Street View: See the House Where Richard Pryor Caught on Fire Freebasing Coke

Like a lit match.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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21 31 years ago today, the great comic and actor Richard Pryor suffered an accident in his L.A. home (17267 Parthenia Street), and, depending on which account you believe, one of two things happened.

Option A: The initially reported story is that while freebasing coke—mixing cocaine with ether and then holding a heat source to the mixture so that it produces vapors capable of fucking you up, down, and sideways—Richard Pryor caught fire, a unfortunate possibility when doing drugs in this fashion. All it takes is the flame igniting the highly-flammable ether to leave you with serious third-degree burns that put you in a hospital with orderlies dunking your scorched frame in a whirlpool bath, where churning hot water and antiseptics feebly heal you.

Option B: While under the influence of freebased coke—while stoned insane—Pryor poured 151-proof rum over his body and lit himself like a gasoline-soaked rag. Drug-induced psychosis, they call it. He ran down the street, on fire. Either way, the comic ended up in that whirlpool bath, with the solution coating his skin. He spent time in a hyperbaric chamber, as well, an iron-lung looking device that, by increasing atmospheric pressure, forces pure oxygen into his body so that you might heal faster.

In 1982, in his stand-up film Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, Pryor joked about the incident. Pacing the stage in a suit Suge Knight would be proud of, flexing his fingers nervously and twitching his moustache, he described his night as the Human Torch. He joked about waving a lit match, saying it was "Richard Pryor running down the street."

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