Approached me on his behalf were the Hungarian expats and venture capitalists, John and Eva Breyer of Invent Corporation, based in Hillsborough, California. The breathtaking story of their escape across the border into Austria and on to the United States during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in itself would make for an incredible and thrilling love story. But for the time being, I would stick to the story of Playboy’s arrival in the eastern Europe.

After the initial exchange of information, my boss Bill and I met in my office with Eva and Dezsö in the early spring of 1989. Over the next several months we work on the details of launching of Playboy’s first edition behind the Iron Curtain. As we had just began to put together the pages of the first issue of the Hungarian edition, I remember how our entire team had put everything away and rushed over to the Kossuth Lajos tér to join the jubilant crowd gathered outside Hungary’s Parliament Building to witness the historic moment of Matyas Szuros, Hungary`s acting president declaring Hungary to be an independent nation.

It was Monday, October 23, 1989. Sixteen days ahead of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The exuberant crowd and the joy that rippled through us took me back forty two years to the night of August 15, 1947 to Bori Bunder in Bombay, and to the jubilant crowds celebrating India’s independence from the British. I still can feel the exhilaration and the thrill of that night. Seven years old, perched on the shoulders of an adult, I was surrounded by an euphoria with beating of the drums, screams of joy, chanting – the fireworks lighting up the sky and the Indo-Gothic façade of the Victoria Terminus lit up like a bride was something I still cherish like a distant dream that’s still well and alive in my memory. The Hungarian edition of Playboy launches on November 28, 1989, nineteen days after the people began to carry bits and pieces of the Berlin wall home as souvenirs.

It’s almost a year later that I am sitting with Rolf Dolina in Chicago’s Bombay Palace restaurant. It is clear to me that he is smitten with the idea of publishing a Playboy in the eastern Europe, where his businesses reign supreme. I tell Rolf about how far along we already were with the Czech edition. Nothing I could do.

But I am thinking, perhaps he can team up with Dezsö in Hungary. A whole year in publishing Playboy there, the economy and the weaning optimism of the country is setting in and the magazine is not doing as well as anticipated. Though it has already established itself as the class in itself against which others are measured. They are struggling. What the magazine needs is some infusion of cash and someone like Rolf’s expertise and the business acumen.

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