Tiny magic shop owners real how iconic magician Dynamo still goes home to test new tricks on them!
He may be the UK’s most famous magician but Dynamo still seeks approval from his old masters – testing his tricks on two magic shop owners who taught him some of his first illusions.
Mark Grason and Phil Peters run Merlins of Wakefield, West Yorks, a magic shop that Dynamo would visit as a boy who was ‘barely able to see over the counter’.
Mark, 42, says that back then Dynamo was just a young lad from Bradford called Steven Frayne who would ‘drop cards all over the place’.
And despite now being an award-winning illusionist, Dynamo still returns to Mark’s shop each Christmas to test out his new tricks eager to see if he can fool his old teachers.
Mark, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said: “He always had cards on him and he was always trying to spin them. Whenever he’d come in the shop we were constantly picking up playing cards. You could always tell when Steve had been in because there were cards all over the place.
“He is still just as enthusiastic as when he first got into it. He is always showing off whatever new tricks he has learned, just like he used to as a boy.
“Sometimes he comes in when the shop has closed and he tell us in advance but sometimes he just turns up.
“Once he got mobbed when he turned up unannounced. But he’s always giving out autographs – he’s very generous with his time.
“He still buys stuff in the shop when he’s in. He’s always testing stuff in front of us, to see what will work for his shows.
“When he buys something new he can’t wait to get the wrapper off it. He won’t go home or into the studio. As soon as he’s got a new trick in his hands he’s practising it, looking at it, seeing how he can make it work.
“Despite the mistakes when he was younger, I have not seen him fluff a trick for a very long time. There are no mistakes now as he is such a dedicated performer and never tires of practising until a trick is perfect.
“I have not seen him do a trick wrong since he was a young kid.
“When he was a kid he came in and declared he was going to perfect this trick where he flicked a card out of the deck, kicked it and then it spins back in the deck.
“We all thought it was impossible but he worked on it so hard until he got it. One day he came in and could do it. I wouldn’t even attempt a trick like that. It’s something you thought couldn’t be done but now he can do it every time – that’s his determination.
“I’m proud to know him. When you see somebody come from a housing estate to become the mega-star that he is today, to say you’ve played a tiny part in that, it makes mere really proud.”
The story goes that world-renowned magician learnt his first trick from his great-grandfather to deter the school bullies.
From here, Dynamo began to learn his trade by attending the Magic Academy at Merlins, which has taught budding magicians the art of sleight of hand for over 21 years.
After learning the trade with them, Mark remembers when young Steven would travel to London on a shoestring to perform for the rich and famous to try and get noticed.
He says Dynamo always displayed the ‘determination and drive’ to become a great magician – but he didn’t forget his teachers once he achieved his dream.
In fact, in 2015 the star of Magician Impossible texted Mark and Phil to invite them backstage after a sell-out performance at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Mark said: “We’d watched the show and we’d really enjoyed it; then I got a text. It was Steve saying come to stage left and his manager would take us backstage.
“He took us to Steve’s private room. The first thing Steve wanted to know was ‘did he fool us?’. As massive as he is he’s still eager to please.
“He has a genuine love and passion for the art of magic and wants to do the best he can.”
Mark remembers that Dynamo was always into flashy sleight-of-hand.
His most famous tricks now – making a borrowed mobile phone appear inside a beer bottle, walking on water and changing lottery tickets into money – all started out from an obsession with card magic.
Mark said: “He always loved his card moves – the more complicated the better. It’s always very impressive to see it the same as on TV when he is right in front of you.
“Then he simplified things and went more into commercial effects, and that’s how he blossomed and became the mega-star that he is today. And the rest is history really.”
Dynamo has recently lost his street image to don a snappy suit and tie for his latest stage show.
Mark said: “I think moving in such high social circles turning up in trainers and a baseball cap is probably not acceptable. The suit may not be top hat and tails but he’s still got the edge.
“When you see him on stage there are still bits where he’s got his leather jacket and trainers on – he still keeps it real. He’s still proud of his roots.”