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Ken Silverman on:
the Chinese Torture Cell

Ken Silverman
Ken Silverman All of Houdini’s escapes involved a lot of pain. And certain part of the interest in it has to do with some kind of masochistic pleasure. In fact, Houdini’s escapes often involved torture. The Chinese Torture Cell, I suppose, is the most famous, but he also got out of an iron maiden in Scotland that was used for hanging prisoners. He got out of a terrible torture device that was filled with razor-sharp needles inside. The idea was that whoever was put in such a thing would try to squirm around and, you know, would be dead in 15 seconds. And another device he got out of, called the [Sangua], which was some kind of Asian torture device that sort of lifted his neck in one direction and pulled his ankles down in another direction, and his arms out in still another direction. Got out of that, too. But the sight of Houdini in terrible pain certainly was part of the strange appeal of these escapes.

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