When I Grow Up I Want To Be A (17)



You’ve got to make the most of what little talent you have, I always say. For those who are saddled with (or is it blessed) with excess wind and some muscle control, there is an intriguing career path you could take to harness your powers, that of a professional flatulist or farteur or fartiste.

Possibly the most famous professional farteur was one Joseph Pujol (1857 – 1945) who made a living from his control of his anal sphincter muscles. Le Petomane, as he was known, discovered his talent when he was swimming at sea. Putting his head under water and holding his breath he was astonished when ashore to find water pouring from his rear. Whilst in the army Pujol used to entertain his colleagues by sucking up water into his backside and projecting it several yards.

Debuting on stage in Marseilles in 1887 Pujol transferred to the Moulin Rouge five years later. His stage act featured sound effects of cannons and thunderstorms as well as musical renditions of O Sole Mio (oh, for an A) and La Marseillaise on an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus, as you do. His technique didn’t involve passing intestinal gas on stage, perhaps to the relief of those in the front seats, but instead moving air into his rectum and releasing it by controlling his muscles. Another party trick was to blow out candles with a blast from his posterior. He retired from the stage at the outbreak of the First World War.

But Pujol was just one of a number to make their living from farting publicly and on demand. One of the most successful was to be found in the court of the English king, Henry II. Henry was partial to a bit of riotous entertainment and the Christmas shindig featured one of the court jesters called Roland performed a dance which ended with “one jump, one whistle and one fart”, executed all at once. For this Roland, who was known as le Sarcere, le Fartere, le Petour and the Farter, was granted a manor house in Hemingstone in Suffolk and over 100 acres of land. Nice work if you can get it. Whether he was “blessed” with Pujol’s anatomical deviation or whether he was able to fart at will because of his diet is uncertain.


In Japan between 1603 and 1868 there were held what were known as Hegassens which can be loosely, although one hopes not too loosely, translated as fart battles. The contests if the illustrations in some scrolls are to be interpreted literally had the contestants bending over, pointing their backsides at their opponents and blasting away. It is not clear how the winner was determined, whether it was the last man standing or whether it was down to volume.

Volume was certainly the determining factor in the World Fart Championships held in 2013 in the Finnish town of Uttajarvi. Contestants dropped their trousers but kept their underpants on and then had thirty seconds, measured by an egg timer, in which to fart. There was a microphone under the seat on which they sat wired up to a decibel meter which recorded the volume. Each contestant had two goes and the winners were a pair of Russians, Vlad and Alex, whose efforts were enhanced by the consumption of a fermented drink made from rye bread called Kvass.

And if you are doubtful about the career prospects, there is Paul Oldfield aka Mr Methane, who still seems to be making a living from his talents, discovered, perhaps disconcertingly, when he was practising yoga.

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