A guitarist plays a guitar. A pacifist opposes violence. A cosmetologist is an expert with makeup. But a flatulist? That is a professional farter.
“You’re being disgusting,” you say.
No, I am not: I am speaking for fact. DJ, the elderly man I volunteer with every week, regaled me with a story about Le Pétomane, a French flatulist famous in early twentieth century Paris for his way with his musical anus. I went to look up more information on this legendary tooter and came across his profession and the world of flatulists. Understandably, I have not been disappointed by this incredible sideshow.
First, Le Pétomane, a man whose name translates more or less to “fart maniac,” was a Moulin Rouge headliner who learned as a child that his ass could do the opposite of its job: it could take in air. He finessed his talent to be able to imitate songs. His sonic ability was also apparently odorless since his means of production wasn’t via gastronomic or digestive means but from the air intake his ass learned how to eat (“eat”).
Don’t believe this? Well, Thomas Edison made a short film about him, featuring Pétomane tooting into a tube. Sadly, it is soundless.
Pétomane isn’t a lone agent in poots but actually fits into an ongoing history of flatulists like Roland The Farter, a noted medieval performer who served as King Henry II’s jester. Today, a Riddler looking man by the known of Mr. Methane appears to be the most well known working flatulist and has appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. If interested, you could even add his covers of Christmas songs to your holiday rotation. How lucky are we?
Today, the art of flatulism appears to be basically dead at the hands of the Internet. Atlas Obscura explains, in relationship to Mr. Methane’s waning appeal.
Though Oldfield’s act is almost tailor-made for social sharing, the new Internet era hasn’t been a positive. The constant stream of crazy online streaming clips has eliminated the need for clubs to book him. “While we’ve been chatting there will be all these people who’ve watched clips of me and that’s the mind-blowing thing about the internet—you’re being watched much more than you’d ever have been in the past,” he reflected. “Now you’re being watched and you’re not earning any money. It’s not even being exploited, it’s being consumed, and you’re not earning any money from it. It’s a strange one.”
Yet another thing that the tech world has disrupted: flatulism.
The human body is quite amazing and, when we do things to our asses, a lot of amazing things can be revealed. Like musical farts, a talent that is more than a parlor trick with quite a rich, ridiculous history.