Let’s talk about farts. A couple of weeks ago, a flight from Dubai to Amsterdam was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Vienna to expel an older man who wouldn’t stop expelling his own noxious gases. “Disgust” is probably somewhere in the top three reactions to public flatulence; the other two spots might be occupied by “embarrassment” (both for the farter and those around them) and “humor” (everyone loves a comedy fart).
However, the stink that follows a particularly scandalous bout of wind might not be shared by everyone: there are those who treat anal flatulence with respect and admiration. A 2014 study from the University of Exeter suggested that hydrogen sulphide—a compound found in farts—may protect human cells that are typically damaged by diseases such as cancer.
And for a small number of individuals, farting isn’t just a taboo by-product of human digestion—it’s the primary focus of their sex lives.
Fart fetishism—also known as eproctophilia—involves being sexually aroused by anal flatulence. As is the case with many other fetishes, sexual arousal can arise from different situations for different members of the eproctophilia community. Some individuals are at their horniest when farting on their sexual partners, whereas others are most turned-on by the act of being farted upon. Many of us have access to five senses, all of which can be potentially engaged by a hearty trump. Sour smells, deep inhalations, loud rips—everyone’s repertoire of preferences is slightly different. Most members of the eproctophilia community agree on one thing though: their fetish is not the same as coprophilia and they are largely turned-off by the idea of scat.
So how exactly do you develop a fart fetish? According to sex and relationship therapist Sarah Berry, “farts are generally regarded as funny, gross and/or embarrassing. Any experiences exacerbating any of these reactions could give rise to farting as a sexual preference.” This would certainly seem to be reflected in the stories of some individuals from the eproctophilia community.
Jason*, a 22-year-old straight man from the US, pinpoints his earliest farting fantasies to the age of 6, when he would imagine hanging out with a gassy Pumbaa from The Lion King. Although he remembers being obsessively amused by flatulence, his parents were more uptight. “I remember I wasn’t allowed to even use the word ‘fart’ when I was little, so that probably made it feel more taboo or forbidden to me.”
Ric*, a 52-year-old gay man from Australia, may not have had the same strict parenting as Jason, but he can also trace his fetish back to early childhood. “As a young boy, I always had an unsaid admiration for other boys who were ‘public’ farters, as they always seemed so uninhibited, confident and a little subversive.” Ric recalls wanting to be more courageous.
As he grew older and started to explore and realize his sexual orientation, Ric’s confidence grew and he sought to invoke reactions in other men. “One day when I was feeling a little jaded and wanting to shock, I let rip rather loudly in front of another man in the university gym changing room,” Ric said. “I then did this on a regular basis. Sometimes, my farts actually received a [positive] response.”
For Jason and Ric, these early emotional experiences led to the realization that they were into eproctophilia. Both men can remember having either fart-inspired erections or masturbatory fantasies, which eventually led to flatulence as a primary route of arousal. However, Jason, who is mostly attracted to women’s farts, has yet to discuss his fetish face-to-face with anyone, and has consequently never had a real-life encounter. “I go to a few online forums and the like, so I have some online friends who are into it,” he explains. Aside from these online chats, Jason primarily experiences his fetish through online videos. “They don’t contain sex or nudity,” he tells me. “Most of the ones I watch are solo videos where the model is alone, either fully-dressed or in suggestive clothing, like lingerie.”
On the other hand, Ric’s early-adult exhibitionist experiences in gym locker rooms and gay saunas soon blossomed into more mature liaisons. Ric, who is interested in sharing gas solely with other men, spent the first half of his adult life talking to like-minded men on gay eproctophilia forums and Yahoo groups, as well as viewing and uploading his own videos to the now defunct maleassrippers.com.
It wasn’t until he was 40 that Ric visited an older man abroad, with the express purpose of living out his fantasy. “We spent 24 hours together, during which we farted in front of each other in various locations (e.g. a restaurant), farted on each other’s hands, and eventually in each other’s faces.” Since that deliciously deviant day, Ric has had various other real-life meet-ups, but is mostly restricted to Skype sessions with overseas contacts.
Fabio*, a 37-year-old married straight man from Brazil, has an altogether different experience. Not only does he have regular face-to-butt interactions, but he’s also a heterosexual guy who is exclusively attracted to men’s farts. Again, Fabio recalls being excited by his friends’ farts as a five-year-old. A few years later, he was hanging out with one of his cousins in their São Paulo apartment block. “We were watching TV and he deliberately farted on my face, trying to be funny,” says Fabio. “He didn’t know I was near his butt cheeks to appreciate them, and his fart made my dreams come true.”
In spite of their different backgrounds, sexual orientations and experiences with eproctophilia, when I ask Jason, Ric and Fabio what drives their fetish, they have a singular reply: the intimacy of farting. Jason looks at it in terms of how sharing a fart might subvert societal expectations: “Girls don’t tend to be open about that kind of stuff unless they feel really comfortable around you. So I guess I look at it as a sign of affection.”
Social acceptability also plays a role in Fabio’s eproctophilia. He explains that he has a specific interest in the farts of men who are well-dressed, as well as more handsome and intelligent than he is. If a beautiful, smart man agrees to fart on his face, “it means he likes me and it allows me to know him deeply, in a way no one does,” Fabio says, “because people normally don’t know the way someone’s farts are.” He tells me that, in his eyes, farting humanizes an individual. When a man he feels inferior to passes wind on him, it brings them to the same level as Fabio—something that he finds cerebrally relaxing.
Intelligence and intellect comes first and foremost in Ric’s fetish too. He relates how he was greatly inspired by a French peer he worked with in the 90s, who was the first man to actually verbalize the enjoyment of farting to him. Ric also describes the pleasure of being able to articulate his desires to other intelligent men who equally understand and share them. As for the act itself: “For me it is a shared intimacy, a form of liberation, and an acknowledgement of one’s basic animal origins.”
*Names have been changed to protect anonymity.
Follow Richard on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on VICE CA.