Interview: Dynamo

The street magician discusses his approach to his craft and reveals his celebrity fans

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How did you get your name?

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I was performing in New York in 2001 at a centenary event celebrating Houdini. Halfway through, a guy shouted out: “This kid is an effing dynamo!” And it stuck.

Where’s your top hat, bow tie and magic wand?

I’m from Bradford. I couldn’t afford them. Seriously, I don’t feel like I’m performing; I’m just doing what I do every day. I’ve never wanted to be on stage particularly or thought “that would be good for a show” when I work on my magic.

Is it true Richard Branson bowed down to you?

It is. I’ve got a picture – possibly the only picture on the planet of Richard Branson bowing down to another man. I’d made his watch – and it was a nice watch, as you can imagine – disappear then reappear in my pocket.

Why does heavyweight boxer David Hare say you’re the only person he’s scared of?

Because I took away his strength. He was adamant that I gave it back before his fight. Then he was talking about how he has to relax and really lower his blood pressure before he gets in the ring. “I can do that,” I said, and stopped my pulse. I think it freaked him out a little bit.

You received a loan from the Prince’s Trust in 2003. Have you ever performed for Prince Charles?

I’ve performed at Prince Charles’s house parties on numerous occasions. Prince Charles is actually a member of the Magic Circle, which is a society of magicians. I’m not a member because I try not to mix with too many magicians – I don’t want to be influenced.

Do you have any other celebrity fans?

Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Rihanna… The Kings of Leon kidnapped me after we appeared on a Jonathan Ross show together and I ended up on tour with them for a week. Oh yes, and I levitated Lindsay Lohan, Ian Brown and Matt Lucas.

Your life sounds very glamorous.

It wasn’t always. I had fairly humble beginnings: I grew up on a council estate in Bradford. I was a very small, slender kid because I have Crohn’s disease, which makes eating uncomfortable, so I found it difficult to put on weight. Being a small guy, growing up where I did, I was an easy target. I used magic as a way out.

How?

By distracting people, scaring people, taking away people’s strength. If someone’s got no strength, they can’t lift their arm up to punch you.

When I first started doing it at school, everyone just thought I was a weird kid. I did become a bit of an outsider because of the magic. They didn’t understand it. I’ll always remember my teachers telling me how I’d never make a career out of it!

You’re not the only magician on the box at the moment. How do you compare to Penn and Teller?

Our approaches are very different. They perform tricks, which is different from magic. They’re essentially pulling the wool over people’s eyes, whereas what I do is very real. I’m not saying I’ve got superhuman powers but if I do something, what you see is what you get. I want to open people’s eyes to what’s possible and how little we actually know about the planet; I want to create genuine amazement.

If you could perform magic for anyone, who would you choose?

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I would love to have performed for Michael Jackson. He was a big fan of magic and his people actually contacted me to set up a meeting the next time he was here in London. But of course he never got here. I was gutted.