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The true blue story of Paul Karason

By Linda Dahlstrom, health editor

One can’t help but wonder if the Blue Man Group is feeling threatened.

Sure, they have a good thing going with their sold-out shows, percussion prowess and dancing skills. But we all know what really makes them a hit. Their own advertising slogan points out: “They’re dazzling, they’re outrageous and most of all – THEY’RE BLUE!”

We all know it’s just a facade. When the “blue” men go home at night, they strip off their blue latex, paint or whatever it is that makes them azure and they become just like everyone else.

Why this man turned blue

Jan. 7: Exclusively on TODAY, Paul Karason explains to anchor Matt Lauer what caused his skin to become this color and the scrutiny he experiences for being blue.

Today show


Not so for Paul Karason. He’s blue for real. Permanently, deeply, completely, Violet Beauregarde post-Willy Wonka blue. He’s so hardcore blue that NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman speculates that even his organs are blue.

Take that, Blue Man Group. The 57-year-old from Madera, Calif., says he started turning blue a decade ago after he tried treating a skin condition on his face with a silver preparation. He’s also been drinking colloidal silver, which is silver in a liquid suspension, for about 14 years, he says.

Before the invention of penicillin in the 1930s, colloidal silver was commonly used by doctors as an antibiotic.  But then again, medical professionals used to think the best way to get rid of a headache was to drill a hole in the skull.

In 1999, the FDA banned the use of colloidal silver in over the counter drugs. The problem, you see, is that it can collect in the skin and organs and cause severe damage. But it’s still sold as a supplement; Web sites also offer manuals telling people how to make their own. 

That’s just what Karason did, and he ended up as a walking cautionary tale if there ever was one. Remember how your mom used to warn you not to cross your eyes or they’d stay that way? Sometimes there’s something to that.

Karason says he’s still drinking the stuff, with no plans to stop - or go to the doctor, for that matter.  Even if he quit today, he’s stuck being blue, says Snyderman. Argyria, the condition he has, is permanent.

So, probably, is his nickname. People call him “Papa Smurf,” he says. He seems resigned to his hue and credits the colloidal silver for helping ease his arthritis and dissipate his acid reflux.  Still, it’s a high price to pay for the amount of times he’s undoubtedly been asked, “What’s wrong? Feeling a little blue?” And can he only cheer for football teams of a certain color?

A few days before his appearance on the “Today” show,  Matt Lauer said Karason told him, “You know, it’s not about what you look like, it’s your character.”

Well spoken, from a man showing his true colors. WATCH VIDEO

Compiled from reports, Today online and news services

Decoding a color

Colors often come to represent different things. But we can’t seem to decide how we feel about the color blue.

  • Pro:  The Egyptians used lapis lazuli to represent heaven.  It’s also the color usually used to depict the Virgin Mary. Mood ring decoders say blue represents feeling relaxed and content. (In fact, one Web site suggests it’s the ideal pajama color for that reason.) Weight lifters reportedly do their best in blue rooms.
  • Con:  When you hear a “Code Blue” being called, it never means anything good. And you don’t want to be on the receiving end of someone yelling until they turn blue in the face. Also, whenever anyone sings the blues it’s all about heartbreak and tragedy.
  • Depends:  Blue movies, blue bloods and blue states fall somewhere in the middle depending on your proclivities and politics.