On a small, mysterious bottle flaunts an enchanted label: “Dream Water” is an over the counter-concentrate with gamma-aminobutyric acid, melatonin and 5-hydroxytryptophan, that promises relaxing journeys into the dreamworld. Promoted by celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Katy Perry in the US, the potion already travelled quite a magical distance, about which a sex worker reports:
“I had this special customer. We were getting very close, he used to call me “my angel”. He was working as a director and wanted to bring his dreams alive on the stage. This one time, while I was working on my bachelor, I had problems sleeping. He gave me a bottle of liquid called “dream water” that helps you sleep. I never opened it. I still have that bottle because he died shortly afterwards. The last time we met he got a coughing attack and didn’t feel well. The next day, he had a heart attack and died. I was the last person who had sex with him before he died. It really struck me because we had a really beautiful connection. I visited his grave twice and it has been quite hard sometimes. So yeah, now this “dream water” always reminds me of him…”
Companionship, being vulnerable, surviving and death show care and interpersonal connections in sex work. Oppositional stands governmental and political stigmatization, overregulation and dehumanization; dynamics which sex workers fight every day. Since the Corona pandemic started, they also have to deal with being framed as “super spreader” and “a danger for the public health”, while at the same time being denied participating in most governmental welfare programs.
All the more reason to be in solidarity with all sex workers and support the demands of the Sex Worker Action Week 2020 for equal rights of sex workers and societal participation – Sex Work is Work! Rights, not Rescue!
A big Thank You to SWAG, the Sex Worker Action Group, for this beautiful Dream Water, which can be seen in our exhibition Object of the Month in the museum café for the entirety of the month of September. More unforgettable objects from sex workers can be found in the urban mini exhibition within the Sex Worker Action Week 2020:
Facebook page: SW Action Week