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Literature / Spells R Us

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Spells R Us is a Shared Universe Web Original created by Bill Hart in the 1990s. It has accumulated a fairly decent fan base, and many stories have been authored for it (though not all of them by Bill Hart).

The series revolves around The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday called Spells R Us. The shop is run by a Robe and Hat Wizard known only as "The Old Man". The typical story starts with The Old Man selling some sort of magical product to a disbelieving customer; as the story progresses, the item will be used by somebody (either deliberately or inadvertently), and the intended target will undergo a transformation of some sort — typically a Gender Bender, but Animorphism, age progression, age regression, and other sorts of transformations have also occurred. Most stories focus on the ramifications of using the magic item; many end with the transformee stuck that way for the rest of their life.

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The series begins with "A Strangeness at The Frat House". The story follows two college students, Chris and Terry, who need to find girls for the frat party or they will be kicked out of the fraternity. Desperate, the boys go to Spells R Us. The Old Man gives them the spell, and "forgets" to tell the boys that for one night, they (and the other frat house students) will become girls in body and mind. Naturally, they botch the spell; now, anyone in the house after 7 a.m. will turn into the opposite sex. While "Crissy" and "Terri" retain their male memories, anyone else acts, thinks, and looks as if they were always female until 2 a.m. (when the spell wears off).

The story was written by Bill Hart, and establishes the universe in which many of his subsequent stories take place. Many fans have now written their own stories involving the shop and the Old Man, though they tend to focus less on the events with Terry and Chris, and more on the other vic-*cough*- uh, customers of the Old Man (while ignoring Bill Hart's saga). This unofficial canon led to many sub-universes; the most popular of these is Bikini Beach, which revolves around a magic women only, gender-bending water park somewhere in the U.S. operated by an old gypsy witch (known commonly as "Grandmother") who is a good friend of The Wizard.

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Stories can be found all over the web. Most of them (if not all) can be found at Fictionmania and BigCloset TopShelf.A small collection can be found at this Angelfire page and this archive of TF stories.


This franchise contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Professional Targets: A telemarketer learned his lesson.
  • Affably Evil: The Old Man, in several stories. He'll seem polite, and even friendly, but will still think nothing of screwing the customers over for his own amusement.
  • All Guys Want Sorority Women: Invoked often.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: When the stories are in a high school setting, this trope comes into play (rather than All Guys Want Sorority Women).
  • All Men Are Perverts: Invoked many, many times. In fact, this is the in-universe reason why the Old Woman built Bikini Beach: she wanted a place where women could be safe from the advances (and eyes) of lecherous men; thus, any man who enters the park is transformed (via the park's enchanted water) into a woman for the duration of his pass.
    • In the early BB stories, the Old Woman does indeed see (almost) all men this way. However, her views gradually soften thanks to Anya (and meeting more genuinely good, decent men).
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  • An Aesop: If there is one, it's that a quick fix to your problems can end up biting you in the backside later. Also, always read and follow the instructions.
  • And I Must Scream: Some of the more...morally dubious customers find themselves in truly unpleasant situations. Several have been turned into sentient objects.
    • Alan Jenkins (from the Bikini Beach story "Peeping Tom"), a nerd who is caught spying on (and photographing) the park's customers, is punished by being permanently changed into a sex-crazed bimbo porn star with absurdly massive breasts. Who is very much aware of her predicament, and utterly disgusted and horrified by her urges and behavior, but unable to stop or control herself.
      • Fortunately, the story does have a happy ending: in "Customer Service", Anya takes pity on "Allison's" suffering and removes the bimbo and sex drive aspects of the transformation. While the Old Woman is initially angry with Anya for acting against her wishes, she eventually comes to see the error of her ways, apologizes to Allison, and allows Anya to alter Allison's transformation (changing her into an ordinary, average-looking college student).
  • The Apprentice: Many early stories attempted to give the Old Man an apprentice/assistant without much success, until "Possibilities" introduced Danni. Anya is this to Grandmother, as well as her granddaughter (hence the nickname "Grandmother").
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Most of the gender-bent customers of Spells R Us end up looking like supermodels.
    • Averted in "Strangeness At The Sorority House." Until the end, at least.
    • In the Bikini Beach stories, although we've yet to hear of a male customer of the park turning into a genuinely unattractive woman, most just turn into female versions of themselves.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The unfortunate souls in the Spells R' Us stories usually end up getting exactly what they wished for — but the results are never what they expected or wanted.
  • Body Horror:
    • Some of the transformations brought on by the Wizard's wares are less than pleasant.
    • In "Bikini Beach and the Bomb Plot", two villains-for-hire go to Bikini Beach to acquire a gender-bent disguise to hide explosives in a fake pregnancy belly. The (still male) member of the duo is so taken by his gender-flipped partner that they have sex right there in the changing room... causing him to get stuck inside of her and sucked up into her body — where he regresses into a fetus within her womb.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Danni, the snarky Wizard's apprentice.
    • Anya from Bikini Beach. She has her own three-part story in "The Temptation of Anya".
  • Breast Expansion: The comic Spells R Us: Dream Girl (NSFW, obviously) has an overweight girl visiting the shop looking for something to help her land a date with the school quarterback. The Old Man gives her a potion that will turn her into the young man's perfect woman. Unfortunately, the boy's perfect woman is not one she wants to be.
  • Buxom Is Better: Based on the number of gender-bent men who wind up with huge busts....
  • Characterization Marches On: Grandmother is noticeably harsher and more vindictive in the earliest Bikini Beach stories. According to the Universe's creator, ElrodW, Grandmother's lingering hurt from being treated terribly by men in the past causes her to be more vindictive. Anya was even brought in to help "soften" and act as a Morality Chain to her character.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Dee Dee to Terry. The reasons why are a long story (the short version of which is a Love Potion gone wrong). Luckily, by the end of "A Strangeness Returns," her memories of Terry are erased.
  • Crossover: In addition to crossing over many times with Bikini Beach, the Wizard plays cards with The Trickster goddess Miss Chiff and Molly the Fairy Godmother (both created by fellow TG story author Morpheus) in "The Wager". The story also features an unnamed transformation goddess (referred to as the "Butterfly Goddess") who appears in Morpheus's story "Finders Keepers".
  • Depending on the Writer: The Old Man's behavior and personality in each story. Sometimes, he's a nice guy who will sell you something to help you with your problems, or help you with any problems that resulted from selling you an item (only if you ask, though). In other cases, he's a Jerkass who transforms people for the hell of it (and then alters their memories so he doesn't get in trouble).
    • What the gender-bent customers end up as pretty much depends on the author's personal preferences.
    • The Old Man's age. In some stories, he is young enough to have a teenage niece; in others, he's over a century old. Others still have him as old as time itself.
  • Different for Girls: Invoked with many male-to-female transformees.
  • Dirty Old Man: Given his predilection for stereotypical Valley Girls and Buxom Is Better, he is definitely one. (Grandmother from Bikini Beach even identifies him as such.)
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Never, ever try to steal from the Old Man.
    • Grandmother doesn't take kindly to people who try to sneak into her park without paying. Subverted in "Bikini Beach: Midnight Swim" and "Bikini Beach: Pardons and Decisions". In the first story, Vicky and the boys who sneak into the park for a midnight swim have to work in the park until they pay off their damages. In the second story, one hardworking and effective employee, already secretly outraged and embittered by the transformations, is pushed over the edge (by one particular lifetime membership/transformation sale) and becomes overtly disgruntled. This motivates Grandmother to end their work requirement early.
    • Grandmother also dislikes people who abuse or mistreat others.
    • A geek hit on a sorority girl. Clearly, we must use dark magic to kick his ass! Of course, this decision leads to Arnold being combined with a girl named Angie, creating a double-Superpowered Evil Side — with Sanity Slippage to boot. This may have been a bad idea.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Witch to the Wizard, Anqualicara in the early stories.
  • Exact Words:
    • If either the customer or the Wixard is a Jerkass, the Wizard will give the customer what he asks for in the most literal sense possible.
    • If the object sold to the customer has instructions, the customer had better follow them to the letter — or else.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Some customers suffer this fate.
  • First Law of Gender-Bending:
    • The transformations are almost always male to female, and always one-way. In most of the cases, the Wizard could change his costumers back; he just can't be bothered to (or finds their predicament too amusing to do so). In others, the shop itself will have vanished when the customer tries to seek help.
    • In the Bikini Beach stories, the length of the customer's transformation depends on the duration of their pass, which can vary from one day to a lifetime. Roughly half of the stories involve a one-way transformation (either because the transformee is being punished, they did so for the sake of others as an act of kindness, or they simply find that life is better in their transformed state. The latter is especially common among men who are elderly, sick, or otherwise disabled).
  • Gender Bender: The central plot point of most of the stories (in both Spells 'R Us and the spin-off verses). However in the SRU Universe's heyday, SRU also committed furry transformations.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A few stories have the Wizard as this, in which a customer seemingly falls into his trap, only for said trap to save a loved one's life (or prevent another disaster from occurring).
  • Jumping the Gender Barrier: A common plot device involves a man becoming a girl and hooking up with his former best friend (who may be either a straight man or a lesbian girlfriend).
  • Karmic Transformation: Happens quite frequently, particularly to the male customers in the Bikini Beach stories. Lecherous men will find themselves subjected to the Male Gaze and harassment once they leave the park, men who prefer giant breasts will wind up with a pair of their own, etc. It's openly stated that Grandmother can see into the minds of her customers — and will make sure they receive a female form that's in keeping with their character by customizing or "tweaking" their transformation. She can also make it permanent, if need be.
    • In the Bikini Beach story "The Skinheads", a trio of racist male skinheads are permanently transformed into non-white women.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Sometimes the change will also involve the victim(s) or victim's associates' memories of their former life being erased or altered, or the changes becoming retroactive (as if they were always that way).
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • If you're a jerk, then chances are you will lose your Y chromosome by the end of the story, and become less of a jerk.
    • Grandmother can sense what's in the minds of her male customers, and will (usually) give them exactly what they deserve.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: An unhappy customer who tries to find the store again will often find that it has vanished completely. Though not always.
  • Love Triangle: After Terry is forced to be Terri for 9 months (hint, hint), and Chris has to be her boyfriend during that time, the triangle becomes Danni-Chris- Terri.
  • Anya I Might be your Grandfather: It's suggested throughout the Bikini Beach stories that the SRU Wizard is Anya's grandfather, and confirmed in The Temptation of Anya.
  • No Name Given:
    • The Wizard (though some early stories name him Anselm).
    • The Bikini Beach Old Woman (referred to usually as "The Old Woman" or "Grandmother", even by her non-related employees). She finally gets a name in The Temptation of Anya.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Certain "effects" of each story's product will often lead to this trope. Which often results in the First, Second, and Third Laws of Genderbending.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: The Old Man. Sometimes it's only the robe; other times, the hat is included. The robe is nothing impressive; it's rather worn-out, and is frequently mistaken for a bathrobe.
  • Shapeshifting: Of both the voluntary and involuntary varieties. And of course, some stories have both.
  • Shared Universe: With the Bikini Beach stories by ElrodW.
  • Second Law of Gender Bending: On those occasions where a costumer doesn't have their memories outright rewritten, they'll often end up enjoying their new gender more than their old one.
  • Shout-Out: The story "Jessica", which features the protagonist (after watching the movie) turning into...well, Jessica Rabbit.
  • Strictly Formula: Most Spells R Us stories follow the same premise: an unsuspecting person (usually male) is shopping at their local mall and finds the store; after mistaking the Wizard for a "crazy old man in a bathrobe", they buy an item (which the Wizard always claims will solve their "problem"). The item will transform the customer and/or the people around them; the transformation isn't what the customer expected, and ends up permanently altering his life in some way. The story will typically end with the Wizard watching the denouement through his crystal ball, chuckling to himself while commenting on the outcome.
  • Third Law of Gender Bending:
    • On changing gender, most people end up taking on that gender's societally expected mannerisms, usually because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body. In the case of Spells R' Us, this usually results in guys becoming stereotypical valley girls.
    • Justified in the Bikini Beach stories: the park's magic typically gives the transformees "training wheels" (i.e. built-in knowledge of how to move, act and generally live as women).
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: And a weird one at that! In the very first story (after the "curse" is placed over the house) Dennis falls for Chris' girl form "Crissy" and thinks Terry is trying to steal her away. Then later, Dennis is under the spell and "Denise" falls for Terry and thinks Crissy is trying to steal her away. No one is into Dennis or Denise. Of course, things get worse when Terry takes a Love Potion in front of Crissy...
  • Valley Girl: A common result of the many Spells R'Us Gender Benders.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Many of the later stories depict costumers that have heard about the shop who think they know better — but end up screwing things up anyway.

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