Stephen Gray's "Hanging Boy" experiment required a kid (preferably one with no parents), two planks, a silk rope, and an electrified glass tube. The tube would be rubbed against the child's feet and, according to one account, "sparks of fire evoked from his face and hands." Because of the electric charge, the kid could also attract feathers or small brass fillings.
"I don't know what a supervillain is, but I see no reason why we shouldn't try to create one."
This was originally an experiment to find out if electricity could be conducted through bodies (meaning that Gray probably wasn't sure if the orphan would just explode or something), but it soon became a popular parlor trick people paid good money to witness. Sometimes little girls would be added. Luckily for Gray, in those times defenseless orphans were in steady supply from any charity house, so playing bondage with electrified minors was a socially accepted brand of entertainment for a while.