Daniel Hellman has been a sex worker for nine years now. It started with a dating profile, a much older match followed by a sloppy blowjob and scrubbing in the shower. Or so he tells us. There is ambiguity in this piece, so much that Daniel says his day to day existence is at times at the mercy of this identity blur. Is he Daniel or his sex work ego Phil? As an opera singer and performer as well as a sex worker, this is not a new sensation for Daniel, but playing the same role for almost a decade is enough to confuse anyone.
Aside from this existentialism, Daniel gives a rundown of the everyday mechanics. There is an emphasis on admin and overheads familiar to any online dater or freelancer: only one in 15 messages ever lead to a real meet up. The sex is easy, the hard part is the customer service, emotional labour and marketing.
Daniel tells us he is nervous about the show: he has a lot of privilege and might not tell the story right for everyone. He, therefore, invites us to WhatsApp him, giving the opportunity to ask any questions that we might want to know but not normally ask. This semi-structures a part of the show, but you get the feeling he is telling you the answers he wants you to hear anyway, it is not worth the cutting of pace that it entails.
Daniel is extremely charming and has the audience very much onside. When the questions are turned to them, he garners answers that are frank and honest from people not used to talking about their sexuality in front of an audience.
There is a lot in this show, including costume changes, photoshoots and a delicious Kareoke moment where the audience is made to read out the reviews that clients have left for ‘Phil’. Utterly game, people take to the mic, extolling the virtues of his butter-soft skin and oral abilities.