Full Effect for the O.O.P.S. Machine

Effect: The initials stand for the One and Only Polisher of Sneakers, the audience is told, and you ask for a volunteer to help demonstrate the machine. You need a youngster who has deliciously dirty sneakers and would like to have them cleaned for FREE. Once you have your volunteer, you invite him onto the stage and have him sit in a chair to remove one sneaker for a test run.

You assure the volunteer and the audience that the machine is absolutely safe and even though it's the first time you've ever used it, you absolutely guarantee that his sneaker will come out fresh and clean and polished, or you will give him an even better shoe or sneaker and if that fails to satisfy him, you will take the volunteer out to lunch as a reward.

The borrowed sneaker is put inside a cubical box made of hardboard and held together by duct tape. The home-made look of the box adds to the uncertainty of the audience that it will actually work as described.

Once the sneaker is inside, a second top is placed on the box. This top has a light, an electric bell and any other gizmos you wish to add, like egg beaters, etc. There is an electric cord attached to this top and you nervously plug it in, warning that if the bell should start ringing you have three seconds to remove his sneaker before it is burned to a crisp. When you plug it in, the light begins flashing, and you look very happy that it is actually working. Suddenly the bell begins to ring and you panic as you remind the audience that you have only three seconds to remove the sneaker before it is burned to a crisp (of course using up your three seconds in the explanation!). Now smoke is coming from the box. You unplug the top, remove it, and pick up the box by the back edge.

The box falls open, revealing the initials O.O.P.S.! At the same time, the smoke that has filled the box is released and the charred remains of a sneaker falls to the floor with a thud. You hand off the box to an assistant, along with an open base that the box was resting on, and the electric top, both of which are freely shown as they are taken off.

You pretend that nothing is wrong and that the sneaker looks perfectly all right. You even ask the boy to put it on to make sure it still fits. Of course this is impossible since it is little more than a charred rubber sneaker sole. Finally you admit that the sneaker MAY have been damaged and you offer to replace it with an even better substitute. At this point your assistant brings out a shoebox, which you open and remove a rubber clown shoe. Try it on, you encourage the youngster. Walk around in it! Do you like it? NO?

The assistant brings out another box. This time it is a rubber or felt elf shoe. Again you try to get the boy to put it on, and if you can, you will have him walking around with the clown shoe on one foot and the elf shoe on the other. Another box, another shoe... this time a lady's high spiked heel shoe which you know the boy will absolutely refuse to put on.

Well, you have nothing left but to stick to your original guarantee. You will take the boy out to lunch. "What are we having for lunch?" you ask your assistant. The assistant hands you a brown paper bag. "Let's see... we're having sausages... those look nice..." at this point you produce a lot of foam rubber food from the paper bag, naming each piece and commenting on how delicious it all looks. Finally, you smell something in the bag and hold your nose. Maybe it's the Limburger cheese you put in the bag last year. Holding your nose, you reach into the bag and remove the boy's sneaker, unharmed. He puts it on and you drape him with the sausages, etc. and have him take a bow for being so brave.

That’s the version that was used by the Wiz Kids for many years, and explains why it was done with assistants- when there are Wiz Kids around, you need things to keep them occupied as they wait for their turns in the spot light. However, BEFORE there were Wiz Kids, Jim Gerrish used to perform this solo, and the solo method is also provided with the instructions. The box is simply folded flat after the charred sneaker falls on the floor. The base is picked up, shown empty, and the folded box and electric top are put aside. At that point the magician takes out a large paper bag and uses the bag to produce all the shoes, lunch, and finally the restored sneaker. In the original article published in Genii Magazine (Vol.49 - 1985) Jim provided a three-fold screen (NOT Grant's Temple Screen) for the final productions, but in reality, the paper bag was funnier and easier.

Addendum added 6/17/11


Jim recently had to rebuild the OOPS Machine for Wiz Kid Director Fred Goode who wanted to perform it at a Benefit Concert show for his High School Marching Band. In the process, Jim streamlined the original effect and took photos, which have now been added to the original e-Book. If you were one of the purchasers of this e-Book prior to 6/17/11, an attempt was made to deliver the revised e-Book to you at your original e-mail address. If you did not yet receive it, contact Spellbinder at magicnook@yahoo.com and request your free update, identifying yourself by the original e-mail you used to purchase it. If you are buying the effect for the first time, the addendum is now part of the e-Book.

Final Addendum added 6/21/11

Wiz Kid Qua-Fiki's Lunch Bag

Leave it to Qua-Fiki to get in the last word! He had been training with his Uncle Fred so he can take over the OOPS Machine for his summer shows and wanted to be able to perform the trick solo for the times when no other Wiz Kids are available to act as his assistants. So he redesigned the Lunch Bag to carry both the funny shoes and the funny lunch items and then, without need for any assistance, he "discovers" the missing shoe or sneaker in the bottom of the bag wrapped up in paper and masking tape as if it were a submarine sandwich. If you did not yet receive this final addendum, contact Spellbinder at magicnook@yahoo.com and request your free update, identifying yourself by the original e-mail you used to purchase it. If you are buying the effect for the first time, the addendum is now part of the e-Book. Below, Qua-Fiki gives a store demonstration (not a performance with an audience) of the effect.

O.O.P.S.! Machine Demonstration from James Gerrish on Vimeo.

#1. O.O.P.S.! $5.00

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