- The LSD Tattoo urban legend (a.k.a. +quot;Blue Star tattoos,+quot; +quot;Mickey Mouse LS
The LSD Tattoo urban legend (a.k.a. "Blue Star tattoos," "Mickey
Mouse LSD," et al.) is a classic of the breed. It is an example of a
"contamination" legend and can be classed with such other familiar legends
as "Spider eggs in Bubble Yum."
Typically, a school, hospital, or police station will get a copy
of a flier alleging that drug fiends are using a nefarious new technique
to get children hooked on drugs -- they give kids lick-and-stick tattoos
(such as are occasionally found as prizes in Cracker Jack boxes) that
contain LSD. The LSD is absorbed through the skin, causing all sorts of
unpleasant symptoms, the child becomes hooked, and the dealer has a new
The legend has some credibility trouble. First of all, although
the fliers often list authorities (Beth Israel Medical Center in New
York, the Valley Children's Hospital, "the Police Department," the
Cumberland County Sheriff's Department, "Die New Yorker Poliezei,"
"las Autoridades," "Sr. Roch Hospital," "Mr. Guy Chaille, Advisor to the
President," etc.), once contacted (if in fact, they can be; Mr. Guy
Chaille doesn't exist), these authorities tend to deny knowledge of the
In addition, LSD is a nonaddictive drug. There is no such thing
as a "deadly trip" -- a fatal overdose of LSD would be almost
impossible. The absorption of LSD from blotter paper through the skin
is also extremely unlikely, if not impossible.
Like all good urban legends, there is a thread of truth in the
magic carpet. LSD is commonly packaged in sheets of blotter-paper which
are perforated into squares (approx. 1cm x 1cm) which constitute a
"dose" of LSD. Some LSD manufacturers have trademarks which are printed
on these squares (examples: Blue Unicorns, Bart Simpson, etc.). I've
seen a photograph of a square of blotter acid printed with Mickey Mouse
(in his role as the Sorcerer's Apprentice in the movie Fantasia -- a
favorite movie of the psychedelic set).
One theory as to how the rumors started: A police report
mentioned lsd doses "stamped with pictures of Mickey Mouse." The word
"stamped" was transmogrified from a verb into a noun at some point in
the FOAFmission of the story: "stamps with pictures of Mickey Mouse."
The implication being that when licked, these stamps cause LSD
Such a genesis-document has been found. In 1980, the Narcotics
Bureau of the New Jersey State Police sent out a memorandum including
pictures of Mickey Mouse blotter acid, including packaging including
foil, a ziploc bag and a red cardboard box with a picture of Mickey
Mouse on it. The memorandum uses the word "stamps" to refer to the
pictures stamped on the blotter paper.
[Jean-Bruno RENARD, in "LSD Cartoon Stamps / Tattoo Transfers:
An Extreme Case of Rumor about Contamination in France" alleges that
another connection between stamps and LSD is that "it is a custom among
LSD users to send small LSD tablets by concealing them underneath the
postage stamps of the letters they send to foreign correspondents." He
also alleges, but doesn't footnote (dammit!), that "LSD tablets were
found concealed beneath tattoo transfers in California."]
A Seventh-Day Adventist church community wrote and propagated a
flier in 1980 using information from the police memorandum, and the
legend was on a roll. Like a virus, this flier was highly contageous
and subject to mutations that would make it more virulent.
Legends about drug dealers trying to hook children on drugs with
"free samples" and other nefarious means have been around for a long
time, and it was natural that there would be some cross-fertilization.
Eventually, someone gets a bee in his/her bonnet and types out a
warning. Some police department somewhere makes a drug bust in which
the "blue stars" trademark is found, another finds "Bart Simpson," each time
the legend gets more elaborate.
By 1987, the fliers include references to "Blue Star,"
"butterflies, clowns, red pyramids, and colored microdots." LSD is now
alleged to be able to cause "a fatal `trip'" and strychnine is included
in some stamps (strychnine in acid is an old faithful urban legend,
surfacing regularly in alt.drugs).
"Windowpane" acid and "Microdot" are not trademarks, but are
different carrier media for the drug (i.e. not blotter paper). Windowpane
is a gelatin-base, whereas Microdot is the drug in a pill or capsule form.
Standard flier format
DRUG ALERT -- The following information is from the Beth Israel
Medical Center in New York.(1)
Die New Yorker Polizei warnt vor einer neuen Drogenform,
welche jetzt Kindern offeriert wird...(3)
Esta Informacion ha sido confirmada por la Brigada Francesa de
Estupefacientes (traduccion de una informacion recbida de
The Police Department has informed me that there is another
danger in our communities.(6)
The following article was distributed by the Cumberland
County Sheriff's Department in May 1988. It deserves your
attention. This article appeared in The Newsletter of St.
Michael's Lutheran Church, Hamburg, PA.(7)
...the Valley Children's Hospital and the Police Department
have informed us that there is another danger in our
[Plea for further spread of rumor]
Please alert your community leaders, school officials, law
enforcement agencies, churches and anyone else you feel will
help us spread the word.... Please advise your community
and your children about these drugs.(1)
Feel free to share this message with parents of other children,
friends, and relatives.(5)
Please alert your community leaders, school officials, law
enforcement agencies, church, and anyone else you feel will
help spread the word.(7)
[LSD Tattoo Warning]
A form of tattoo called "Blue Star" is being sold to school
children. It is a small sheet of white paper containing blue
stars the size of a pencil eraser. Each star is soaked with
LSD. Each star can be removed and placed in the mouth. The
LSD can also be absorbed through the skin simply by handling
Segun los autoridades, una especie de tatuaje para ninos,
llamado "BLUE STAR" (estrelle azul), ha aparecido en el
mercado en algunoz medios de los Estados Unidos.(4)
It is a small sheet of paper containing blue stars the size
of a pencil eraser. Each star is loaded with LSD. Each
star can be removed and placed in the mouth.(5)
[Description of tattoos]
There are also brightly colored paper tabs resembling postage
stamps with pictures of Superman, butterflies, clowns, Simpsons,
Mickey Mouse, and other Disney characters. These stamps are
packed in a red cardboard box which is wrapped in foil....
Red stamps called "Red Pyramid" are also being distributed,
also with "micro dot" in various colors and another kind called
"Window Pane" which has a grid that can be cut out.(1)
Estos tatuajes representan a MICKEY MOUSE O SUPERMAN o
mariposas y se presentan en forma de sellos aplicables en la
piel. Estos sellos contienen LSD y son de color brilliante
y vienen en general empaquetados en unos sobres de carton
rojizo, con una fotografia de MICKEY MOUSE y a la vez todos
ellos metidos en una bolsa transparente precintada. Cada
bolsa contiene cinco hojas contabilizando 100 sellos.(2)
Es gibt auch Klebebilder in bunten Farben, die win Briefmarken
aussehen. Diese Bilder sind oft mit "Superman" Schmetterlingon
Disney-Figuren und vielen anderen bedruckt. Die Marken sind in
Alufolie verpackt und befinden sich in Karton-Schachtelchen.(3)
These are brightly-colored tabs resembling postage stamps
that have pictures of Superman, Butterflies, Clowns, Mickey
Mouse and other Disney Characters on them (very appealing to
young children). These stamps are packaged in a red cardboard
box wrapped in foil.... A red stamp called Red Pyramid is
also being distributed along with Micro Dots in various colors
and another, that can be cut out, called Window Pane which
has an acid.(5)
...and another called Window Pane which has an acid that can
be cut out.(6)
[Hooking little kids]
This is a new way of selling acid by appealing to younger
children.... It was learned that little children could be
given a free tattoo by other children who want to have some
fun or by others cultivating new customers.(1)
This is a new way of selling acid and introduces severe
problems by appealing to our young children... It is also
learned that little children could be given a "free tattoo"
by older children who want to have some fun or by others
cultivating new drug customers.(5)
[Absorption through skin/Strychnine]
These are all laced with drugs. If you or your child see
any of the above do not handle! These drugs are known to
react very quickly and some are laced with strychnine.(1)
The LSD can also be absorbed through the skin simply by
handling the paper.... All of these drugs are known to
react very quickly and some have been laced with strychnine
which is a poisonous alkaloid.(5)
Younger children could happen upon these and have a fatal
"trip".... Symptoms: Hallucination, severe vomiting,
uncontrolled laughter, mood change, and change in body
El joven nino que estaria en posesion de estos sellos, poira
sufrir un TRIP (sobre dosis) mortal. Se teme tambien que
ninos con mas edad y que conozcan el efecto de la LSD den
un tatuaje en forme gratuita a los mas jovenes, con el
afan de divertirse con su reaccion al acido.(4)
A young child could happen upon these and have a fatal
"trip".... Symptoms are: 1. hallucinations, 2. severe
vomiting, 3. mood changes, 4. change of body temperature (5)
Get to the hospital as soon as possible and call the police.
Please Call your local RCMP if you come in contact with these
If you or your children see any of the above "DO NOT HANDLE"
notify your local police department.(6)
(1) -- found in Gander, Newfoundland
(2) -- "Muy Importante (Para la gente que tinen ninos)"
From Spain, but not in proper European Spanish
(3) -- "Drogen gefahr fur Kinder!!" source unknown
(4) -- Posted as "official notice" in U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru
11 October 1988
(5) -- On the letterhead of Merchants Bancorp, Inc. (Pennsylvania)
10 March 1989
(6) -- Muhlenberg College Faculty and Staff Parents
5 February 1989
(7) -- "look, listen, and learn"
(8) -- "Attention Parents" found in Los Angeles
| David Langness, the [Hospital Council of Southern California] association's
| vice president of communications, said the warning was then mailed to
| all member hospitals. "When we hear about these things, we don't
| attempt to confirm or deny them," he said. "We simply send it out to
| emergency rooms across the region in case they see a medical problem
| associated with this kind of drug."
| -- Los Angeles Times, *** 9 December 1987 ***
| "They're like a chain letter," said David Langness, a spokesman for the
| Hospital Council of Southern California, which represents about 250
| hospitals in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and
| Santa Barbara counties. "They capitalize on anti-drug hysteria, and as
| far as we can determine, they are a total hoax."
| -- Los Angeles Times, *** 18 April 1992 ***
"We don't know where these come from, but they're bogus," said Ralph B.
Lochridge, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration's Los
Angeles office. "It's like UFO sightings. They show up everywhere."
-- Los Angeles Times, 18 April 1992
A spokeswoman for the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York says they
didn't print any leaflets about acid-laced sticker tattoos. "We had
absolutely nothing to do with it," she says. "The thing's a hoax!"
-- The Gander Beacon, 17 October 1990
"I haven't seen LSD in the streets in years," said Riverside County
Sheriff's Detective Carla Gordon. "We don't know the source of the
notice. We don't know the purpose."
-- Los Angeles Times, 9 December 1987
HOW DO THEY SPREAD???
Well-meaning folks see the fliers, which have enough of a smell of truth
about them, and feel as if they are doing a good deed by spreading the
story around. After a few bad xeroxes, the fliers get retyped. The new
versions are usually slightly different, which enables urban-legend fans
to track the progress and origin of new epidemics through pseudo-genetic
"You feel like if it's happening, you want to let parents know. We
didn't make a big issue of it, but we wanted to pass it along."
-- Eileen Deck, Principal of St. Anthony's Catholic School
in El Segundo, Calif.
"I was really concerned about this. I photocopied it and gave it out to
-- Rose Walsh, worker at Gander Daycare
"With drugs, if you're going to err, it's better to do so on the side of
-- Carla Gordon, Riverside County, Calif., Sheriff's Detective
"I felt that if it was something that concerned the safery and
well-being of our students, then the parents ought to know about it."
-- King Walker, Principal of Normandie Christian School in
South Central Los Angeles, Calif.
"I was shocked. I thought about the youngsters and the children who are
entrusted to me. My spontaneous reaction prevented me from verifying
the veracity of this `information.' My good faith was abused and I may
have been careless."
-- Pr. Jasmin, a dentisty professor in Nice, France.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank