Mental Floss

(F)art imitates life

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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.

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