Most of us view farting as a problem… but there was a man who made himself famous and – believe it or not – popular with flatulence. The man was Joseph Pujol (more well-known by his performing name, Le Pétomane), a man of extraordinary gas-passing talent, and he was born in Marseilles, France in 1857.
Whenever guests came over to his parents’ house as a youth, Joseph Pujol sing, dance, and act as he exercised his natural entertainer talents. He was also a trombone player, and it seemed a talent with a wind instrument was a foreshadowing of Pujol’s future farting fame.
One day, at the seaside, the future Le Pétomane decided to go for a quick swim in the somewhat cold water. While standing in the water, he took a deep breath before ducking under. As he sucked in air through his mouth, he also – not on purpose – sucked in icy water through his bottom end. Like any of us would, he quickly headed back to shore and was amazed, if not a little scared, to see a torrent of seawater leaving his body via his… well… anus.
Instead of turning his back on this new-found ability and trying to ignore it, Le Pétomane bravely and creatively started experimenting. Squatting over a large basin, he realized that with a little practice he could suck in water and then expel it, in a stream, for several meters (yards). Later – maybe after getting tired of mopping up – he tried the same thing with air. It worked.
Not only did it work… he managed to put the art in fart. With internal contortions, Le Pétomane could change the pressure and velocity of his farts, resulting in distinct note. Yes, Joseph Pujol was now a hit among his classmates as he played simple melodies with his anus.
Later, as an adult, Le Pétomane – by the way, the rough translation of Le Pétomane from French to English is the Fartiste – starting entertaining another group of people. While he was enlisted in the army, his fellow fighters were entertained with his below the belt musical talents. They later bestowed on him the nickname Le Pétomane, which roughly translates from French to English as The Fartiste.
After his military service, the farting entertainer made his way back home to open a bakery. Le Pétomane would occasionally entertain his bakery customers by imitating musical instruments with his farting, while claiming to be playing them behind the confection-filled counter. However, the routine life of a baker, and a desire to be the center of attention led him to dabble in show business. Trying to take the high road, the master farter decided to improve and present his trombone skills. The response was less than enthusiastic.
In 1887, placing performance before pride, and attention above acceptance, the now 30-year old Le Pétomane took a chance and hit the stage in Marseilles. At first, when people heard about The Fartiste, they assumed it was a simple (and perhaps vulgar) novelty act. However, word of mouth quickly spread the gaseous greatness of his routine and he was quickly playing to packed houses. A good fart can clear the room, but a great farter can fill an auditorium!
After five years of building his routine, Joseph Pujol attempted to break new ground while breaking wind and presented farting as entertainment at the famous and infamous Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Le Pétomane would take to the stage in elegant dress, including a red coat, white gloves, and black satin pants. The audience knew they were in for something different when the act started with The Fartiste explaining that his farts would be odorless (he rinsed his colon with water before performing).
His years of fart development added more than just music to his flatulence and he would begin his performance with fart impressions. Impressions? Yes. The shy fart of a newly-married bride, followed by the large, flapping butt blasts she would be making a week later. The farting would include those of various tradespeople and famous celebrities… imitations of cannons being fired… rolling thunder… a variety of tunes… and a ten-second long fart. Look at a clock and time it – a 10-second fart is impressive! But if all that didn’t leave people in awe, he could also blow out candles.
Of course the audience was “blown away” to begin with and didn’t know how to react? But puzzlement quickly turned to laughter and it’s been reported that men laughed so hard they cried and women laughed so hard that they couldn’t breathe in the corsets of the time and passed out.
Once this initial passing of air had the audience gasping for air, Le Pétomane moved on to even more fantastic farting. He would momentarily step offstage where he could tactfully insert a small rubber hose into his rectum. With the hose protruding from a hole in the back of his pants he would return to the stage. Le Pétomane was then able to smoke two cigarettes at once – on in his mouth and the other, well, not in his mouth. He would walk the front of the stage and playfully blow out the flames of the stage lights. Finally, knowing the value of audience participation, Le Pétomane would place the end of the hose in an ocarina and get the crowd to sing along to the popular songs he then played.
Le Pétomane was quickly the talk of Paris and known across Europe. His fart fan club included King Leopold II, Edward, Prince of Wales, and Sigmund Freud. Using his unique farting skills, he, at one point, became the highest-paid entertainer in France (nothing to raise your nose at). To protect their interests, the Moulin Rouge had Joseph Pujol sign a contract that restricted his performances to their stage. In 1895, the Moulin Rouge sued Le Pétomane for a short, impromptu fart performance he gave to try and raise money for a friend in trouble.
But when you have a talent like Le Pétomane’s, you can’t hold it in. Pujol opened his own theater and carried on successfully for almost another 20 years. The Moulin Rouge tried to recover by hiring a female farter – La Femme-Pétomane – but she turned out to be a farting fraud who used a bellows to move air.
During World War One, two of Joseph Pujol’s sons were injured and disabled. Whether or not that was the reason, Le Pétomane left the stage at the same time and returned to baking.
Le Pétomane died at the ripe old age of 88. Earlier, he had agreed to allow medical science to examine his fart parts for a significant sum of money to be given to his family. However, in the end, his Joseph Pujol’s family turned down the money. The reason they gave was “there are some things in this life which simply must be treated with reverence.”
Obviously, considering how common it is to fart, Le Pétomane was not the only fart artist. Although it’s generally agreed Pujol was the most famous (and probably richest) flatulence as entertainment had been done before Le Pétomane and continued after. First century records mention performers who could fart while producing the sound of singing. Believe it or not both Ireland and Japan have a history of farting as entertainment. The Irish referred to them as Braigetori, and the Japanese watched fart dances called Oribe.
So, maybe you don’t have a PROBLEM with excessive farting, maybe you have an OPPORTUNITY!