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HIs repute is probably more embedded among British fans, but Dynamo (real name Steven Frayne) is gradually attracting a larger international following thanks to his TV shows exposing his talent to a stupefied audience.
Having officially joined The Magic Circle, an exclusive magicians society, last year, Dynamo continues to create waves with more TV appearances and stunts and, in so doing, has impressed the likes of Will Smith and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who praised Dynamo for “the greatest magic I’ve seen”.
So is the “community” supportive or more competitive?
“There are loads of young kids getting into magic. There’s always going to be green-eyed monsters when it comes to any career. If you begin to become successful in anything you do, people will always want to be where you are. You have to rise above it and try to focus on what you are doing only.”
Competitiveness aside, he does adhere to the Magician’s Code and won’t reveal the secrets behind his tricks.
Currently in Discovery Channel’s Dynamo: Mission Impossible, the UK-born magician says, “The show follows me on my adventures everywhere I go. But it also shows how I got into magic – or how I fell into it – after being picked on by some school bullies.
“My grandpa wasn’t a magician, but he knew a few tricks and showed me a way of taking away the bullies’ strength, which I did. I didn’t want to be seen as this scared little boy.”
The four-part serious took four months to shoot, with nature not playing ball several times.
His favourite episode was the one shot in Miami.
“You’re surrounded by girls, you’re on the beach and the sun is shinning. Miami is always good fun. Everyone there is having a good time. When you’re somewhere like in the UK or Austria, you’re on the street where it’s really cold and you could borrow their goggles to do a trick, whereas when it’s just people on a beach in swimwear, it makes it harder.
“One woman in Miami had a tan line, so I moved it around her body and it was a really good way of using the disadvantages to my advantage. I want the magic to be organic, improvised and spontaneous. Without the element of surprise, there is no magic!”
On the stunt that required the most effort, he says, “Mentally, it was walking over the River Thames as it took six years from me first thinking about it. I want people to see it as spontaneous and the people who were at the Thames on that day were the ones who got to see it.
“Magic in general is universal, but the reactions are always different. In England people are a lot more reserved, but when they see something truly amazing, they’re not afraid to show it. In America, people are a lot more outspoken. And they’re not shy about coming forward, which is good.”
On people’s growing appetite for magical feats, he says, “I think the media is picking up on it a bit more and it’s starting to come back on the screens again. The old way of viewing magic was a little clichéd – the top hat and the coat-tails, bunny rabbits, etc. And it’s moved on from the stage a bit more thanks to things like the internet. It’s evolved and become fresh again.”
An admirer of David Copperfield’s flying acts and his stunt in which he made the Statue of Liberty disappear, Dynamo is carving his own path. He is introducing hip hop into his acts that includes his card tricks and his Matrix-style levitation, among other jaw-dropping, bordering on implausible, feats.
He says, “Not just hip hop, but rock and the music scene in general. I like good music… whatever it is. Hip hop, though, does come with many elements – the dancing, the beat, the visuals – so it’s a no-brainer to combine them together. I didn’t really think about it; it just happened naturally.”
To get the full spectrum of Dynamo’s pioneering magical exploits, it is perhaps best to watch him in action in his show.
• Dynamo: Magician Impossible is on Discovery Channel (DStv Channel 121) at 8.30pm on Wednesdays.