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Fire fighter Irish magician reveals how horrific blaze injuries led him to unusual career

"Someone started throwing beer on me to try and put it out, which didn't help. It just made things worse."

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Rua Gleeson

Rua Gleeson

Rua Gleeson

AN IRISH magician who has performed tricks for Beyonce and Simon Cowell has revealed how he fell into his unusual profession by a previous job ending in him being engulfed in flames.

Dubliner Rua Gleeson was aged just 18 when a performance he was doing with flaming balls went horribly wrong.

"I started a technique called Poi when I was 17," he tells the Sunday World. "It's where two balls of Kevlar are soaked in paraffin and lit, so you can spin them around your body in beautiful patterns and techniques.

"I was doing it around a year and I picked it up very quickly because I'd have good hand-eye co-ordination."

Rua (33) - whose real name is Paul - hails from Monkstown, in Dublin, was fascinated with Poi when he saw it on TV.

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Rua Gleeson suffered bad burns

Rua Gleeson suffered bad burns

Rua Gleeson suffered bad burns

"It's quite lovely, slow, and it's very relaxing when you kind of do it in a meditative state because you're just moving your hands."

He was doing one of his tricks at a party when things went wrong and he became a human fireball.

"I was doing a move where there's kind of a windmill of fire spinning in front of you, which is controlled by your hand," he explains. "But the edges of the fire just clipped the underside of my t-shirt.

"But because you're spinning it so fast, it kind of got tangled up in the t-shirt and for whatever reason, the way the wind is blowing it can catch within seconds, it got caught, went up in flames and before I knew it the whole t-shirt was engulfed in flames.

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Rua Gleeson was badly injured

Rua Gleeson was badly injured

Rua Gleeson was badly injured

"Someone started throwing beer on me to try and put it out, which didn't help. It just made things worse."

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Rua was rushed to hospital, and his shocked family demanded he stop the practice before worse happened him.

"The scars were so bad and painful that I was like I'm not going to get involved in this again, because I didn't want to go through it again.

"I got it on my hands, my neck and very badly on my chest and inside my arms. Luckily everything heeled really well, except for my chest, it's still very badly scarred. It turns into essentially baby skin, it's very, very soft... It's quite noticeable when I take my top off."

As part of his recovery, Rua started to do card tricks to improve flexibility in his hands.

"It sounds like a X Factor story but it's how I got my start. Even though it was a horrific accident it turned into a really cool 14-year career," he says.

Rua performs at major corporate events and wedding and among those he's played tricks on are Beyonce, Simon Cowell, And and Dec and Limp Bizkit singer Fred Durst.

"I actually use the phrase deception artist, because I think it's a bit more honest... I like walking into a situation and saying 'I'm going to deceive you, it's going to look like magic, it's going to look like mind reading but it's actually a deception and your job is to figure out why'."

He has hosted a magic series on TG4 called Draoicht and admits he and Keith Barry specialised as 'mentalists'.

Tonight he will be seen on The Big Deal on Virgin Media One, where he wowed the judges in his first audition.

"At the first audition the judges all provided numbers. It added up to the number of the date that I got burned and I have it tattooed to my arm."

The Big Deal is on Virgin Media One at 7pm

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