Dynamo: Meet the man behind the magic
The Yorkshire-born magicial Steven Frayne, AKA Dynamo tells Neil Hudson how he got into magic and why he's up for the next Bond film.
It’s refreshing to find a celebrity who has retained his Yorkshire accent. When it comes to A-list stars who are still quite down to earth, Steven Frayne, whose stage name is Dynamo, has to be one of them.
These days he’s a household name - his TV show Magician Impossible, is currently being re-screened by the BBC on Saturdays, something he’s quite proud about.
“It’s unusual for that to happen,” says the 33-year-old, who grew up in Bradford. “Normally, shows go from the BBC onto the satellite channels but this one is coming the other way and I think that’s a first.”
Presently, he’s in the middle of a mammoth UK tour and when I speak to him on the phone, he’s in a hotel in Liverpool, having just completed his 86th show out of 113.
“Things are pretty hectic at the moment, I don’t get a chance to stop, I’m in the middle of the tour right now. From here we go to Belfast, then Dublin, the Leeds, later on I’ll be taking the show to London and I will be the first magician to headline at the O2, before we finish the tour in Manchester. Then, I might get a day off.”
Of course, his life wasn’t always this busy.
Growing up on the streets of Bradford - he attended Wyke Manor and Wyke Middle schools - he recalls how a series of tough experiences ended up leading him into the world of magic.
“I was a small kid from a mixed background, a single parent family, we weren’t rich by any standards and I used to get picked on a lot. I was an easy target. One day my [late] grandad Ken was picking me up from school and he happened to see some lads picking on me. They picked me up and put me inside a wheelie bin and then dragged it to the top of the school hill and rolled me down. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience.”
It was what happened next that changed Steven’s life forever.
“My grandad always used to do a bit of magic when I was growing up but after he saw what happened, he showed me a technique to basically remove people’s strength. I never thought it would work, to be honest I thought I might end up in even more trouble but the next day at school, I tried it on the bullies and to my surprise, it worked.”
Steven’s grandfather passed away on February 29, 2012 (a leap year, meaning this year is the first he has been able to mark the actual date) but he says he wouldn’t be where he is today if it hadn’t been for him.
“Obviously, my grandad got me into magic. He was always doing things like that when I was growing up and he’s my super hero in many ways.
“From doing that and stopping guys giving me trouble at school, to take the things he showed me over the years and turn them into a performance at the level where I am now touring the world and playing arenas across the country, that’s amazing.
“I’m doing shows in venues where people like Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber perform.... so far, of this tour, there has been over a 250,000 people come to the shows and we’ve sold over 400,000 tickets Without my granddad, none of this would have happened.”
But it’s not just his late grandfather who had an effect on him. Viewers of his show will also be familiar with his grandma, Nellie Walsh, whom he says appears on his stage with him.
“She’s 86 and she comes on and does a cameo the show. She’s never phased, I have taught her a little bit of magic but to be honest, I think she knows more than she’s letting on. She’s very hard to impress.”
Midway through his UK tour, Steven is still coming up with ideas for new ventures.
“I’ve got some ideas for TV shows, I think there’s a demand for it, especially given the BBC have begun re-screening Magician Impossible. And I’d like to take this tour abroad at some point because the TV show already goes to 187 countries.”
When I ask him if he’d like to branch out further, perhaps into movies, he’s enthusiastic.
“I could be a good James Bond. I’m just putting it out there. If they ever want to change the actor, I’m up for it.
“It would be interesting to do films, something like the Fast & Furious. If I could have another dream job - not that I don’t already have one - it would be something like a stunt car driver. I would do a wicked James Bond car chase. I love driving on the track on my days off.”
Mostly, however, when he does get a free day, he says he likes to spend it with his wife, whom he’s keen to keep out of the limelight, and his pet German Shepherd dog, Bessie. “I love to just be at home doing all the odd jobs or going for long walks in the park. I don’t really get much time off at the moment.”
That’s because, most of the time, he’s performing - it’s a work ethic which has seen him become one of the top magicians in the world, rivalling even the likes of David Blaine and Derren Brown.
“We’ve met,” he interjects when I mention the name. “He came to the show and we talked backstage. He said it was very good. I do some of the things that Derren does in terms of the mind-reading side of things but Derren is the true master of that. Let’s just say if there was a staring contest between me and him, it would last a long time.”
Remarkably, when I ask Steven who his magic heroes are, one name looms larger than anyone else.
“Paul Daniels,” he says without hesitation. “People forget how good he was. These days he’s remembered for his catchphrases and particular style and maybe that wouldn’t work today but in his day, he was one of the best magicians this country has ever seen.”
He adds: “Leeds is the closest to my home town, I spent most of my time busking in the bars in Leeds right near where the venue is. It’s amazing to be headlining shows at the arena.”
Steven Frayne was born in December 1982 - the only year US magician David Copperfield did not produce a TV show during that decade
The stage name Dynamo was coined by a member of the public in New York in 2001, who stood up and said ‘This kid’s a dynamo’ - the name stuck
He will appear at Leeds FD Arena on March 23 and 24