Joseph Pujol was born in Marseille in 1857 and during his life became the first known performing flatulist.
Joseph was a normal boy born into a typical French family and at the age of 13 he was apprenticed to a baker. Joseph went onto complete his training and his father set him up with his own shop. Shortly after leaving school Joseph accidentally discovered his hidden talent during a day trip to the beach.
Whilst diving under the water he felt an icy cold sensation penetrating his rear, frightened Joseph ran ashore and he was amazed to sense water pouring from his anus. Following the trip Joseph went to see his doctor who assured him there was nothing wrong.
Joseph was then called up to the army to complete his national service, he told his fellow troops about his unique talent and repeated it for their amusement by sucking up water from a pan and projecting it several yards.
After many years in the bakery Joseph decided to put his talents to the test by trying them out on stage, and he first performed in Marseille in 1887 at the Boulevard Chavre. The act was that well received he moved to Paris and went onto perform at the Moulin Rouge in 1892.
On his arrival to Paris Joseph walked straight into the Moulin Rouge and demanded to see the director, he did this with such confidence the secretary showed him in immediately.
The director was that impressed with Pujol that he put him on stage that night. The performance was an instant hit and several tightly corsetted women fainted from laughing so hard at his routine. Pujol went under the stage name of Le Petomane which translates as – ‘fart maniac’.
Some of the highlights of his act included him making sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms, as well as playing an Ocanina (a type of flute) and blowing out candles from several yards away. The performances were drawing larger and larger crowds and even attracted royalty in the form of Edward, Prince Of Wales & King Leopold II of Belgium.
During the peak of his residency at Moulin Rouge they took over 20,000 francs for a Sunday performance, this dwarfed the takings of even the best performers of that era by over 12,000 francs.
In 1894 the owners of Moulin Rouge sued Le Petomane after he gave an un-authorized street performance of his act to help a friend who was struggling financially. This caused tension between Pujol and Moulin Rouge and in the same year he left to set up his own traveling show called The Theatre Pompadour.
Pujol stopped performing in 1914 horrified by the inhumanity of the First World War conflict. He returned to his bakery in Marseille and later opened a biscuit factory in Toulon.
Pujol’s wife died in 1930 and he went onto outlive her for another 15 years before dying himself in 1945. A leading Paris medical school offered the family 25,000 francs to be allowed to examine his body, but out of respect and love for their father not one of the children agreed to the request.
Up until recent years nobody has tried to continue his legacy of being a performing flatulist until Paul Oldfield under the stage name of Mr Methane in 1991.
Paul discovered his talent when practicing yoga as a 15 year old boy, the next day he performed for a group of his friends. His routine was that popular he made it into a regular event.
After training to become a train driver Oldfield turned professional performing as the opening act for two local bands from Macclesfield, he then went on to travel to New York to be a guest on the Howard Stern show and also performed on Broadway.
In the 1990′s Mr Methane had a run in with Phil Collins’s management who refused to grant him permission to release a parody version of ‘In The Air Tonight’.
Mr Methane also auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 but failed to make it to the live finals despite the majority of the judges laughing hysterically at his act. He also holds the unofficial record for the longest fart ever recorded of approx. 59 seconds in length.
In 2014 Mr Methane guest starred on The Gadget Show where he put Shreddies to the test and gave them a 10 out of 10 rating.
Shreddies | Cotes Mill, Loughborough, United Kingdom