From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Le Pétomane (pronounced /ləˈpɛtəmeɪn/, French
pronunciation: [ləpetɔˈman]) was the stage name of the French flatulist (professional farter) and
entertainer Joseph Pujol (June 1, 1857 - 1945). He
was famous for his remarkable control of the abdominal muscles, which enabled him to fart at will. His stage
name combines the French verb péter, "to fart" with the
suffix, which translates to "the fart maniac". The profession is
also referred to as "flatulist", "farteur", or "fartiste".
It is a common misconception to state that Joseph Pujol actually
farted as part of his stage performance. Farting implies the
release through the anus of intestinal gases. Pujol was "gifted" in
the sense that he was able to inhale air into his rectum and then
control the release of that air using his sphincter muscles.
Evidence of his ability to control those muscles can be seen in the
early accounts of demonstrations of his abilities to fellow
Joseph Pujol was born in Marseille. He was one of five children of
François (a stonemason and sculptor) and Rose Pujol. Soon after he
left school he had a strange experience while swimming in the sea.
He put his head under the water and held his breath, whereupon he
felt an icy cold penetrating his rear. He ran ashore in fright and
was amazed to see water pouring from his anus. A doctor assured him
that there was nothing to worry about.
When he joined the army he told his fellow soldiers about his
special ability, and repeated it for their amusement, sucking up
water from a pan into his rectum and then projecting it through his
anus up to several yards. He then found that he could suck in air
as well. Although a baker by
profession, Pujol would entertain his customers by imitating
musical instruments, and claim to be playing them behind the
counter. Pujol decided to try his talent on the stage, and debuted
in Marseille in 1887. After his act proved successful, he proceeded
to Paris, where he took the act
to the Moulin
Rouge in 1892.
Some of the highlights of his stage act involved sound effects
of cannon fire and thunderstorms, as well as playing "'O Sole Mio" and "La
Marseillaise" on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus. He
could also blow out a candle from several yards away.
His audience included Edward, Prince of Wales, King
Leopold II of the Belgians and Sigmund Freud.
In 1894, the managers of the Moulin Rouge sued Pujol for an
impromptu exhibition he gave to aid a friend struggling with
economic difficulties. For the measly sum of 3,000 francs (Pujol's
usual fee being 20,000 francs per show), the Moulin Rouge lost
their star attraction, who proceeded to set up his own traveling
show called the Theatre Pompadour.
In the following decade Pujol tried to 'refine' and make his
acts 'gentler'; one of his favourite numbers became a rhyme about a
farm which he himself composed, and which he punctuated with the
usual anal renditions of the animals' sounds. The climax of his act
however involved him farting his impression of the 1906 San Francisco
With the outbreak of World War I, Pujol, horrified by the
inhumanity of the conflict, retired from the stage and returned to
his bakery in Marseille. Later he opened a biscuit factory in Toulon. He died in 1945, aged
88, and was buried in the cemetery of La Valette-du-Var, where his grave
can still be seen today. The Sorbonne offered his family a large sum of
money to study his body after his death, but they refused the
- There is a musical based on his life called The
Fartiste which was awarded Best Musical at the 2006 New York
International Fringe Festival.
- Le Petomane was added to writer-producer David Lee's 2007 reworked revival of the 1953
Broadway play Can-Can, which had originally been
written by Abe Burroughs and Cole Porter. The updated play, staged at
the Pasadena Playhouse, featured musical
theater actor Robert Yacko as the fartiste, with sound effects
provided by the band's trombone and piccolo players.
- Paul Oldfield is a British fartiste who presently performs
under the name Mr.
Methane. He has appeared several times on The
Howard Stern Show.
- The 1999 Kinky
Friedman novel, Spanking Watson, makes frequent
reference to Le Petomane.
- Le Petomane was the name of a character in Sarah
Bynum's novel Madeleine is Sleeping.
- Johnny Depp has
mentioned in interviews in Playboy, Vogue (September 1994) and other
magazines that he would love to portray Pujol in a film.
- In the Two and a Half Men episode
"That Voodoo That I Do" the dance studio is called "les petites
petomanes" in his honour.
- One of the Hobo Names in John Hodgman's book The Areas of My
Expertise is Whistlin' Anus LePetomane
- In the Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats episode "Momma Trauma" (season 1,
episode 7), a psychologist's name is Dr. Lepetomaine.
- In Kevin
Gilbert's final musical work, The
Shaming of the True, credit for the horn parts is
attributed to "The Le Petomane Ensemble".
- Los Angeles-based Sherbourne Press published Jean Nohain and F.
Caradec's Le Petomane as a small hardcover English
language edition in 1967. Due to its ‘sensitive’ nature, the usual
national publicity venues shied away, some claiming that an author
was needed for interviews (both elderly writers lived in France).
However, ‘behind the curtain’ acceptance created a buzz within the
national radio/TV promotional circuit and word-of-mouth discussion
kept the book in stores for several years. Dorset Press, a division
& Noble, reissued the book in 1993.
- Ricky Jay discusses
Le Petomane in his book Learned Pigs and Fireproof
- Jim Dawson
included a chapter on Le Petomane in his book Who Cut the
Cheese? (Ten Speed Press, 1999) and a chapter on the various
films about Le Petomane in Blame It on the Dog
- Simon & Schuster released a
2008 children's book about his life called The Fartiste
written by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer and
illustrated by Boris Kulikov.
- Ian MacNaughton made a 1979 short humorous film, written by Galton and
Simpson called Le Petomane, based on Pujol's story and
starring veteran comic actor Leonard Rossiter.
- The 1983 Italian movie Il Petomane, starring Ugo Tognazzi, gives a
poetic rendition of the character, contrasting his deep longing for
normalcy with the condition of 'freak' to which his act relegated
- Le Petomane is the title of a 1998 mockumentary by Igor Vamos that
examines Joseph Pujol's place in history through archival films
(none of which actually include him), historical documents,
photographs, recreations and fake or tongue-in-cheek
- Le Pétomane: Parti Avec Le Vent is a 2005 short film
based on Pujol's life, starring Ben Wise. It was written, produced
and directed by Steve Ochs.
- Le Petomane was a minor character, played by Australian actor
Keith Robinson, in Baz
Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge.
- In his 1974 film Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks plays the part
of "Governor William J. LePetomane".
- Le Petomane 1857-1945 by Jean Nohain and F. Caradec;
translated by Warren Tute. Sherbourne Press (1967)
- Le Petomane 1857-1945 by Jean Nohain and F. Caradec;
translated by Warren Tute. Dorset Press (1993)