Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.


The life of a professional magician isn’t always easy. There’s the death-defying, the hair’s breadth escapes, the daring what ordinary mortals would not. And then there’s the problem of skin care.

Harry Houdini toured Australia in 1910. A tireless self-promoter, he embarked on a series of stunts to publicise his performances, including being wrapped in chains and hurling himself from Melbourne’s Princes Bridge into the Yarra River. Various members of the public set challenges as well, with fiendishly difficult rope entanglements, hand-built coffins and manacles of devilish devise.

With all this, it’s no wonder that Houdini appreciated a ‘healing embrocation’, especially for those wrists chafed during his handcuff escapes. An obvious aficionado of soft and supple skin, Houdini penned a testimonial to the makers of Zam-Buk, an ointment which promised to heal ‘cuts, bruises, scalds, burns, eczema, pimples, psoriasis, piles, bad legs and other affections of the skin and tissues’.

It’s good to know that even masters of mysteries like Houdini need to take care of life’s niceties.



  • Comment by Catherine Woodberry — July 26, 2012 @ 11:04 am

    Love researching this sort of thing – lots of fun. 🙂 Do you ever find sometimes that your original stories get sidetracked when you find interesting and unusual facts in your research?

  • Comment by michael — July 26, 2012 @ 11:12 am

    Definitely! Sometimes, thanks to research, I end up a long way from where I thought I was going – but it’s all worthwhile.

  • Comment by Kathryn — August 1, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    haha, wonderful! this sort of thing makes me want to start researching something! But with study right now I can’t. Also researching seems a bit scary, there’s so much to do, where do you start? How do you start?
    If you ever feel like writing a writing related post, I’ve love to hear about how you go about researching. 🙂

  • Comment by michael — August 1, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    Yes, sometimes I have to limit my researching just to make sure it’s not endless. I tend to accumulate a broad overview by reading/viewing a lot of general stuff before narrowing down and concentrating on some central stuff.
    A post about researching? Good idea. Keep an eye out for it!

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