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Professional Farters

Article #57 • Written by Alan Bellows

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Joseph Pujol, a man of singular talent, was born in Marseilles, France in 1857. In his early youth it became clear that he was a natural entertainer, singing, dancing, and performing for his parents' house guests. He had a love for music, and over the years he became handy with a trombone, but it was a different wind instrument that led to his eventual fame and fortune.

Young Joseph became alarmed one day when he was swimming in the sea, and took a deep breath before submerging. As he inhaled, he felt icy cold water entering through his rear end. He immediately returned to shore, and was astonished to see a great deal of seawater pouring from his backside. A doctor assured him that this was nothing to be concerned about, and it seems that Joseph took this advice to heart, exploring his strange new ability with a healthy curiosity.

He soon found that with a little abdominal control, he could deliberately suck water in through his anus, and project it back out with impressive force, creating a spout of several meters. Further experimentation led him to discover that he could also suck in large amounts of air if he contorted himself properly, which he could let out at will. He was also able to use varying pressures to produce distinct notes, allowing him to reproduce simple tunes. Needless to say, he became very popular at school as a result. But little did he know that this unique talent would one day make him the most well-known and most highly paid entertainer in all of France.

While Joseph was in the army he amused his fellow soldiers with his lowbrow tricks, and they gave him the nickname "Le Pétomane," which translates roughly to "fartiste." When he left the service he opened a bakery in Marseilles which was reputed to bake some of the finest bran muffins in the south of France, but he started a foray into show business when he began to feel restless. At first he resisted using his unique physiology in his stage comedy act, instead trying the "yokel with the trombone" routine, but the fartiste within him could not be contained.

In 1887 at age 30, "Le Pétomane" first took the stage in Marseilles. The initial attempt was met with some skepticism, since "petomanie" (or "fartistry") was something of a novelty for the French. But he quickly won the audience over, and was a big success. He developed his act locally for about five years, then went on to Paris to try for the infamous Moulin Rouge. He succeeded.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I have the honor to present a session of Petomanie." Such was his introduction at the famous vanity theater on his first night. He was very finely dressed in a red coat and black satin breeches, with a pair of white gloves held in his hands. He looked quite sophisticated as he explained to the audience that the emissions he was about to produce were completely odorless, since he irrigated his colon daily. The audience was completely unprepared for what lay ahead. And so he began.

He started off with a series of fart impressions... a new bride's timid toot; her noisy, flapping emissions a week later; the solid, booming fart of a miller; and a majestic ten-second-long helping of flatulence to wrap up his introduction. He did impressions of famous people, he played songs, and he blew out candles. He did imitations of cannon fire, and reenacted a thunderstorm. And that was just the first portion of the show.

At first, the audience was astonished at the bizarre spectacle. But when the first uncontrollable laughter erupted from the crowd, it quickly spread throughout the theater. Soon the men and women were completely paralyzed with laughter, with tears streaming down their cheeks. A number of women passed out, unable to breathe in their tightly bound corsets, and had to be escorted from the theater by nurses.

For the second part of his act, he stepped offstage and inserted a rubber tube into his orifice, which dangled out of a hole in the back of his trousers. His used the tube to smoke two cigarettes at once, one from each end; to blow out the flames of stage lights; and as a grand finale, he attached an ocarina to the end of the hose, and played popular tunes while inviting the audience to sing along.

Overnight, Le Pétomane was a huge success. He used his unique physiology to entertain in this way for years, eventually becoming the highest paid entertainer in all of France, and perhaps the world. He parted ways with the Moulin Rouge in 1895 when the owner of the theater sued him for breach of contract after he fart-serenaded a few people in public, but he was quickly replaced by a female, bellows-powered fraud... La Femme-Pétomane.

Joseph opened a theater of his own and enjoyed many more years of success, until two of his sons were disabled in World War 1 in 1914. At that point he gave up the stage and went back to baking, and let his rectum content itself with more conventional pursuits. He died, aged 88 years, in 1945. When a medical school in Paris requested the privilege of examining the late Le Pétomane's famous anus, the family declined, stating, "there are some things in this life which simply must be treated with reverence."

Though Le Pétomane was perhaps the most famous fartiste, he was not the first to ply the farting trade... professional flatulism has a long and rich history throughout the world. In the De Civitate Dei, written about halfway through the first century A.D., Saint Augustine mentions some performers who possessed "such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at will, so as to produce the effect of singing." As other examples, medieval Ireland had professional farters called "braigetori," and the Japanese Kamakura period (1185–1333) had professional performers of fart dances called Oribe.

A contemporary flatulist, perhaps the only representative of his trade today, is Mr. Methane. He clearly lacks Le Pétomane's class, but he can certainly break a wind. Dressing in a cape and mask, he has the appearance of a superhero (or supervillain), though whether the force of his farts is sufficient to allow him flight is doubtful. But be warned, if you spend much time reading his website, your world will turn pink.

(The word "fart" occurs 13 times in this article).

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 26 November 2005. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

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Bob Cheese
Posted 26 November 2005 at 05:29 am

Great article. Thanks for some insight into the mysterious phenomenon of the fart ;-)

Posted 26 November 2005 at 05:31 am

I am embarrassed to say...I had heard of Joseph Pujol before. (PBS? NOVA? How do I know this "crap".) My Dad told me they had a guy in his Army Unit that would always light his farts.

Posted 26 November 2005 at 05:39 am

He would sometimes invite a lucky guest from the audience to the stage, then ask him to "pull his finger."

Bryan Lowder
Posted 26 November 2005 at 09:54 pm

Dangit, Alan! You got here first! I had this one in mind for a while...

I think you did better with it than I would have, though. I shan't speculate why.

Posted 26 November 2005 at 11:51 pm

Nice scented article. Had a stench about it. Just goes to show that an old fart can make money too. Well gotta blow errrr go ....... no just finish. Pull my finger and watch you disappear ........ but fast.

Posted 22 December 2005 at 01:09 pm

I can do that ...

I have that power ... it made me very popular in elmentary school... I am in college now and its fun at parties.. but i never guessed you could make good money doing it... I'm moving to France, haha.

Willie Coleman
Posted 27 December 2005 at 11:42 pm

Much as I love this F-article, I am totally amazed that no-one has mentioned the name of the person that submitted this wonderful piece, Alan Bellows. How appropriate!

Posted 24 June 2006 at 09:55 am

I think that article went too fart.

Posted 04 September 2006 at 01:50 pm

Is that what my redneck cowboy buddy was talking about when he told me, "Blow it out chore' ace, Bubba!" ??

Posted 04 September 2006 at 03:23 pm

"Damn disgusting" is a better title.

another viewpoint
Posted 04 September 2006 at 05:22 pm

Credhawk said: ""Damn disgusting" is a better title."

All's well that ends well...even if it all comes out in the end. Get a life and have some fun...taking life too seriously can be hazardous to your health!

D Hall
Posted 04 September 2006 at 05:52 pm

Many years ago, in Mel Brooks' movie "Blazing Saddles", there was a character, Governor William J. LePetomaine, played by Brooks, himself.

Knowing Mel Brooks' love of crude-yet-erudite humor, I wondered about the significance of this name.
Several years later, I found a wonderful little bio entitled "Le Petomaine" in a used book store. Unusual career aside, he was a very interesting fellow.

Posted 04 September 2006 at 09:06 pm

Ah, bad fart puns, its like elementary school all over again ;-)

Posted 04 September 2006 at 09:18 pm

May the gas flow free...

Posted 05 September 2006 at 04:19 am

Disgusting. Some people clearly never grow up.

Posted 05 September 2006 at 05:10 am

If I could "fart" my way to fame and fortune, I'd surely do it, and DAMN those of you who would speak ill of me for it!!

Dave Group
Posted 05 September 2006 at 05:54 am

Damn interesting, but could he fart the alphabet? And what was his high school science project-- "Gases From Uranus"? :D

Posted 05 September 2006 at 07:42 am

Well I'll be farted.....

Posted 05 September 2006 at 03:38 pm

Coincidentally there was just a new show about this guy in New York. It was part of the Fringe Festival.

Posted 06 September 2006 at 06:21 am

My four year old grandson loves to come and sit upon our laps, cut one, and jump off giggling, with the announcement, "I farted!" We nicknamed him the fart terrorist, and now he is known as 'Bin Pharteen'.

Posted 06 September 2006 at 10:19 am

I'm sorry-- but pre-show irrigation or not, he HAD to have had some 'accidents'.

How many times at work I created a typo or other error-- imagine what happened at the Moulin Rouge after a hearty Indian meal!

Maybe he was born with a cloaca?

Posted 06 September 2006 at 08:58 pm

Happy Birthday to one of my favorite sites. I have learned a lot here and bore my friends with the good info here.

Posted 08 September 2006 at 02:48 am

Great article! Highly amusing.

grey matter
Posted 10 September 2006 at 06:35 am

well i an say that he will never have a problem if he is stuck in a motor boat with a spoilt motor at the middle of the sea.

(use ur imagination)

Posted 10 September 2006 at 12:26 pm

The bible mentions nothing about farting--or France for that matter. Clearly this never happened.

:) Interesting article. How did I miss this last year!?

Posted 11 September 2006 at 07:51 pm

Put that guy on a small island with other similarly talented folks and you have a future season of Survivor.

Posted 23 September 2006 at 07:47 am

I presume that when he was a soldier, he darted into the foe, while as a baker, he farted into the dough?

Posted 25 September 2006 at 12:30 pm

My fave flatulist was Montaigne:

Montaigne, in his essay "Of the Force of Imagination", includes a discussion of flatulence. Of "the vessels that serve to discharge the belly", he writes "I myself knew one so rude and ungoverned, as for forty years together made his master vent with one continued and unintermitted outbursting, and 'tis like will do so till he die of it"[17].

Additionally, who doesn't love Ben Franklin fart stories? Classic!!

Posted 25 September 2006 at 12:50 pm

As an aside, during this early time frame, Lysol was also known to put "recipes" for douche on their bottles. That stuff will strip paint and degrease a stove, I can't imagine someone thinking it would be gentle or vag-friendly enough for "washing one's delicates."

Posted 13 October 2006 at 02:14 am

The British film of 1979, 'Le Petomane' depicted the life of Jospeh Pujol. Occasionally shown on British TV - though haven't seen it for a good few years.

Incidentally, Pujol was played by the late great Leonard Rossiter.

What the viewing public will make of the George Clooney remake I don't know.
Clooney is to take the part of Pujol in the Hollywood remake. They are still trying to decide what the title of the film should be, as 'The Fartiste' and 'Le Petomane' won't put bums on seats!

More about this story here:

Posted 25 October 2006 at 09:15 pm

Q: What happens when you eat beans and peanut butter...?

A: You get a fart that sticks to the roof of your ass!

Posted 15 November 2006 at 02:26 am

iv heard about this guy before

Posted 26 December 2006 at 03:47 pm

I'm surprised he was replaced by a woman. Men fart alot, but not women. They can't keep their mouth shut long enough to let the pressure build.

Posted 31 December 2006 at 12:39 am

JoJo said: "I'm surprised he was replaced by a woman. Men fart alot, but not women. They can't keep their mouth shut long enough to let the pressure build."

if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all.

King Randall
Posted 31 December 2006 at 05:20 am

I believe the first time I heard of someone being able to control the intake and expulsion of air through one's anus on command, the act was referred to as a "grimmace". Like the big purple whatever-the-shit he was that used to hang around with Ronald McDonald. By the by, whatever happened to all those lovable tramps? Seems Ronald had a falling out with the others, perhaps? Hamburglar is probably doing some hard time. I'll have to go with prostitution/meth for the bird-girl hybrid, and heavy drug/alcohol abuse for good ol' Grimmace. I hope for his sake that he never learns of his name being synonymous with anal-trickery. It could be the last straw in the post-Ronald-shell-of-a-life he's maintained so far.

Nicki the Heinous
Posted 13 August 2007 at 11:25 am

I can do this with belches . . can't everyone?

Posted 05 April 2008 at 04:40 pm

That's some amazing talent!

One of my friends let go with one several years ago that sounded like a whippoorwill and I let one go that sounded like a duck a few minutes ago, but our "talkents" can't hold a candle (or a match) to this guy. One of my friends told me that, when he was in high school, he once let one go and timed it, and the duration was (as I recall) 20 seconds!

Posted 13 July 2008 at 09:53 am

I wonder if he's one of my relatives. I've been called a walking fart machine!! I can be seen with my fartoons on my space under flatch!!! This little ditty is to the tune of " I love to laugh" from mary poppins..."..I love to fart, loud and long and clear. The more I fart, the more I'm a merrier me!" or to " the drinking mans diet" by Allen Sherman" fart, fart, everyone fart. it's hard to stop, once you start! With every good fartin'stink out them that's smartin', so fart, fart, fart!"

Posted 04 October 2011 at 10:42 pm

Damn Intestines!

heracleum mantegazziani
Posted 26 June 2014 at 08:02 am

Years ago, while visiting France, my father was seen by a doctor, who rather enthusiastically wrote him a prescription for suppositories to treat his bronchitis. Seriously, what is the deal with the French and anuses?

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