Traumboy @ Summerhall

Traumboy is an intimate solo performance about male sex work in the western world

Review by Rachel Baker | 08 Aug 2019
  • Traumboy @ Summerhall

Performed by Swiss sex worker and performance artist Daniel Hellmann, Traumboy is a blend of autobiography and activisim, aiming to shatter negative stigmas around sex work in the Western world. Hellmann composes his argument through a skilled combination of intimate storytelling, movement sequences and interactions with the audience. This is a daring piece of theatre from an engaging and profoundly intelligent artist. 

Much of the performance isn't a show, but rather a conversation with dramaturgy. He offers you his phone number to ask questions; 'go wild', he says, 'don't hold back'. He later selects audience members to ask his own questions, targeting those who are less comfortable with this controversial topic. This highlights the immense bravery of Hellmann's work – not only aiming to challenge misconceptions but actively doing so through this spontaneous theatrical technique.

Traumboy's dance sequences sometimes detract from the pace of the rest of the work, but are nonetheless injected with unbridled joy in his own body and sexuality. Hellmann's only criticism of his work comes in the reactions from his peers. He makes brief but gut-wrenching mentions of those who have vilified him as a result of his choices. These monologues hit hard after the sequences which evoke the pleasure he gets from his work, both physically and emotionally. 

Hellmann has truly mastered the use of autoethnography to compose relevant, social commentary. This is an emotive and wonderfully crafted performance that targets the problem around western sex work directly, rejecting reductive shame and encouraging pride in a legitimate and empowering profession. 

Traumboy, Summerhall (Old Lab), 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 Aug, 8.10pm, £10-12