Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

In Traumgirl performance artist Anne Welenc presented a show that took a personal look at sex work from a female perspective. Traumboy carries on the investigation, but from a gay male point of view. 

Daniel Hellman is a former opera singer and is currently a sex worker. The performance begins with Hellman stood in the audience as the stage lights dim. He holds a light up to his face and tells a story about an encounter with one of his clients. It is a gripping tale and gives an insight into his profession. After this introduction the performer addresses the audience and lets us know he is nervous about presenting this show in a country that has much stricter laws on sex work than Switzerland and Germany. Storytelling and audience interaction is the format of the Traumboy. We are given Hellman’s personal phone number and Twitter handle so we can contact him during the performance. He will then read out questions form the audience. It is an interesting approach to an audience Q&A and emphasises the themes of concealment and security. 

After approximately 30 minutes the show takes a turn. Hellman pulls up a sheet that has been lying on the floor to create a white backdrop. He then begins to dance for several minutes before making way for a more touching section of the performance. We are given a slideshow, showing photographs from Hellman’s upbringing in Switzerland. We are told of his relationship to his family and about precious boyfriends. We learn that he hid his sex work and that his job has caused problems in his relationships. Hellman does not dwell on the mental strain that this must cause. Instead he moves swiftly on and gives a more positive perspective on his work. Traumboy looks to remove stereotypes and negativity surrounding sex work and Hellman’s approach and ability to tell stories certainty allows the audience to endear to him.

Traumboy and Traumgirl are both presented at Summerhall in the Old Lab on alternating dates. Although both shows are linked, it would still be a satisfying experience to only see one if possible. It is up to you which one you choose, as both Traumgirl and Traumboy show different perspectives on sex work in interesting and interactive ways.