Blue Man Group, the percussive performance art troupe which prefers actions to words, was forced to speak out today after an audience member selected to participate filed a suit for what he says was rough treatment.
James Srodon, a 62-year-old grandfather who took his 8-year-old grandson to the raucous (and messy) show, was selected by the Blue Men for their “Esophagus Cam” stunt, which has the actors shoving a camera in the mouth of an audience member as video on a large screen shows what appears to be the esophageal probe first-hand. From the audience, it looks like the camera is being stuffed down the guy’s throat, but BMG had to give up the ghost in a statement today by noting the video actually cuts to pre-recorded medical footage.
Blue Man’s senior director of press in New York, Laura Camien, and a Chicago PR firm, Carol Fox & Associates, said in the statement that the production company is “shocked and surprised” and explained the illusion in the skit. They also noted the show has been performed more than 50,000 times to more than 12 million people. “We are disappointed that this false claim forces us to reveal the truth behind one of our most popular theatrical devices,” read the statement. It continued:
"Esophagus Video" is simply an illusion. A camera is held in an actor's hands, the actor's hands are placed near an audience member's mouth (not on or in). The live-feed video screen then switches to a pre-recorded medical video, resulting in the hilarious and absurd illusion that the audience is peering down an individual's esophagus. Because the camera never enters the mouth, the execution of this illusion could not possibly put anyone at risk of injury.
Srodon is not amused and says he was held down as the Blue Men jammed a camera in his mouth resulting in “a throat contusion, missing fillings and emotional distress,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was just such a horrible experience," Srodon told the paper. "I was just trying to get free, and I couldn't get free. . . . It seemed sadistic to me."