Le Pétomane: The Awesome Absurdity of France’s Top Flatulist

Le Pétomane (Joseph Pujol)
Indeed.

Joseph Pujol (1857—1945) has a life story so ridiculous we couldn’t ignore it any longer. The entertainer was one of a kind, in the grand scheme of scatology.

The Life Story of Le Pétomane

Le Pétomane standing ready to perform a fart
Le Pétomane.

When we were growing up, we had Bottom and various other shows. Back in the 19th century, folks had a one man miracle.

Joseph Pujol was born in Marseille. When he was swimming in the French ocean as a young man, he discovered something rather alarming.

For some reason, he had a rectum with super strength muscles. And could suck water/whatever up into his backside, before squirting it considerable distances.

He showed this off to his mates when he was in the army.

Plus, also when he ran a baker’s shop. He’d entertain his customers with his spectacular bowel abilities—imitating instruments etc.

His customers were so wowed by this, Pujol decided to turn himself into a freak show stage act (they were very popular in the 19th century).

His first show was in 1887 in Marseilles. He chose the stage name Le Pétomane, which apparently translates into English as “Fart Maniac”.

After early success, he shifted over to Paris and actually began performing at the Moulin Rouge. His first show was there in 1892. His act consisted of using his backside to:

  • Create thunder and cannon fire sound effects.
  • Playing tunes such as O Sole Mio and La Marseillaise through an ocarina attached to his rectum.
  • Blowing out a candle from many yards away.
  • Performing his own compositions, such as one about a farm (where his backside would mimic animals).

There’s even a recording of him in action from 1900. Tragically, the sound for this video (if it ever even existed) is now lost to history.

If the YouTube channel with this clip is to be believed, Thomas Edison took this recording with his remarkable new invention.

He also intended to blast foul smells in around the recording (along with audio clips). However, apparently his plans never came to fruition.

And it’s not like his act was reserved for lowlife riffraff. Some of the luminaries who came to see/hear him included:

  • Edward, Prince of Wales
  • King Leopold II of the Belgians
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Thomas Edison (allegedly)

However, when World War I kicked off the great Fart Maniac had to call it a day and returned to his life as a baker.

He was still young then, of course, as he lived to the age of 88 in 1945. If you want, you can visit his grave in La Valette-du-Var.

And this also kind of rubbishes the idea the likes of reality TV and all that is lowbrow and the olden days were more sophisticated.

The next time you see Love Island on TV, remember that in 1900 they had the Fart Maniac. Sophistication.

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