Dynamo: Doing magic helped me beat the bullies

Dynamo (aka Stephen Frayne) is at the forefront of a new breed of magician – someone who carries out amazing tricks and illusions on a scale we’ve never seen before. His most famous trick is walking across the River Thames and, as two new Christmas specials are about to hit our screens, Dynamo, 30, tells us about life as a magician and how practicing magic helped to wipe out the memories of being bullied at school.


by Paul Hirons |
Published on

Your ticks are generally incredible, how do you dream them up and how long do they take to plan?

A lot of them come through life experiences. The way I approach my magic is ask what the every day man wants to do. I’ll be in a bar and people will set me challenges. It could be something like getting a girl’s phone number for my mate. They're always asking me to do that! So I do my magic to do that. Or it could be that someone asks me to give them the winning lottery numbers or could I predict which football team is going to win the European Championships. I actually did that in one of my shows, and I gave the money I won to charity. If the magic can benefit other people more than me, then that’s what I like to do. The walking on the water trick also came from a life experience. Not many people know this but I was bullied a lot at school. I lived on an estate in Bradford and the neighbouring estate was separated by a dam. I used to get thrown into the dam by kids who called themselves my friends – they protected me from other kids, but that made them think they had the right to bully me. I didn’t know how to swim (I learnt when I was 13), and when I was 10 they threw me in the dam… for fun. Because I couldn’t swim I was flapping around. Back then I always wished I could walk on the water. It was just an idea back then but I wanted to make it happen. It’s always been at the back of my mind. I watch a lot of movies – especially superhero movies – and a lot of my ideas come from them. Some of their abilities that they create with special effects, but I want to recreate them without the aid of special effects.

You perform for a lot of celebs…

Yeah, I do. The celebrities are cool, but you can’t beat the feeling of just being on the street with normal people and creating these moments. I just explain how I feel. It’s a rush that takes over my body.

But you’re so cool when you do your tricks. You just quietly walk away when everyone’s freaking out…

After the piece of magic is performed I like to leave it with them. I studied a lot of magicians when I was growing up and the emphasis was to bring the light back onto the magician. For me, without the spectators the magic is nothing. Magic’s an emotion you can bring out in people. Some of the best reactions from people where after the cameras were rolling.

**I’ll be in a bar and people will set me challenges. It could be something like getting a girl’s phone number for my mate. They're always asking me to do that! **

You’ve got lots of celeb friends… do you get starstruck?

No, not really, but when I did some filing with Samuel L Jackson I got a little bit starstruck because he’s such a legend.

Is there a celeb you’d like to perform with?

It’d be really cool to get Eminem on the show. I’m a huge fan of his and he’s got a new album out, so you never know!

Do you have any heroes when it comes to magic?

My biggest inspiration was my grandpa, who taught me tricks. But over the years, I’ve become huge fans of David Blaine, Derren Brown, Houdini, David Copperfield and a few other people who are less well known. There’s a British magician I really like called David Berglas, who was the biggest magician in the UK in the 1960s.

You’re a proud son of Bradford and your family is important to you. Where would you rather be, Bradford or LA?

I think Bradford to be honest. Well, definitely England. All my family and friends are scattered up and down the country, so I can’t really say one place. But on the whole I much prefer the UK to America.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?

I’d probably say my iPad. That’s what I watch all my films on and plan all my magic tricks on there. My whole life is on there! My schedule, my diary… it really keeps me on track.

What do people say to you when you pop down the shops? Do people expect tricks all the time?

Oh yeah! I guarantee you that within five minutes of leaving the house someone will ask me to do some magic. I’m always happy to chat with them although I may not always have the time to do some magic for them. It’s the biggest compliment when someone wants to see your work.

What do you do to wind down at home?

I like to go for drives. I love driving. I’ll have the music loud. I’ll just download loads of music and drive for hours. Sometimes I’ll get to drive on a track day. Later in life – if I can ever get insured – I’d love to be a stunt driver for movies.

What will you be doing for Christmas?

December is always busy for me because I do a lot of gigs and Christmas parties. I know I’ve got a gig on Boxing Day. But then I’m going to head to New York straight after, and spend New Year’s Eve there.

What does Dynamo want for Christmas?

Oh, just good viewing figures for my specials on Watch!

**Dynamo Top Ten Greatest Moments: Thurs 12 Dec, 9pm, Watch


Dynamo Revealed: Thurs 19 Dec, 9pm, Watch

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