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You may not know the technical term, but I’m guessing many reading this will know the sensation: skin hunger. Humans are social animals, and one of our social needs is touch, and the (hopefully) pleasant sensation it brings. Expanding that into sexual desire, for most people, is also something craved, and the lack of it can lead to terrible psychological distress. So why shouldn’t people be allowed to pay for these services, and for someone to provide them, without shame or moral quandry? What happens between consenting adults is no one else’s business – but what happens when sex, which can be such an intimate act, is a business?

Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays, Animals) once again turns her deft hand to people exploring their freedom, sexuality, and sexual desire in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. Written by Katy Brand, starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, this is an absolute banger of a (almost complete) two-hander, addressing sexual needs, sexual awakening, privacy, sex work, and intimacy in all its forms.

Nancy (Thompson) is just passed 60 years of age, recently widowed, recently retired, and as she readily admits, has lead a very mundance life. Her job was dull, her children bore her, she doesn’t seem to feel the loss of her husband. But she does feel the loss of time, specifically time devoted to her own sexual pleasure, which has been decidely absent her entire life. Enter Leo Grande (McCormack), a sex worker Nancy has hired. Leo has a varied clientele with a variety of needs and desires, not always centred around sex.

Leo Grande isn’t just a person, of course, but a performance. Leo knows that his clients each want a different experience; each experience requires a different Leo to perform for them, and, like any good sex worker, Leo knows his job well. He doesn’t always get it right at first, but he has a talent for sensing what his clients want. And he knows that, while Nancy craves the kind of sex she dutifully lists for him, she always wants intimacy of the more cerebral kind, that leads into good sex.

Leo Grande 2.jpg

Leo knows that Nancy needs care and confidence; he provides that to her. And even though she knows that she is paying him for this service, the result is the same. Almost every scene happens in one hotel room, almost in real time, and yet Hyde never allows us to be bored. With as much intimacy (arguably more) than a live theatre piece, we are privy to how Leo learns and teaches, and how Nancy adapts and grows. It’s a quiet joy to watch Nancy and Leo talk at one moment about blow jobs, and the next about the lies Leo tells his mother to protect her from the truth of his profession.

Even if Nancy thinks she’s educated and a feminist, she still has some rather arcance ideas of how women should behave, and how she thinks Leo should feel about his job. Even if Leo thinks he’s just performing a service, he often fails to see the effect that service can have in a negative way. Brand’s script does not shy away from a bit of skewering of heteronormativity and the rigid moral structure most cultures have placed on sexual pleasure and its connection to sex work, the need that most humans have for touch and connection.

It won’t come as a surprise that Thompson shines in this role, mixing her comedic and dramatic talents to portray a somewhat atypical character for the actress, with a bravery to showing this woman’s most vulnerable side almost immediately. McCormack more than holds his own; he shows Leo’s journey as the opposite, at first keeping his mask firmly in place until this maddening client forces it off him. Hyde knows exactly how to place these characters before the camera, allowing them to be free in their discoveries, both good and bad.

With a fierce honestly and a dry wit, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande asks us all why we can’t enjoy touch, sex, pleasure, the way we want (safely, consensually), with or without strings, as human needs demand. Deceptively nuanced, it asks us to confront our own ideas of what makes us strong and happy, and how we view those who sell this kind of service.

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

  • Emma Thompson
  • Daryl McCormack
  • Isabella Laughland


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INTO THE VOID: Let’s Talk Werewolf Erotica With Mallory O’Meara

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Welcome to Into The Void, a weekly pilgrimage into, well, whatever happens to be going on in the horror-obsessed (and unfortunately opinionated) mind of Scott Wampler, officially licensed opinion-haver and co-host of the FANGORIA Podcast Network’s The Kingcast. All sales are final. No refunds will be issued.

Some years ago, I crossed paths with an author by the name of Mallory O’Meara. She’d just written a helluva book called The Lady from the Black Lagoon, and our shared love for all things Creature-related resulted in us becoming very fast friends. In the time since, Mallory’s become one of my best friends, a regular fixture on The Kingcast, a sounding board for my stupidest ideas, and a seemingly bottomless source for great recommendations – movies, books, you name it. A thing worth knowing about Mallory O’Meara is, she’s never wrong.

A month or so ago, she was once again berating me for not having read one of her favorite books, a bit of werewolf romance/erotica by the name of The Last Werewolf. I’d never actually read any erotica before – much less werewolf erotica – and after mowing through the book in a few sittings, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d waited so long. In fact, I wondered about a few things, actually, and so I very graciously invited Mallory into The Void to discuss my reaction to the dirty little werewolf novel she’d recommended.

FANGORIA: Well, well, well. If it isn’t James Beard Award-nominated author and slide whistle enthusiast Mallory O’Meara. How did you get in here?

Mallory: It seems like I got in here because you were too much of a coward to write about horny werewolves on your own.

Yes, I was, in fact, hoping to talk about this horny werewolf novel you recommended, Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf. Let’s start there – you are a master book-recommender, are you not?

It’s true. It’s one of my many superpowers, along with super strength and being a slide whistle virtuoso. I am simply one thousand book recommendations in a trench coat. Now, you had never read an erotic horror novel before, correct? What made you want to try this one?

Well, you were very adamant that this would be a good fit, your previous book recommendations have all turned out to be great, and the idea piqued my interest precisely because I’ve never read any erotica before. Plus, it has a werewolf in it. What made you think I would respond to this one, in particular?

“Adamant” is such a kind word for “Mallory bullied me into it.” Now, I didn’t set out to convert my dear friend Scott Wampler to the world of horny spooky books, but I knew you would love the voice. Besides all the things going into various holes, erotica and romance writing have some of the strongest character work in the entire literary world.

The character work here was very strong, particularly that of The Last Werewolf’s lead character (and titular werewolf), Jake. I was very taken with the way this one blended together a pseudo-noir caper, grisly horror, and, in spots, something that felt almost like a spy thriller – what with all the gadgets and burner phones and what have you. And, yes, the hole-play.

So much of horror is imbued with sex, nudity, and overall horniness that I’m surprised more horror film fans aren’t reading horny horror books.

Right. And this sorta brings up a point I’ve been considering since reading this one: Why aren’t more dude horror fans – or, hell, just dudes in general – reading erotica? Like, guys’ll find any reason to get horny about pretty much anything, but I find it intriguing that the only people I know who read erotica are ladies. This is anecdotal, of course, but I’m wondering what you make of that.

Well Scott, have you ever heard of sexism? It’s a bummer!


For decades and decades, maybe even a century or more, romance and erotica have been billed as “women’s fiction”, and anything being marketed to or created by women is usually looked at as an inferior thing. Romance/erotic books are looked down upon as lesser forms of literature simply because they’re made for women, and they generally center on a woman’s experiences and feelings. Because of this, and some unconscious—or even conscious!—bias, many men avoid reading things that are “for girls”. Which, of course, makes them cowards. Now, The Last Werewolf is by and about a man, but I think it’s a great entry point for those looking to see if erotica is for them.

I’m trying to figure out why I never waded into these waters myself, and I don’t think I have a good explanation for that. I think I just sorta figured, well, if I wanna get horny and possibly get off in the process, there are easier methods than reading a book. But in reading this, I realized that I was just straight-up limiting my arsenal. It was quite a thing to experience! I feel dumb for having waited so long.

You are dumb, but I still love you. That’s what friends are for, to get you to read about werewolf dicks. I am thrilled this book has broadened your literary horizons. Stretched them, if you will. If someone loves films like The Hunger, Jennifer’s Body, American Werewolf in London, and When Animals Dream, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be reading either horror romance or erotic romance books.


Did your perceptions about these types of books change while you were reading, if you had any prior perceptions at all?

I don’t think I had any real perceptions in place, but I was legitimately impressed by how well-balanced this one was, and how well-written. I didn’t think you’d recommend a shittily-written book, obviously, but I was pretty struck by how measured it was.

Correct. I only recommend certified … wait for it … bangers. Many notable film critics have pointed out the depressing dearth of sex on screen in recent years. I think it is our right, nay, our duty, to keep the spirit of sexy horror alive and seek it out on the page. Do you think you’ll dip into more horny horror books in the future? Now that you’ve got your … toe wet?

Oh, absolutely. I think, for reasons I’d rather not state explicitly because they would count as spoilers for The Last Werewolf, that I’m probably gonna set aside the other two novels in this trilogy for the time being, so I am in the market for further recs along these lines.

One of my recent favorites was The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller. It’s a very spicy romance wrapped up in a genuinely scary haunted house story. Red-hot boning and a fascinating ghost legend? What’s not to love? In my TBR (to be read, for non-nerds) pile of sexy horror books, I have The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James, another sexy ghost book. As in, there’s sex and there’s also ghosts, not that people want to fuck ghosts. Although I have recommendations for that, too! I also have Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione and Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh in the pile, both books about demon banging that come highly recommended.

(Taking notes)

You don’t need to take notes. I just wrote that all out for you.

Ah! So you did! OK, here’s a question that newcomers like myself might have: Is there any way to gauge how spicy these books are upfront? I’m guessing it just comes down to knowing the writer’s work and knowing how far they’ll dial up the horniness.

It depends on how the book is categorized. If it’s a romance, you’re guaranteed a love story, some sex/sexy scenes, and a happy ending (both kinds). If it’s an erotica, the focus is mostly on the sex itself, with everything else as secondary. If you’re just starting out, looking for horror romance is probably the way to go.

I would like the horniness dialed up to 12, please.

Then you want erotica. Erotica is full blast, no-holds-barred filthy horniness.

This is excellent intel, and my team will be carefully considering my next move on this journey.

Be honest, Scott. Is your team just a box of tissues and a pump-action bottle of Vaseline?

They have names, you know.

I don’t need to know the details of your little kinks, my friend. Call them whatever you want.

Very well.


What would you say to fellow horror fans who have never read any horny scary books?

“Hey, you know how you love horror?” Yeah. “And you know how being horny is great?” Yeah. “Well, this combines both of those things, and doesn’t skimp on either in the process.” I mean, everything that can be going wrong in the world is currently going very wrong, but one thing I do like about this era is that sex positivity is such a big deal. Time to break free of those chains and embrace being horny and scared simultaneously. No one’s gonna razz you about it! And if they do, my dear friend Mallory (who is extremely strong) and I will stomp their goofy ass for you in public.

Oh yes, one of my hobbies is finding people who make fun of romance readers and stealing their lunch money.


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