here's some stuff on houdini i was reading, for inspiration...
"From 1904 and throughout the 1910s, Houdini usually performed with great success in the United States. He would free himself from handcuffs, chains, ropes and straitjackets, often while hanging from a rope or suspended in water, sometimes in plain sight of the audience. In 1913, he introduced perhaps his most famous act, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, in which he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass and steel cabinet full to overflowing with water.
He explained some of his tricks in books written in the 1920s. Many locks and handcuffs could be opened with properly applied force, others with shoestrings. Other times, he carried concealed lockpicks or keys, being able to regurgitate small keys at will."
"In the 1920s, after the death of his beloved mother, he turned his energies toward debunking self-proclaimed psychics and mediums, a pursuit that would inspire and be followed by latter-day magicians James Randi and P.C. Sorcar, and even Penn and Teller. Houdini's magical training allowed him to expose frauds who had successfully fooled many scientists and academics. He was a member of a Scientific American committee which offered a cash prize to any medium who could successfully demonstrate supernatural abilities. Thanks to Houdini's contributions, the prize was never collected. As his fame as a "ghostbuster" grew, Houdini took to attending séances in disguise, accompanied by a reporter and police officer. Possibly the most famous medium whom he debunked was the Boston medium Mina Crandon, a.k.a. Margery.
These activities cost Houdini the friendship of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle, a firm believer in spiritualism during his latter years, refused to believe any of Houdini's exposés. Doyle actually came to believe that Houdini was a powerful spiritualist medium, had performed many of his stunts by means of paranormal abilities, and was using these abilities to block those of other mediums that he was 'debunking' (see Doyle's The Edge of The Unknown, published in 1931 after Houdini's death). This disagreement led to the two men becoming public antagonists."
"Britsh singer Kate Bush recorded a song about Houdini's wife visiting mediums to see if his soul had survived which was included on her 1982 album The Dreaming, the cover of which showed Bush as Mrs Houdini, passing a small key to her husband via a kiss."