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Return of the Blue Star LSD Tattoo

An Urban Legend

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Message from a reader, Sep. 21, 1998:

I heard about an email going around that warns parents about tattoo decals that are popular with kids (too young to get the real thing). These decals are alleged to contain LSD capable of sending the unsuspecting user on the trip of a lifetime. Any truth to this, or have we another legend???


Email chain letter dated Oct. 7, 1998:

10/07/98

This was faxed from Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

A form of Tattoo called "Blue Star" is being sold to school children. It is a small piece of paper containing a blue star. They are the size of a pencil eraser and each star is soaked with LSD. The drug is absorbed through the skin simply by handling the paper. There are also brightly colored paper tattoos resembling postage stamps that have the pictures of the following:

Superman, Mickey Mouse, Clowns, Disney characters, Bart simpson, and Butterflies.

Each one is wrapped in foil. This is a new way of selling acid by appealing to young children, These are laced with drugs. If your child gets any of the above, do not handle them . These are known to react quickly and some are laced with Strychnine.

From: J. O’Donnel, Danbury Hospital
Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Service.

Please copy this, give it to your friends, send a copy to your schools. This is growing faster than we can train parents and professionals.


Press release from Danbury Hospital, Connecticut, June 11, 1998:

"BLUE STAR TATTOO" IS A HOAX

DANBURY, CT – June 11, 1998 – Since mid-1992, a FALSE memo has circulated bearing Danbury Hospital’s name warning of a drug-laced "blue star tattoo" being sold to school children. While the memo is UNTRUE, it has generated thousands of telephone calls from communities throughout the U.S. and beyond.

The memo – typically titled with "Warning to Parents" – has been sent (often without anyone questioning its validity) via fax, Internet and flyers by parents, school officials and law enforcement agencies. Danbury Hospital has had no involvement in the distribution of the memo, which has traveled across cyberspace and generated thousands of phone calls inquiring about its genuineness.

According to Hospital officials, the memo was posted there in 1992 and mistakenly attributed to the institution ever since. As today’s on-line technology easily allows people to share this information with others, the issue surfaces from time to time as new information.

IF YOU SEE OR RECEIVE THIS MEMO, PLEASE DO NOT PASS ON THE INFORMATION. IT IS SIMPLY UNTRUE.


The Blue Star LSD tattoo: some history

Folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand first addressed rumors about incidents involving so-called "Mickey Mouse Acid" in his 1984 book, The Choking Doberman and Other "New" Urban Legends. He described it as "the most insidious urban drug legend" going because it implied, as do more recent variants, that drug dealers purposely decorate their wares with colorful cartoon images to make them attractive to small children.

In the words of photocopied flyers proliferating throughout the 1980s, "Mickey Mouse Acid (LSD) has been circulated widely throughout some parts of New England as a part of or in the form of a 'sticker' or label. It may be available to school age children... All Disney cartoon characters have been used in the distribution of this LSD."

Citing a 1982 press clipping describing a "children's 'tatoo' [sic] which may contain LSD," Brunvand theorized that the notion may have originated in an earlier (1980) police memorandum pointing out a particularly worrisome feature of a form of LSD known as "blotter acid" (tabs of paper impregnated with LSD and imprinted with colorful images of cartoon characters): "Children may be susceptible to this type of cartoon stamp believing it a tattoo transfer."

Dave Gross, author of the online Blue Star LSD FAQ, concurs. All it took after those first cautionary mentions, he adds, was a church group copying the vaguely-understood information into an anti-drug flyer for the urban legend to be "on a roll." By 1987 the tattoo warning had mutated into more or less its current form, with references to strychnine contamination, images of a "Blue Star" (a commercial trademark), and illustrations ranging from butterflies to clowns to cartoon characters from Disney and elsewhere.

As noted above, the flyer specifically purporting to originate from Danbury Hospital in Connecticut first surfaced in 1992. Since that time it has circled the globe many times over via photocopied posters, faxes, and forwarded email.

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