Interview with Dynamo

Dynamo, real name Stephen Frayne, was first on our TV screens six years ago when he made an appearance on Channel 4's 'Richard & Judy' show which was followed by a special episode of 'Dynamo's Estate of Mind' on the same channel.

Since then Dynamo has brought magic and illusions to the masses fascinating us with his every move, combined with hearing about his upbringing and family life with his treasured Nan – it's clear to see although he's very much the stage man, there's much more than meets the eye with this Bradford boy.

K9 Magazine's Kim O'Meara caught up with Dynamo as he introduces us to his beloved dog Bessie while planning his 2015 live UK tour.

Tell us about your dog - we'd like to know everything about her!

Bessie is a seven year old German Shepherd. My wife has had her since she was a puppy, and I've had her since I've had my wife (for want of a better expression) so she's been mine for four years.

She's an amazing dog, I've always loved dogs so when I first went out with my missus and she told me she had a dog I was really pleased. My wife's job means she can work from home so someone's always there with Bessie.

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We have a photo which is of me in bed and her lying on top of me and it's like 'Where's Wally?' but 'Where's Dynamo?' instead because all you can see is my head (laughs).

Bessie's a brilliant dog, she's so soft and has such an expressive face. She's a really playful, big girl and she's so placid. If we're out walking as well, she'll never go too far. She likes to keep an eye on you.

She has her own following as well and people know her by name. I have about 8 million people following me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and sometimes if a friend has taken her for a walk I'll have someone tweet a photo to me saying they've had their photo taken with her.

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Did you grow up with animals at home?

Growing up we had a family dog, a Jack Russell Terrier called Mitzi, but when I left home she stayed with the family. When I was 19, I left to go travelling around America to hone my magician skills so when I came back I could start my career. I went to New Orleans to see the street magicians, and of course Las Vegas.

I was able to fund my expeditions through working for my Nana Lynne for a year. She has 19 award winning Golden Retrievers which she showed, so I helped by grooming them and looking after them. I also did magic tricks at the after parties of the dog shows. One of my favourite dogs of hers was called Tomba, he was just a puppy when I was there and he's won everything now and is a Master. He's even been in TV adverts.

A huge chapter in your life has now finished as Watch recently showed the very last episode of 'Dynamo: Magician Impossible' but as one door closes another opens with your UK tour coming to life next year. What can readers expect to see coming along to one of your shows?

For everyone who's ever watched the TV show, it's a chance to see it first hand. For those who don't necessarily believe, come and see it 'seeing is believing'.

I'm really looking forward to getting on the road. It's a way for me to say thank you to everyone for supporting me over the years.

Will Bessie also be on tour with you (whether making an on stage appearance or behind the scenes)?

(Laughs) Funnily enough our tour rider includes a pet friendly hotel so we can take her with us. I'm also having a trailer so she can be with us at the venue and I'm looking into getting her a pet passport so she can travel abroad with us.

Your magic has fascinated everyone we've spoken to when we've excitedly told them we're featuring you and Bessie this issue. What have been the stand out moments for you in your career so far?

I think people would say walking on the River Thames if you asked them.

For me, it's been a crazy journey over the last 12 years. My top three moments are probably levitating above the Shard in London, walking down a building and walking on the River Thames. They were all iconic moments.

I remember growing up and talking to my Grandpa about magic and speaking about all of these ideas, so I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him and The Prince's Trust.

Also, it was a proper career highlight to be able to do something with Bessie as well. We really enjoyed your photoshoot. It was a lot of fun, I think she thinks she's a model now (laughs).

Ah, thank you! So all of these iconic moments are ideas you and your Grandpa spoke about?

Yes, everything I've done is because of him. He really got me into magic.

I was picked on as a kid growing up and close to our estate there was a dam which they used to put me in. I never learnt to swim until I was 14, so you can imagine what that was like. I remember thinking at the time that if I could walk on the water... – and then I did, the most famous river in the country, the River Thames.

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You once turned lottery tickets into cash for Comic Relief and after the finale of your latest TV show said 'Magic isn't about deception or fakery, it's about doing something that no one thought was possible.'

Wearing another hat on behalf of our dog adoption site (www.dogsblog.com), October was National Dog Adoption Month here in the UK. With over 100,000 dogs in rescues across the UK and more dogs being abandoned year on year – what would you do to help change people's perceptions about dogs in rescue centres (changing the perception from damaged goods, for example, or to think differently) and encourage them to consider adopting a dog.

Bessie isn't from a rescue shelter, she's been in the family for years. But we've discussed potentially getting another dog and the first place we'd head to would be a rescue. There are so many unloved and badly treated animals in these places it only seems right to give them a chance.

You hear about the negative stories the ones that make the paper for freak accidents, but more often than not the well behaved luckier ones don't get that media attention which seems obvious. But its something I would definitely do in the future and I'd encourage other people to do it too because it's such a good cause, you're saving a dogs life and the amount of gratification and pride you get from your dog would be even greater, especially being a dog that you'd just saved and given the  opportunity all dogs deserve. Its got to be a good feeling for both of you really.

All dogs are awesome!

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I've read that your stage name Dynamo came after a reaction from someone in the crowd to an illusion you performed. I'm sure Bessie must have a nickname you've given her (my own dogs have many from habits they've had to shortening of their names) – let us in on Bessie's and if they're unusual, how they came about.

Bessie's nickname is Bessiecakes. I suppose it came from Aunt Bessie's cakes and Yorkshire puddings (laughs). She's been called this ever since she was a puppy and particularly when we're coming home and she's really excited and wants a fuss.

Strangely we say it in that high pitched hyacinth bucket voice like 'Rrrrichard' - it makes her go crazy!

If you were to swap roles with Bessie for a day, how do you think she'd cope being you and what would you love most about being her?

(Laughs) If I could swap roles with Bessie for a day I would most definitely take advantage of the opportunity to take as many naps and treats as I like during the afternoon. It's a dogs life.

If Bessie was spending a day in my shoes, I'm pretty sure she would love exploring all the different places and meeting all the amazing people I come across. She's very inquisitive and loves going on little adventures. I reckon she would think it's cool being able to do magic too! I sometimes do magic to her making her ball or treats disappear and she looks super confused and sniffs really excitedly.

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For this question, we ask our celebs to match up the following people’s personality to a breed of dog, for example, Winston Churchill = Bulldog or J.Lo = Afghan Hound, Frank Bruno = Boxer etc. If the following celebrity dog lovers were breeds of dogs, based on their personalities alone, what type of breed do you think they'd be...

Robbie Williams – He would have to be a British Bulldog. He's a really cheeky chappie and British to the core.

Davina McCall – I really love Davina, I think she'd be an Andrex puppy, but a small one. No, in fact I think she'd be a Labradoodle. She's full of energy and always really happy to see you.

Dynamo – I think I'd be a Puggle because I like the 'pug life' but I'm full of childlike enthusiasm and inquisitive, like a Beagle. I'm always interested in what's going on and I think they're really cute. I'd like to think I'm the same, but as a human (laughs).

Which do you prefer and why?

Big dogs or little dogs – I'd have to say big dogs. Bessie's a big girl and I think because of her size, you feel protected.

(Laughs) Plus, when the winter nights come around and it's a bit colder and the duvet isn't long enough, she's big enough for a cuddle and some warmth.

Pedigree dogs or cross-breeds – I don't have a preference really, I'd say a healthy dog is the best in the world.

Days off or days at work – I love what I do so I like work, but I'd like a few more days off. Or, as an alternative – I'd like more bring your dog to work days.

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Describe the last time you laughed out loud because of something you saw Bessie or another dog do.

Last night I took Bessie out for her walk and it had been raining all day so it was soaking outside. Anyway when I got in I thought I'd go for a towel to dry her off but as soon as we got in she ran straight to my bed and got in. Soaking. She got in the bed, on my spot, soaking.

I couldn't be annoyed though because her face said she knew what she'd done, so I just went and got the towel laughing at her.

Also, the other day we'd got a pizza in the kitchen and had it out defrosting it ready to put in the oven to cook. I'd got some friends coming round and we were all starving. We popped to the shop quickly and when we came back the pizza was gone. The whole thing. The box was in Bessie's bed and she was sheepish.

I don't know how she managed to eat it all. That was a real magic trick.

What is your current favourite…?

TV show – I'm watching a few shows at the moment but I really love Peaky Blinders. I'm just watching the first series through iTunes just now and it's super addictive. I think it's really nice to see a British show on TV as well. A lot of American shows, such as Sons of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire do really well and we'll sometimes just make mini series' here so I'm really enjoying it.

Album – I'm really liking Sia's album '1000 Forms of Fear'.

Film – My all time favourite films are the 'Back to the Future' trilogy. If you made me choose just one then I'd say the second because it features all of the first film in it. It was definitely a film way ahead of it's time, no pun intended. It was super modern and I think would still be considered the same way if it was released now.

Tell us something no one else knows about you.

Apart from growing up with our family dog, Mitzi, which I don't think many people will know. I also had a hamster and growing up had one of those cages you build parts on so it ended up going all round my bedroom. And I had two rabbits which I got about six or seven years ago, one called Dyna and one called Mo. Dyna died recently but Mo's still going strong.

Growing up, from about four years old, I also went and helped fetching eggs from my Grandpa's hen run while talking to him about magic.

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If you could sum it up, what do you think is the best thing about being a dog owner?

I think it has to be that feeling you get when you get home and it doesn't matter what kind of day you've had or where you've been, they're there ready to shower you with love and they know exactly how to cheer you up.

It's also the companionship they give you. I know having a child is one thing, but the responsibility I feel for Bessie is like she's my daughter.

(Laughs) I do talk to her as well like she's a person, but she never answers back.

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Finish the following sentence, my dog is...the most magical dog in the world. She's definitely man's best friend, she has a think for men and flirts with them all the time.

And finally, this is always a tough question and often requires a fair degree of thinking time but….If Bessie had the ability to speak and answer one question and one question only, what would you ask her and what do you think that she would say?

If Bessie could speak she would sound like Scooby Doo - we say it all the time. She tilts her head and makes that Scooby confused noise, it's really silly.

We always think to ourselves what are you thinking about Bessie because she sometimes stares at us with this funny expression we can't figure out.

So we'll often ask her 'what are you thinking Bess???' and we chuckle to ourselves imagining she would say something really wise and solemn in response.

Bessie's a really impressive dog to look at and communicate with so her saying something dignified just seems about right, but in a Scooby Doo voice. (Laughs) It's quite funny thinking about it.

Many Thanks Dynamo!

Dynamo Was Speaking With Kim O'Meara

Find out more about Dynamo's 2015 UK tour at www.dynamomagician.com

 

K9 Magazine’s Thanks Go To…

Equus Leather – For Their Handmade Plain Leather Dog Collar & Lead Set

Pet Munchies – For Their Premium, Gourmet Dog Treats

The Company of Animals – For Their Fantasy Flyer, Nina Ottoson Dog Tornado & Tuffy Turkey Dog Toy

Urban Pup – For Their Designer Leather Collars, Jacket & Sweaters

Photography by Tony Blake, shot at Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath, assisted by George Duerden.

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