Magic born out of illness
WHEN severe illness left him bedridden, Dynamo feared he would never be able to perform magic again.
The UK magician, who rose to fame with his award-winning TV series Magician Impossible, was hospitalised almost three years ago when a bout of food poisoning was complicated by his existing Crohn’s disease.
He then developed reactive arthritis, and was put on high doses of steroids to treat his swollen and painful joints.
His new TV documentary Beyond Belief chronicles his long journey from sudden illness to his recovery and triumphant career return.
“The fact I am able to perform magic again is a dream for me. When I was told I might not be able to do it any more my whole reality just changed,” he says.
“I’ve never been a defeatist, so after wallowing in the depression of it for a little while I ended up thinking ‘OK if I can’t physically perform the way I used to, what if I perform in a new style and put the magic in the audience’s hands?’”
Dynamo, real name Steven Frayne, created more than 200 new magic ideas sketched from his hospital bed.
“Those ideas wouldn’t have come about if I wasn’t in hospital,” he says. “Because I had to go so long without my skill set I spent years developing, it forced me to develop a new skill set and in some ways I am stronger than I was before … I turned my disabilities in to superpowers.”
But just as Beyond Belief was about to premiere, the 37-yearold was dealt another cruel blow last month when he contracted coronavirus.
“The medications I take wipe out my immune system, so I’m in that high-risk category. There were two weeks where I was stuck in bed and my body wasn’t in a good way,” he says. “The virus exacerbated my existing conditions but I haven’t had it nowhere near as bad as other people. It’s a nasty disease and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
But the reaction to the series is lifting his spirits as he recovers and he hopes it inspires others to make the best of a challenging situation.
“It’s been the boost I needed,” he says. “Everybody goes through adversity, and right now the entire world is turned upside down. If anything is taken away from my story it’s that you can’t take things for granted.
“Right now the world, in some ways, is more connected than it ever has been. It’s so unfortunate the tragedy going on, but it’s also bringing the community spirit together.”
The three-part series culminates in the riskiest stunt he has ever attempted.
“If you imagine some of the things I did in Magician Impossible, like walking across the Thames, it’s on that scale and I think everyone’s going to love it,” he says. “Honestly this show means more to me than any magic I’ve ever done in my entire life.
“Hitting rock bottom and nearly losing it all gave me that reinvigoration I needed to fall back in love with the thing that got me through everything.”
Dynamo: Beyond Belief airs Saturdays at 7.30pm on SBS. It’s also available to stream on SBS On Demand.
UK magician Dynamo's new TV special Beyond Belief chronicles his battle with Crohn's disease. He was also recently diagnosed with Covid-19.
Dynamo went public with his battle with Crohn's disease two years ago when the condition flared up (left).
Dynamo, real name Steven Frayne, is an expert in close-up magic tricks.