— Picasso had his blue period and then moved on to different colors. Paul Karason knows where the famous artist was coming from. After literally living the blues for more than a decade, the real-life “Blue Boy” is ready to try a different color.
“I’m anxious to try green,” Karason joked to TODAY’s Matt Lauer in New York Thursday. “You get a little bored with blue.”
Recluse to celebrity
A year and a half ago, Karason vaulted from life as a relative recluse to Internet fame when he first appeared on TODAY to tell how he turned his skin the color of a ripe Concord grape with years of self-administered doses of colloidal silver.
He went from a man who didn’t like to speak in public and didn’t appreciate the often-negative attention his singular skin color brought him to giving interviews on national shows and being approached with acceptance by people who had seen his story.
Lauer asked him if being on TODAY helped bring him out of his shell.
“I didn’t have much choice. I couldn’t find the cave I was looking for,” Karason said with his characteristic self-deprecating humor.
When he first appeared on TODAY, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, talked him into getting his first complete medical checkup in years. The colloidal silver that had been collecting in his tissues and turning his skin blue is a heavy metal, and there was fear it could have affected his organs, particularly his liver.
Karason passed all the tests with flying colors (of a bluish hue) and was given a clean bill of health.
Other medical issues
Since then, Karason told Lauer, he has had other medical issues that are unrelated to his self-treatment with silver compounds. Those caused the 58-year-old to move from California, where he had gone to get away from what he felt were the negative reactions of others in his previous home in Oregon, to Bellingham in northwest Washington state.
“You can actually get health care up there,” he said of a state that has made an effort to make health care available to all citizens.
After spending his life distrusting the medical profession, Karason was full of praise for his doctors in his new hometown.
“I have a very good primary care physician — best doctor I’ve ever had. He gives me referrals to people who are just the best in the field. Washington — particularly Bellingham — has a medical community that’s just absolutely outstanding,” he enthused.
“I had a blocked artery that required stents [be] put in place, and prostate cancer — oh, that was a thrill,” he told Lauer. He reported that his PSA (prostate specific antigen) numbers are way down now. “Presumably that’s a good thing,” he said ironically.
Karason was also engaged 18 months ago, to Jackie Northrup. But while the two remain friends, they no longer have wedding plans. Karason declined to discuss the matter further othen than to confirm that they are no longer officially engaged.
Karason’s skin started turning blue more than a decade ago after he used a silver preparation to treat a bad case of dermatitis on his face that broke out due to stress when his father died. He took the silver in colloidal form that he produced himself, using electrolysis.
Colloidal silver is a suspension of silver in a liquid base — in this case, distilled water. Silver has antibacterial properties and has been used to fight infection for thousands of years. But it went out of use when penicillin, which is far more effective, was developed.
It continued to be used in some over-the-counter medicines until 1999, when the FDA banned it because it causes argyria, which is a result of the silver reacting with light the same way it does in photography. The silver collects in the skin and other organs and does not dissipate. Karason is blue for life.
He still takes it, but very rarely, he told Lauer. “I’m in a place right now where it’s very difficult for me to make my own, and my resources are limited and it’s very expensive,” he explained.
As a result, he said, his blue pigmentation has lightened up, but remains.
Karason seems at peace with that, and he no longer fears going out and having people approach him. Thanks to his appearances on TODAY and wide exposure on the Internet, others no longer look at him with fear but more with benign curiosity.
Lauer asked how often people approach him to talk about his condition.
“Everywhere I go, and pretty much every day at least once,” he said.
Asked if he expects that to change, Karason joked, “I doubt it. It’s not green, after all.”
He may want to reconsider his fixation on green. Being blue may not be the best thing in the world, but, as Kermit the Frog so famously observed, “It’s not easy being green,” either.