Monday, December 22, 2008

Joseph Pujol (1857-1945) - 'Le Petomane' of Le Moulin Rouge

I guess a lot of people think of Le Moulin Rouge in terms related (though perhaps somewhat removed) to things artistic - probably due to the lithographs of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.

While not aesthetically in the same league as the great can can dancer La Goulue (Louise Weber), Joseph Pujol was also pretty damn popular at the night club in the 1890's.

Joseph Pujol

His work and popularity more there than located that establishment at the grittier and Rabelaisian end of music hall spectrum!

Okay, I'll give you a hint as to his special 'talent':

Yep, you got it in one! The bending over pic is unmistakable. A fartist! A dying breed, if ever they were anything else but.

Born in Marseilles, Pujol discovered his amazing facility swimming in the sea as a child. He could - at will - take in large quantities of water and - equally at will - expel it.

Of course water turned to air and after his debut in Paris in 1887 and some touring of the provinces, he went very big time at Le Moulin Rouge in 1892 - becoming an instant sensation.

Each emission of the performance would be properly introduced:

This is a little girl

This is a bride on her wedding night (small noise)

This is a bride the morning after (much larger rasping noise)

This is a cannon (very large noise)

And so on, with the audience apoplectic with laughter. No high art going on here!

And of course Pujol had his pièce de résistance - blowing out candles:

Curiously, a descendant of Philipe Gallant, Pujol's assistant, claims to have the first 'explosion' of the De Sousa march 'Stars and Stripes' - captured at Le Moulin Rouge 5 February 1906:

I know you will expect this next bit!

Rare disque ODEON 19 cm N°6219 Monsieur LEFIRES Le célèbre Pétomane PARIS 1903

You'd imagine that Pujol would've faded into total obscurity after his death in 1945, but his life is the subject of a short film by Leonard Rossiter - 'Le Petomane' (1979) ...

Extract from 'Le Petomane' (1979)

... and of this French song ...

French Song

Now I always thought the appreciation of flatulence was mainly an English thing. Along with other kinds of toilet humour. But a quick YouTubing shows it as global phenomenon!

So a few clips to make the point:

Not sure bout the veracity of the the last one - but do we care!

If you claim not to have laughed during any of these - you are DEFINITELY LYING!!!!


  1. I wonder just how much you can get paid for being a "fartist"? lol
    Where the heck you came up with this idea? LOL

    Anyway, loved that japanese (or chinese?) one the most. I can't help but wonder what really was going on.

  2. hey again greg

    i guess the going union rates!

    korean - i refuse to believe it's other than real (LOL) - cos there are so many of them on YouTube - and i guess out of all the newscasts there'll be a number of wind-assisted ones!

  3. I first read about petomaines nearly twenty years ago in magician Ricky Jay's book "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women". The world was a much more interesting place before Nintendo.

  4. hey anon

    intrigued by the title of that book!

    i think i first heard about petomanes in 'Ripley's Believe It or Not' compendium - and i seem to recall a candle snuffing image

    whenever i get too pompous i remind myself how much i like this kind of thing - of course i like other things too!


  5. "You shall never again dally in my nether regions"

    What a line!

  6. hey victor

    not an expression i'll be using ... in the near future at least