Big Deal magician Paul Gleeson says horror fireball crash led him on the path to success
Magician Paul Gleeson has revealed how a horror accident that turned him into a human fireball set him on the path to showbiz success.
The Dubliner, who goes by the stage name Rua, appears tonight in the semi-finals of Virgin Media One The Big Deal.
As a teenager, the Monkstown man was a street artist in the capital using fire poi – two balls of kevlar lit with paraffin and turned in patterns.
But he was forced to change careers after an abnormal incident that led to hospitalization for severe burns.
He told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I used to play on Grafton Street and Temple Bar. One night my T-shirt caught fire.
“When I was on fire, someone threw beer at me to try to help me.
“I like to think the guy knew there was a lot of water in the beer, but it didn’t work that way and it made it worse, and I was on fire for a little while.
“I ended up in St James’s Hospital, the burn unit over there. My hands were completely bandaged, as were my chest and neck.
Paul, who was 18 at the time, suffered devastating third and second degree burns.
While in hospital, a friend gave him a book on magic tricks.
He added, “As soon as I got out of the hospital, I started using the tricks to help my hands move again.
“It takes great dexterity to be a magician, that’s how I started, and I started doing it for friends.
“I’m still pretty marked to this day, but I don’t mind because it got me into this crazy career that I’ve had for the past 10 years.”
The self-taught ‘deception artist’ honed his skills at Dublin City University.
After quitting his PR job, he teamed up with Midas Productions, who worked with fellow Irish illusionist Keith Barry, for a 10-part TG4 series Draiocht, where he made mind-blowing predictions, magic streets and escape stunts.
Now the 33-year-old appears in the penultimate episode of The Big Deal, hoping to take home the top prize of € 50,000.
The program takes a unique twist on the traditional talent show format, offering artists a deal to accept some cash and leave or reject the money and continue the battle.
Paul said: “I like the way it’s been set up, so if someone isn’t doing well, they have the option of coming away with a little bit of money.
“In a lot of shows, don’t pay for the acts in any way. As a performer, the opportunity to earn $ 50,000 in just three performances is very, very difficult to do in Ireland. “
- The Big Deal is on Virgin Media One tonight at 8 p.m.
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