so good.
Instantly becoming something of a legend around the “My favourite part about this job is seeing
playground, the talented boy would then dedicate every everybody’s reaction to the magic. I think it’s
waking hour practicing and perfecting his skills and craft to safe to say I’m addicted to that feeling!”
such a standard that within a handful of years, he would What’s more, the critically-acclaimed
become one of the most famous and well-known show affords the entertainer the opportunity
magicians in the world. to silence the small handful of critics who
trawl through internet forums days on end,
4041 IRISH TATLER MAN trying to show their smarts by revealing
the secrets behind Dynamo’s magic.
And bear in mind, this is not the
entertainer kind of ‘magic’, but
the sort of jaw-dropping
My grandma –
even now – still asks,
‘when are ye going
to get a proper job?’
Dynamo confounding I got to invite the Emerald Isle. Not only has he filmed here on numerous
physics onstage – photo notorious Mr Conor occasions, but he has also married into the diaspora.
Credit, Andrew Timms McGregor to the
show – so, if he’s “It’s great to come to Ireland because my wife is
trickery that is so game-changing, so visual that it turns reading this, come half-Irish,” he reveals. “She’s got family scattered across
posturing hip-hop artists and football stars [Rio Ferdinand down! Just tell him the country who’ll be able to come and see the show, so
was memorably shell-shocked following one particular that my show will that’s quite cool.
feat of trickery] into giggling children. last longer than
13 seconds “Also, there’s so many people who have worked with
Do a quick internet search if you’re not convinced: me on my show…some of them are from Ireland, so it’s
when not making mobile phones miraculously appear
within beer bottles, swallowing necklaces and pulling
them out of his stomach, seemingly vanishing only to
reappear on the other side of a glass window, the man like a homecoming for them because their families can
they call Dynamo has even been known to walk on the River come and see what they have been working on. It’s kinda sharing the
Thames near the houses of parliament. magic with everyone.”
“Ever since I was doing magic as a kid, you always get people One Irishman Dynamo particularly hoped would be in attendance
who are sceptical, but that’s why this tour is great because seeing is at some stage during the show’s five-day run at the 3Arena is a
believing,” says Dynamo. “It’s like an open invitation for the certain prolific MMA fighter.
sceptics to come along and witness the show for themselves – and “I got to invite the notorious Mr Conor McGregor to the show, so,
by the end of the show, they’ll be a believer, I guarantee it.” if he’s reading this, come down! Just tell him that my show will last
As you would imagine, there is a certain degree of danger involved longer than 13 seconds – so he can’t watch it on Instagram, he’ll have
in a show performed by a man who, for his BAFTA-nominated TV to come and see it in real life,” Dynamo jokes.
series Dynamo: Magician Impossible once walked on water and But the people who he truly gets excited about performing for are
strolled down the side of the LA Times headquarters, seemingly his fans – a loyal band of supporters who the illusionist describes as
unaided. But, funnily enough, the only hint of precariousness so far his “family”. Laying claim to 5.3 million Facebook fans and 2.39
came in the form of a spontaneous wedding proposal between two million Twitter followers, Dynamo is constantly engaging with those
audience members and whether the woman would say yay or nay. who put him “in this position” across the various social media
“We had a guy propose in the middle of my show,” Dynamo platforms.
explains. “One of the guys came on stage with his partner – there’s “I could have just been a guy doing magic in my bedroom and
a point where I have ten people on stage at a time – and halfway no one would have ever known about it,” he humbly acknowledges.
through one of the pieces of magic that I’m doing, this guy decides “It’s the audiences who I’ve performed for over the years who have
that it’s the perfect moment to propose to his girlfriend. become die-hard fans – they’ve put me in this position where I can
“Down on one knee on the stage, he got my microphone and come to Ireland, where I can do five or six shows in arenas,
proposed to his girlfriend. Thankfully, she said yes. So that’s a something that most rock bands or music artists can’t even do.”
moment that I’m going to remember forever.” “I’m going to the same stages where the likes of Kanye West and
Dynamo’s recent 3Arena shows may have been lapped up by his Taylor Swift have performed in,” he continues. “It’s quite crazy for
fans, but the magician himself also got something of a thrill magic to be in this sort of place and for me to be at the forefront
performing in Ireland as the Bradford native has strong links to the of that.”
4243 IRISH TATLER MAN
Speaking of superstars, Dynamo has been wowing the A-Z of – my body takes a little while to readjust.
Hollywood glitterati for the past number of years, something that “But I try to keep healthy through diet and keeping fit – I’m not Conor
doesn’t faze the magician in the slightest – so long as he has a trick
or two up his sleeve. McGregor-fit but I go to the gym regularly and I try to work out as much as
“I get star-struck in a different way,” he confesses. “When I meet
people, I’m about to perform magic for them and I’m very comfortable “I try to fight off any problems by being healthy – as healthy as I can,
with my magic. I wouldn’t say I hide behind the magic, but I’m more being a person with Crohn’s disease. I try to chill out as much as possible
comfortable when I’m performing than when I’m not performing. because stress is probably the biggest thing that can cause a flare up, so I
try to be laid back.”
“But if I was to hold a conversation with them, I might mumble
or words might not come out of my mouth. Like when I first met Although it could be argued that Dynamo’s definition of chilling out
Jay Z, that was quite a surreal experience to say the least. He’s such probably differs from that of Joe Soap on the street – after all, he cites
an inspiration – he has come from a poor background, similar to stunt driving as one of his favourite past-times. His other hobbies, such as
myself, and he has managed to become a huge success against all reading, watching films and going for walks with his wife and dog, seem to
the odds. be much more sensible, and are, presumably, encouraged by his insurers.
“He has managed to make himself into a business and an empire Having achieved so much at such a young age, what lies in store for the
that’s not just about his rapping. He’s combined all the things he’s masterly spellbinder after the tour concludes? A much-deserved holiday in
loved, and that’s what I’m doing – he’s an entrepreneur as well as the sun, perhaps? Hardly.
an amazing performer. So, when I met him, and I’m such a huge
fan of what he does, I was very nervous then.” “For me, my ambitions are constantly growing the more I achieve,” he
explains. “I did the TV show – I did series one, where I walked on water and
Confidence - or a lack of - does not seem to be an issue these predicted the future. How the heck am I going to do anything better for series
days, it appears. two? Then, how am I going to do better than that for series three – and then
I made series four. And then I’m like, ‘Alright, what can I do now? I want to
“Overall, I’m just much more confident now,” Dynamo agrees. do a live show but I have no clue how to put my magic onto a stage.’
“My fan base has really made me feel confident to be myself
because they have accepted me for being me. My TV show was very… “I mean, I didn’t think that it was possible,” Dynamo concedes. “But I
to a certain extent, I put myself out there – I gave away a lot of managed to achieve that with this tour. I don’t have a clue about what I’m
myself. going to do next but I think that, over the years, I’ve proven that anything is
possible so long as you’ve got a good imagination. And I like to think that
“I gave them the honest story, I didn’t put on a façade. What you I’ve got a pretty good imagination, which can take me places that I’ve never
see is what you get and, thankfully, they loved and accepted me for been before!”
being me, which has allowed me to have the confidence to be myself.”
And as for the obligatory, ‘What would you have done if you hadn’t
Unfortunately, something that Dynamo can’t use his magic to become a magician?’ question, it seems that if his 86-year-old grandmother
eliminate is Crohn’s disease, a chronic, life-altering inflammatory had her way, Dynamo would be handing the Magic Circle his P45 first thing
disease of the intestines that the star has been battling for many on Monday morning before heading down to the local Job Centre to sign
years; although he is insistent that the diagnosis hasn’t prevented up for a more conventional occupation.
him from living life to the full.
“When I first started, magic was seen as a dead profession,” he remembers.
“Every day is different. I had a shocking tummy ache this morning “My grandma even now still asks, ‘When are ye going to get a proper job?’
when I woke up. I just came back from South Africa last night so
often when I go on airplanes – especially if it’s a long-haul flight “If I was to do a normal job, I would probably do something in the
entertainment industry, probably a director or something like that. I love
creating amazing visuals.
“Believe it or not, I never wanted to be the centre of attention, so I probably
would have been behind the scenes, doing something else. Maybe a music
video director or something like that,” he muses.
Would his grandmother see that as a proper job, does he think?
“Probably not!” Dynamo laughs. “She’s always going to find some fault,
Sometimes, it seems, even grannies don’t always know what’s best. ITM
Above and left:
Dynamo’s current tour:
Seeing is Believing:
Dynamo Live which
runs at the 3Arena from
March 16–20, with a
matinee on March 20
– photo credits,
Brahim Zaibat at Paris
Fashion Week, 2014