Illusionist Dynamo spoke to me for OK! magazine about his ongoing personal struggles and the love of his life, wife Kelly…
He’s walked on water, levitated above The Shard and wowed A-listers with his mind-blowing tricks. Now Dynamo is making history as the first magician to headline at London’s O2 Arena, as part of his current UK tour, Seeing Is Believing.
He hit the big time three years ago performing street magic on his TV show Dynamo: Magician Impossible. But he’d already gathered a star following after persuading the likes of Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Snoop Dogg to appear on his self-made 2005 DVD Underground Magic. He now counts Formula 1 ace Lewis Hamilton and the One Direction boys as friends, and boasts David Beckham and Prince Charles among his famous fans.
Dynamo – real name Steven Frayne – has overcome a mountain of hurdles to get where he is today. With his late father in and out of prison, he was raised by his mum and his great-grandparents. It was his late Grandpa Ken who first taught Dynamo magic tricks to save him from bullies in his hometown of Bradford.
Aged 15, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – the reason for his slight eight-stone frame. Enduring long stays in hospital, he eventually underwent a life-threatening operation to remove part of his small colon, which left him temporarily debilitated. ‘I had to learn to walk again,’ he recalls. ‘I couldn’t even pick my legs up.’ Today, at 33, he still lives with constant pain and sticks to a restrictive diet. ‘I can’t eat any vegetables or fruit,’ he explains. ‘It’s a boring diet but it keeps me healthy.’
On a happier note, the magician married his girlfriend Kelly four years ago and the couple live in London with their dog Bessie, a seven-year-old German Shepherd, and are planning to have ‘some mini Dynamos’ in the future.
Here, Dynamo – who’s created a series of brain-teasing images to mark the launch of the new Samsung phones – tells OK! about his painful stage show, his dreams of becoming a dad and the reason he’s so fearless…
How’s your tour been going?
Amazing. The show is dedicated to my grandpa who died in 2012. My awesome grandma does some magic on stage every night and she often steals the show. I love my nana.
Do you have to be physically fit for a tour like this?
I train five days a week to build up my core strength. It’s a bit like boxer training for a fight. Some of the things I do in the show are dangerous and some are painful to endure. When I was first preparing for the tour I wasn’t so disciplined and on the first night I put my back out completely.
Is it tougher to train when you suffer from Crohn’s?
It’s more difficult to get the goodness your body needs. I can’t eat any vegetables or fruit and I can’t even take supplements, so I have to have vitamin injections.
Are you scared of dying as a result of one of your more dangerous stunts?
I take calculated risks but I’m not really scared of anything – except sharks.
Has your wife ever told you not to do a stunt?
I don’t think she’d ever tell me not to do things, but when I levitated above The Shard she wouldn’t watch. She gets too nervous.
How did you two meet?
We met nearly five years ago at V Festival and we haven’t stopped speaking to each other every single day since. I’m very fortunate to be married to the most amazing person. She’s my best friend as well as my lover. I’ve finally got someone to share these amazing experiences with.
Would you like to be a dad one day?
I’d love to be a dad – there’s got to be some mini Dynamos – but I’m still young. For now, we treat our dog Bessie like our child. I think being a dad will be my toughest challenge to date.
What would you like to give your kids that you didn’t have yourself?
I want to be the best dad ever and just to be there for my child. That’s why I’ll wait until I can wind down my career a bit. I didn’t really have a dad. I never let it hold me back and in a weird way I didn’t miss it because I didn’t know any different.
You only met your dad twice – how did it feel to learn of his death on Twitter?
It was weird. I didn’t feel sad – I almost got closure. I’m glad I met him but I didn’t have him around enough to miss him when he was gone.
Which celebrity dad is good role model?
Chris Martin – he’s the full package. I met his daughter Apple and she’s obviously been raised really well by Chris and Gwyneth [Paltrow].
David Beckham is a big fan of yours – has he become a friend?
I was in a commercial with him but we never hung out much. I met his sons Romeo and Cruz at the Formula 1 recently and they asked for a selfie. It was weird, because they’re two of the most famous kids in the world!
You hang out with One Direction – have you met Louis Tomlinson’s son Freddie yet?
No, but I am friends with all of the boys. The last time I saw Zayn [Malik, who’s also from Bradford] he was pushing my car when it got stuck in the snow. I couldn’t be bothered to use my magic to get me free that day!
Which celebrity intimidated you the most?
If you grew up on the council estate I lived on and had to deal with some of the bullying I went through, then none of these celebrities will ever be as scary as the shady characters I encountered.
What’s the worst bullying incident that sticks in your mind?
When I was 15 these two kids used to throw me in the dam next to our estate and hold my head under water. I couldn’t swim and it was petrifying. That’s what inspired me to walk on water.
What inspired you to create the seven everyday illusions for Samsung Galaxy?
I’m always trying to think of ways to capture the magic in a photo so I combined some
magical techniques and props to create images that look like I’m doing things that are ridiculously impossible.
Which is your favourite image?
The one where I look like I’m about to devour a London bus [below]. We used a toy London bus and made a fake street, which I then knelt over. If you just use your imagination, you can create amazing magical illusions.