In A Nutshell
Joseph Pujol, also known as Le Petomane, had a unique talent: He could fart as often as he wanted because he had complete control of his anal muscles. After discovering his talent and realizing that others found it hilarious, he began to perform for audiences. Before long he was headlining at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, and was one of the most popular acts in France at that time.
The Whole Bushel
Joseph Pujol originally discovered his gift on accident, and he certainly didn’t consider it a gift at the time. While swimming in the sea during his childhood, he experienced an icy cold sensation entering his bowels. He got out of the water with the intention of employing his mother’s help, but was shocked to find water coming from his anus. Thoroughly embarrassed, he did not tell anyone until years later when serving in the French military.
Surrounded only by men, he felt free to share the strange story from his childhood, and was encouraged by the other men to try doing it again. During a visit to the sea he succeeded in performing the feat again, much to the delight of his companions. So, he began to practice his unusual talent in private. He would use a basin to pull water in and out, and after mastering water, he began to practice with air.
Since he could control the tightness of his anus, he could produce a range of notes. And because he was drawing in fresh air and then pushing it back out, none of his farts smelled. Soon he could reproduce nearly any fart he wanted. He could even produce sounds other than farts, such as that of a seamstress tearing fabric.
When he got home from the military he resumed his family life and business as a baker, but added some entertaining to it. This primarily consisted of singing, short acts, and playing trombone at a local theater. Eventually he worked some of his farting into an act, but didn’t expand upon it until pressured to do so by friends. Renting a theater of his own, he put on a full show and became an instant success. He took on the stage name Le Petomane (“The Fartiste”), left his bakery in the care of his family, and hit the road.
He traveled briefly, putting on shows in larger cities, and in 1892 he arrived in Paris. He auditioned at the Moulin Rouge, the most famous nightclub in the world at the time, and was (once again) an instant success. Before long he was headlining and giving private performances to small groups of wealthy people.
His typical show would begin with his imitations of ladies’ farts. Polite farts for a little girl, sliding farts for a mother-in-law, a miniscule fart for the bride on the wedding night, and then a raunchy one for the morning after. Then would come an imitation of fabric ripping, thunder, and cannon fire. Eventually he would use a tube, which passed through his pocket into his rectum, to smoke a cigarette and play a slide flute while singing along. His audiences laughed so hard that the owner of the Moulin Rouge hired nurses to attend to the corset-wearing ladies who would inevitably pass out from lack of air. At the end of his performance he would invite his audience to stand up and join him in a final fart, and they gladly did so.
He performed his act all over Europe to small audiences of men while wearing pants with a cutout and was especially popular in Belgium. The King of Belgium even attended one of his performances, although he did so with some secrecy.
Until around 1900, Le Petomane was among the most popular entertainers in Europe. He continued to perform until the beginning of World War I when four of his sons left to fight. After the war he returned to his hometown of Marseille, where he ran several bakeries until his death in 1945 at the age of 88.