"Planet Stalingrad," Playboy, April 2003
by david farley
A specter is haunting Eastern Europe: Communist kitsch. Although the Berlin Wall came tumbling down almost 14 years ago, the Soviet red stars, agitprop posters of happy workers and long breadlines are making an ironfisted comeback. This time, however, they've been relegated to museum spaces and theme restaurants.
Tourists of the world are uniting at
the Museum of Communism in Prague,
where relics of the past--statues of
Stalin and Marx, a re-creation of an
interrogation office and a poem
extolling the virtues of the
tractor--are on display. The
text-heavy museum takes visitors
through Communism's introduction in
Czechoslovakia in 1948 to its demise
41 years later in the Velvet
Moving eastward, Statue Park on the
outskirts of Budapest offers a
one-stop look at many of the
monolithic Soviet-era sculptures that
once graced the Hungarian capital. A 12-foot granite Lenin greets visitors at the gate. Inside, oversize, barrel-chested laborers chiseled from stone still stand proudly under a Soviet flag.
Thankfully, post-Communist fare doesn't require the iron stomachs of the past. At Marxim's Pizzeria in Budapest, booths are surrounded by barbed wire. The large pizza selection includes Gorbi-Gorbi, Gulag pizza and Preelection Promises (which contains two different kinds of cheese, ham and "anything you want.") But where's the Prague Spring Roll?