(F)art imitates life

Mary
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Here at mental_floss we're sometimes accused of indulging in bathroom humor. Today, we're guilty as charged: There's a new musical on Broadway (or at least somewhere in the vicinity of Broadway), and it's all about a guy who farts a lot. That didn't surprise us. What we did find a little shocking is that it's based on a real guy who made a very fine living at flatulism. Joseph Pujol, known as "Le Petomane" (or "the Fartiste"), had a musical show of sorts at the Moulin Rouge from 1887 to 1914. He drew such a huge audience, including (in secret, of course) the King of Belgium, that at the height of his fame he was earning 20,000 francs a week -- about $208,000 a year in today's dollars, or two and a half times as much as his contemporary Sarah Bernhardt was making at the time.

Having explained that his emissions were odorless -- Le Petomane took care to irrigate his colon daily -- he would proceed with a program of fart impressions, as it were: the timid fart of the young girl, the hearty fart of the miller, the fart of the bride on her wedding night (almost inaudible), the fart of the bride a week later (a lusty raspberry), and a majestic 10-second fart which he likened to a couturier cutting six feet of calico cloth.

petomane5_sm.gifRather than limit himself to sound effects, Le Petomane was also known for extinguishing candles and stage footlights, smoking cigarettes, and playing "O sole mio" with the help of an ocarina, which is obviously a type of wind instrument. Wonder why he didn't show up in the Baz Luhrmann movie?

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August 16, 2006 - 10:07am
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