The video shows two police officers, fully armed, watching as the young man calmly steps in front of them. From off-screen someone blows bubbles, and the man casually stretches out his hand to pop them. But his next move leaves both cops shaking their heads in amazement.
The man in the video is Julius Dein, a 24-year-old British street magician and social media star. He was visiting the city of Newcastle in northern England to show some of his best tricks to members of the public. And Dein subsequently posted a compilation video of highlights to his YouTube channel, where he has more than half a million subscribers.
The video, entitled “How to impress a girl with magic tricks,” shows Dein performing some of his favorite illusions. In one scene, he transforms a £10 note into a credit card. Later in the video, he turns a packet of M&Ms into Skittles, as two young women look on disbelievingly.
It’s just one of many online videos starring Dein, who was born in London in 1994. In an interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Dein revealed that his interest in magic began when he was just ten years old, after he went with his grandpa to see a show by the Young Magicians Club. Even though he was still at school, Dein soon began performing his own tricks.
As a teenager, Dein was showing off his magic tricks in London’s Camden Town when an audience member approached him to ask whether he performed at parties. “I printed off some paper business cards and handed them out at a 40th birthday party,” Dein explained. “Business just spiraled.”
After leaving school, Dein proceeded to study at King’s College London. And as part of his International Relations degree, he spent a year studying abroad at UCLA. Incredibly, Dein went on to perform for stars including Katy Perry and Kelly Rowland during his time in the U.S.
It was while he was in Los Angeles that Dein started to upload videos to social media. And in just two years, he’s already gained 20 million followers. Thousands subscribe to his YouTube channel, where he posts footage of his impressive street magic tricks including the “invisible chair.”
Dein is also known for his pranks and social experiments. In one of his videos, which has more than 900,000 views, he can be seen trying to convince music fans that a pair of electric toothbrush heads can be used in place of Apple earbuds. Some of them are duped by the trick and can even be seen inserting the objects into their ears.
In another video, Dein carried out a “homophobia experiment” on the London Underground. He asked two friends to pose as a gay couple while he shouted offensive slurs, in a bid to test how people would react. Several commuters can be seen standing up to Dein, with some even telling him to get off the train and leave his fellow passengers alone.
Another of Dein’s social experiments sees him on the streets of Brixton in south London, trying to hold the hands of strangers. Filmed while he was still at university, the prank tests people’s reactions to a seemingly harmless gesture. Dein told TalkRadio, “It’s such an innocuous action, and it expresses the natural human reaction.”
In Dein’s video, some people are confused or find the prank funny once they realize they’re being filmed. But others respond angrily. The magician told the London Evening Standard at the time, “There were scary moments. That’s what drives the prank.”
But in an interview with Jewish News in 2017, Dein revealed that he planned to move away from prank videos and instead concentrate more on magic tricks. While saying that the pranks had been a hit with younger audiences and had helped him to grow his social media fan base, Dein stated that his “real passion” still lay with magic.
And his latest video in Newcastle, England, is definitely more concerned with light-hearted tricks and illusions. Dein can be seen impressing members of the public by effortlessly hooking a key onto a piece of string, producing a Rubik’s Cube from thin air and making a coin pass through a girl’s top as she looks on incredulously.
Dein has said that he first began performing magic because he enjoys this type of startled response. In an interview with Business Insider, he stated that the reactions to his tricks were “like a drug.” Dein added, “I love pushing the boundaries of possibility.”
Occasionally, some of his stunts will go slightly wrong, however. In the Newcastle video, Julius can be seen inserting a coin into a box of Tic Tacs, only for the lid to almost immediately fall off. But he reacts with characteristic good humor, still managing to leave his audience laughing.
Dein says he was inspired by performers such as David Blaine during his younger years. But it was the rise of YouTube and other online outlets that made him decide on a different path. Dein told Jewish News, “Seeing people making careers out of magic and social media inspired me to move in that direction.”
In a 2017 YouTube interview, Dein said that magic was his way of communicating. “I think that’s why people fall in love with magic and become magicians,” he explained. “Because they can relate to people and talk to people in a way that’s very unique.”
Dein also uploads videos of his tricks to Instagram, where he has more than three million followers. He says the majority of his fans are based in the U.S. and Mexico, and some of his recent posts show him entertaining crowds in Hawaii and Mexico City. Nonetheless, he told British newspaper the Evening Chronicle that Newcastle had been an “awesome” place to show off his tricks.
Dein has previously said that bringing magic to an online audience can be a difficult task. He told Business Insider, “Magic isn’t very cool… it’s difficult to make it relatable.” But as his latest video shows, the young magician has plenty of tricks up his sleeve to keep audiences entertained.