Of scorpions and defying fear: How celebrity magician Dynamo sketched 200 tricks from his hospital bed

In 2018, Steven Frayne aka Dynamo was faced with a difficult situation. Hospitalised due to the complications arising from Crohn’s disease, he had to find ways for his magic to survive. In conversation with YSWeekender, he reveals how he managed to thrive even at the height of a health scare.

What if an athlete is told that he can’t run again? Or a surgeon, performing life-saving miracles each day, is told that he doesn’t have full control over his hands? These are instances of life-altering events, and only a fortunate few can tread their way through these obstacles without losing themselves.

In 2018, Steven Frayne aka Dynamo was faced with a similar situation. Hospitalised and bedridden due to complications arising from Crohn’s disease – an illness he has been struggling with since his teenage years – the celebrated British magician and illusionist was left with the possibility of not being able to perform magic again.

British magician Dynamo's new show airs on History TV18

At the time, he tells us, he even battled the treacherous thought that this might be the end of his career. But as time tells us, and as it is evident from his subsequent journey, his fears were far from the truth.

Dynamo has not only had a successful recovery; he is also back on his feet now. And with his latest offering, Dynamo: Beyond Belief, a three-part miniseries on History TV18 which documents his journey – starting from a career-threatening illness to sketching over 200 ideas from the hospital bed – the illusionist is all set to win over fans with mystifying acts of magic.

These include some fear-defying tricks as well, involving scorpions and revving cars on the streets of Tokyo.

YSWeekender caught up with the British magician and in an exclusive interview, he spoke about his TV show, and how he got into the field of magic and the mysterious world of illusion...

Edited excerpts from the interview:

YSW: ‘Dynamo: Beyond Belief’ is on air – are you excited? What do you wish viewers and fans take away from this show?

Dynamo: I’m super excited for everyone in India to see Dynamo: Beyond Belief. It’s been a few years since I’ve been on TV and I believe I am back with the best magic I have ever done. I can’t wait to see the reaction it gets! The show really gives the audience an insight into my personal struggles and how I was able to overcome them and create something special despite the setbacks. I hope it inspires others going through hard times to persevere and stay positive.

YSW: Please share a sneak peek into the series. How much of it is magic and how much will it be about your life and journey?

D: It’s really personal this time. I feel I give you a chance to look behind the curtains and get closer to me at a deeper level, which in turn should allow us to have a more meaningful connection. I came up with the magic whilst in my hospital bed and you get to see how I was able to bring these ideas to life.

YSW: What was the biggest challenge getting back into the groove, filming for this show?

D: At the beginning of my illness I was told I may never be able to perform magic again. It was scary! Probably my biggest fear. It caused me to re-evaluate my whole approach to life and magic. The chain of events I believe made me a better person and performer.

YSW: What was your biggest takeaway from this experience? How has it affected you as a person and also in the professional realm?

D: It has definitely made me appreciate the simple things in life and shown me that you can’t take things for granted. It was a humbling experience. I’m just so happy that Dynamo: Beyond Belief became a reality. There was definitely a time when I thought my career was over.

YSW: Let’s rewind a bit. Take us back in time, what inspired you to take up magic and illusion?

D: I got into magic by accident, my grandpa used to show me simple magic when I was a child but I never saw myself ever doing it. I was getting bullied at school and grandpa showed me a technique to stop the bullies from being able to push me around. It worked and they left me alone. My grandpa then took me under his wing and showed me other magic tricks and I’ve been doing them ever since.

YSW: Were you ever discouraged from making a career out of this art? How did you stay focussed through all your experiences?

D: A lot of people, even my mum and grandma were dubious about me trying to make magic my career. For a few years, I tried to toe the line and even went to college to get a degree, to get a more stable profession. But I knew deep down that magic was what I wanted to do.

I had a brief stint in a hospital where I nearly died. I had to have an abscess removed from my bowel that changed everything. If I had died, then I would have spent most of my life doing things other people had wanted me to do. I decided that once I got better, I was going to dedicate my life to magic and I haven’t looked back.

YSW: Tell us about some of your most memorable performances.

D: Filming in Varanasi during Holi festival for Magician Impossible was one of my career highlights. It was such an incredible backdrop for magic and there was definitely something mystical about this ancient city. Hopefully in the future I can come back to India and perform for everyone live.

YSW: When was the last time you visited India? What did you love most about this country?

D: I’ve been so lucky to have filmed in the most incredible places. For my new show, we filmed in Japan, Russia, Mexico, America, London and Dubai. The last time I came to India was a couple of years ago to perform at a private event, I remember it well because at the event I got to meet and do magic for the legendary Shah Rukh Khan.

YSW: Are you planning to come back anytime soon?

D: I really hope to be able to tour India in the future.

YSW: What would you advise young people aspiring to follow in your footsteps?

D: If you are passionate about something, I believe you should pursue it, practise and work hard at it and it will show. But most importantly, enjoy yourself, as if you enjoy what you are doing and then others will too.

Edited by Asha Chowdary