Steven Frayne, A.K.A Dynamo, has baffled the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Gwyneth Paltrow and Will Smith. Tonight he has come to Strathclyde Union to perform his legendary magic tricks. Standing outside The Barony where a massive crowd has gathered to watch him perform, one such student walks out, his hands trembling slightly as he tightly grasps a playing card in his hand, clearly still lost in disbelief from the magic act he has just witnessed.
I wait upstairs on Level 7 in the Telegraph office with Nadia, our Editor, for my chance to interview the famous magician. I find that I am feeling an odd mixture of nervous excitement and mild panic. This man just a couple of months ago seemingly walked on water across the River Thames. He has levitated Lindsay Lohan off her seat and has made paper butterflies come to life and fly around a room. I find myself considering the possibility that these are not magic tricks at all and I am actually about to meet some unearthly supernatural being.
It’s when I finally walk into the interview room that I get my first real sight of Dynamo, who is sitting at the table with his management team, tweeting on one of his iPhones (he has two, one intact, the other’s screen looks like it’s been smashed off a rock) and drinking a cup of milky tea. He seems relaxed and despite my prior theories, looks very much like a normal human being.
As I hear myself, and the others who have joined me, being introduced by Phil, the Union’s Entertainment Manager (you may know him better as DJ Phil from TFI), I try my best to look calm. My heart rate has now accelerated to an almost uncomfortable pace. We then take our seats around the table where complimentary cokes and fruit sit waiting. Dynamo flashes us a warm smile, and after he has finished tweeting his fans, turns to face me.
I start by asking him how old he was when he first realized he had an unusual gift for magic tricks; “I got into it when I was about eleven years old.” He tells me and instantly the chatter around us dies as everyone turns to listen, “My Grandpa showed me a way to take away some guys strength, cause these guys were putting me in a bin and throwing me down the hill.” I realize he is referring to some of the mobs from Bradford’s notorious Delph Hill Estate where he grew up, it is also known as one of the most violent and deprived estates in the north of England.
He continues, “He showed me how to take away their strength so they couldn’t pick me up. And that was the first time I ever did anything, but I think I got pretty good at it.” When he says ‘take away their strength’ he means it literally. I have to fight the urge to ask if I can have a go at lifting him -he’s not much bigger than me- but I assume he must get pretty tired of people asking him that.
He explains that it was through this ability to stop people picking him up that word spread about him, “people heard about this crazy thing and eventually people wanted to see me do things. So I just started working on it and building it into what it is now.”
I ask him if he ever wondered back then if it would become a career for him. “Not really,” He replies, “I wanted to be superman when I was a kid. Technically it’s kind of a similar type of job, I do crazy things. Apart from I don’t really save peoples lives and I don’t wear my underpants on the outside of my trousers.”
He then tells me where he got his stage name Dynamo, “I was performing in New York,” He explains, “it was a hundred years since Houdini had died and they made some commemorative material like stamps and posters and that for him. I did a bit of a performance there, and all the top magicians like David Blaine, David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy were there. About half way through my performance one of the guys shouted out ‘this kid’s a fucking Dynamo’ and that’s kinda where it came from.”
Feeling a little more relaxed now and seeming to forget that a room full of people are watching us, I then ask him about his notorious walk across the River Thames and inquire what was going through his head as he attempted that mind-boggling stunt.
“Well first off, I was thinking I should have paid more attention in swimming lessons. I’m not the best swimmer. When I did the first steps there were only 50 people around but by the time I’d got near the middle of the River Thames and looked around there was about a few thousand people there, just on the river bank, and then I was a bit like a rabbit in headlights. Then the cops came and spoiled my fun and threw me in the boat.” He pauses for a moment before summarizing, “It was good; it was scary, I wouldn’t recommend it!”
I mention the amount of media attention that particular stunt prompted and ask him if he ever reads the debates and theories as to how he performs his tricks. He responds, “people obviously send them to me and I do my Twitter and my Facebook and I get loads of random stuff sent there. I just reply ‘we are not the same. I am a Martian’ ” I know he’s only joking but I find myself believing it. What other explanation can there be?
We then chat about his show at the Union tonight and he reveals that most of the time he improvises his acts, “a lot of it I make up as I go along.” He elaborates on this and explains, “I like to take things that are around me, like a ninja, using his surroundings to attack. I like to use things and borrow things off people like their own personal possessions and create magic that’s really intimate so that it will be memorable for them.” I remember the boy I saw earlier with the card clutched tightly in his hands and think he’s achieved exactly that.
As my interview with Dynamo draws to a close I ask one last question, inquiring if there was any celebrity he would like to perform a trick for but hadn’t had the chance to yet, to which he quickly responds, “I like to perform for anybody really.” Which I know is true, you only need to YouTube him to see pages of uploaded videos of him happily performing tricks for fans.
He even gladly agrees to grace us with a few exclusive tricks and we watch in sheer astonishment as he makes a 10p coin, with mine and Nadia’s initials scrawled on top, vanish inside an unopened coke can (of course chosen at random). He then opens it and pours out the coke into three glasses and shows us our 10p rattling inside it. Have you ever tried to fit a 10p coin into a coke can? Let alone an unopened one. To top it off he then levitates the can in front of us.
For one last trick we watch, as he appears to bite a 50p coin in half, before showing it reappear again fully intact. It leaves us sitting there speechless, with the only question running through our heads: How?
As we wrap up he adds, “I think it would be cool to perform for Eminem at some point. He’s very into his comic book heroes”
By Stephanie Withers
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