My weekend visit had a certain urgency about it. Our original publisher, Dezso Futasz  had decided to get off the rat race, but was conscientious enough to bring a group of people, headed by Geza Panczel of Interart Studio  to take over the Hungarian edition. All three parties had agreed on the terms of transfer, contingent upon me approving the new organization. So I plunged right into the process soon after checking into the hotel. Meeting after meeting after meeting and then dinner at one of the new partners’ home, is how the day went.  Just before the dinner, Dezso had bowed out, leaving me in the care of Geza and his associates. After dinner, the last thing I wanted to do on that night was to go out to Bangkok – a topless bar. Hoping I would catch up on sleep the night after. But no such luck. Instead I found myself sitting on the edge of the stage at the place called Caligula. Caligula was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before. It featured explicit live sex that contained lot of rubbing, slurpy oral sex and frequent copulation – all of that happening just a few feet away from your nose. I don’t know what they were thinking, but that in itself should have been a reason enough for me to disqualify them. If this was their image of Playboy, what would they do to the edition once they got their hot hands on the license to publish the magazine? Sexually oriented yes, but how could I possibly trust them to produce the lifestyle magazine of the highest editorial standards?

So it had to be Dezso pursuing me with a gentle pressure, Geza and his associates putting forth their best foot. In sharp contrast to our social outings, I was quite impressed by their current offices and the publishing activities, which mainly contained of fine arts and literary books. Their offices had more of a feeling of a somber English library than the one bustling with the young men about town.  They seemed serious contenders.  And how can you not like Geza? A low key intellectual who looked so much like Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead  that I fully expected him to break out and begin singing  to lay me down, one last time. Plus, he took me home to his mother Idolka’s house for lunch next afternoon and then we had dinner at the restaurant owned by the group – the pizza joint called M*RXIM, with the A spelt with a red Russian star in defiance of the just fallen communism. The place was extremely popular with the young set.  Having been around in the former Iron Curtain countries good part of three years, I had observed that the sudden freedom had brought out the dormant entrepreneurship of their people and they were game for anything that would make money.

I wrapped up my visit to Budapest with an optimistic outlook.  More urgently waiting for me in Warsaw were my Polish publishers Beata Milewska and Tomasz Zieba. Only three weeks away from launching my third edition in the Eastern bloc. The content needed to be finalized,  plans for the launch revised and action plan put into place. This phase of launching of the new edition has always been the most exciting. With all that hard work behind us, now we had to make things happen. It was a feeling similar to that of an actor’s anxiety just before the curtain rises. Gave me a chance to get to know Beata a bit more. A dynamic young lady who would become one of the most successful publishers of Playboy family. Her partner in the venture, Tomasz accompanied me to Prague to pick up pointers from Ivan Chocholouš, the managing director of the Czech edition, who had very successfully launched  the magazine merely a year and a half earlier.

It’s already Friday, eight full days since I left Chicago, and not one single night I have had good eight hours sleep. And the real challenge of this trip still lies ahead of me. In order for me to succeed, the Murphy’s Law had to work to the perfection in the reverse order. Anything that can go right, will (must) go right.

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