Manualism, or as we like to call it, “hand farting,” is the use of one’s clasped hands as a musical instrument. By pushing air through the hands, the manualist is able to produce a juicy, flatulent sound. It’s not really difficult for one to make such farty noises by putting his or her hands together, but perfecting tone and pitch in order to make those noises “musical” is a significant challenge.
John Twomey coined the term manualism to describe the art form. Though the technique had been around since at least 1914, according to Cecil Dill, who is widely considered the originator of the practice, Twomey was the first superstar of the craft, having performed “Stars and Stripes Forever” on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1974.
A couple of years ago we posted about this kid who performed a hypnotic hand-fart cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” While that kid clearly has a bright future ahead of him in the manualism game, he’s an amateur act compared to Gerry Phillips of Troy, Michigan—as you can see right here:
Just call him “Queef Richards.”
Phillips, who has spent 45 years perfecting his technique, is a hand-fart virtuoso. His You Tube channel boasts over 150 videos. His most popular video, an unbelievable hand-fart cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper,” has over 3.4 million views. The guy is a hand-fart phenomenon.
Phillips claims to have discovered his talent at the age of nine. In the time since then, he has perfected his technique to such a degree that he can hit notes—in perfect pitch—from baritone to fartsetto (yeah, I said it) with incredible speed and accuracy on a par with the world’s greatest musicians. In fact, Phillips may be too good. He stopped producing new videos four years ago, and a 2011 interview may offer an explanation:
Most songs are repetitive and boring. When I find a song that is technically hard to play and has great lead solo or I just have too many people requesting it, only then will I do it. I feel I have done just about everything I set out to play. I always thought that when I could play “The Green Hornet Theme” or the full “Fur Elise” that I would be as good as I could get. That is why I haven’t made any new videos lately.
Imagine being so good at something, achieving such heights of accomplishment, that there was no point in continuing with it. Now imagine that thing is hand farting.
Phillips’ videos really are a treat to watch, though—not only for his astounding talent, but also for the ever-present look on his face, which manages the paradoxical combination of the smugness of knowing he’s really fucking good, while at the same time seeming to be humbled by the realization of the butt-trumpeting ridiculousness emitting from his magical hands. If humblesmug is a thing, it can be witnessed on the visage of Gerry Phillips.
The Iron Maiden cover we mentioned is a good starting place to revel in Phillips’ masterful talent, but there are so many more must-see hand-fart renditions on his channel—a channel which is quite remarkable for the musical diversity displayed. It’s so all over the map. I personally recommend his hand-fart covers of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn,” Jean Michel Jarre’s “Oxygene 4,” The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia,” and the Sandford and Son theme song. Phillips is definitely pulling from all over the place in his inspired musical selections—he even does “The Gonk,” that goofball song that plays in the Dawn of the Dead shopping mall (which he performs while dressed as a zombie!).
Here are some undisputed must-hear classics from Gerry Phillips’ hand-fart hit parade:
“Shartway to Heaven”
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Hypnotic hand fart cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’