Born in Marseille, France in 1857, Joseph Pujol was a natural entertainer, singer and dancer. He introduced petomanie to the Moulin Rouge and became the first flatulence musician.
It was during national service that Joseph Pujol discovered his unusual talent for petomanie, or farting. As a crude entertainment for his comrades, he would inhale vast quantities of water through his rear, expelling it in a giant fountain. 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.
Billed as ‘Le Pétomane’, Pujol gave his first professional performance in 1887, aged 30, at the Boulevard Chavre. It was an immediate success. He developed the act in the provinces until he reached Paris in 1892. Insisting on seeing no one else, he persuaded the director of the Moulin Rouge, M Vidler, to engage him. From the first night he was a sensation.
He took the stage in a costume of red coat, a red silk collar and black satin breeches. He began by explaining each impersonation that was to follow. “This is a little girl… this is a bride on her wedding night (small noise) … the morning after (loud rasping noise) … a dressmaker tearing calico (ten seconds of ripping cloth) … and this a cannon (loud thunder).”
At first, the audience was astonished at the bizarre performance. 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.
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