The real name of the man in the photograph was Joseph Pujol, but most of the world knew him as Le Pétomane. He was the most eminent "Flatulist" of his day (although I’ve no idea how many of them there actually were).
You’re probably asking yourselves “Flatulist? Does that mean what I think it means?” Yes, yes…he farted for a living, but to say that Le Pétomane could break wind is like saying Enrico Caruso could carry a tune. It simply doesn’t do justice to the man’s artistry.
Yet today he is all but forgotten, his genius unrecognized. So saddened was I by this injustice that I’m writing a play that I’m hoping will revive the reputation of the great Le Pétomane:
Setting: Le Pétomane has been in Paris for a year and is the toast of the town. He is meeting with Toulouse- Lautrec at the Moulin Rouge to discuss having a poster made for his upcoming tour.
Le Pétomane: Thank you for agreeing to do this Henri
Lautrec: Think nothing of it. You know, coming over here I was thinking about how we met. Remember… I was sitting right over there and you blew my hat off from ten feet away, ah good times, good times. It’s too bad Van Gogh isn’t around anymore. That crazy Dutchman really appreciated robust flatulence and I’m sure he would have admired your work.
Le Pétomane: You are much too kind Henri. I give all credit to the Supreme Being. I am just the instrument through which he plays.
Lautrec: Nonsense, you are a national treasure, like the Eiffel Tower…or the croissant. Long after the world has forgotten about Napoleon, France will still be remembered for having produced Le Pétomane, the great Fartiste!
Now about the poster, I had wanted to depict you during that part of your show where you “play” a flute, but I’ve been told there may be trouble with the censors…what’s wrong mon ami, you seem troubled?
Le Pétomane: Well, just between us Henri, I have a doctor’s appointment later today. I’m afraid something might be seriously wrong…for three days now I’ve not been able to make a sound. Not even the slightest toot, my whole European tour could be in jeopardy!
Lautrec: Mon dieu!
Now that’s drama…that’s suspense…that’s all I’ve written so far. I’m hoping the French government will give me a grant so that I can continue working on my tribute to this lost maestro of the sphincter.