Formula for success

This weekend's Grand Prix auto race in Hungary features a well-organized red-light district.

By Jack Boulware
Published August 17, 2000 6:35PM (EDT)

Formula One racing fans won't have to worry about satisfying their sexual urges during this weekend's Grand Prix competition in the Hungarian village of Mogyorod. In a racing first, local authorities have agreed to set aside a temporary red-light zone for prostitutes.

For years Formula One races have attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators to the Hungaroring race track, approximately 15 kilometers east of Budapest. And with this gathering come hundreds of hookers, circulating through the crowds looking for clients. Prostitution is legal in Hungary, but strictly regulated. So this year, politicians elected to deal with the problem in a unique manner. Give the hookers their own track, so to speak.

With the mayor's approval, a 20,000 square-meter red-light zone will be set up close to the race track, supplied with portable toilets and showers. The zone will be open for business between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. each night. After the conclusion of the racing competition, the zone will be torn down, and the 5,000-population village will resume its routine.

"This phenomenon is existing everywhere," said Mogyorod Mayor Sandor Toth, "whether we forbid it or not, so why not do it openly?"

"During the race every year, we get extreme numbers of tourists, and they have a demand for this basic service," local notary Agnes Hangodi told state Hungarian radio. "There has been pressure from police. They said they could only handle the situation if it is restricted to a given area. So the local government chose the smaller evil. Our village is deeply religious. I do not know how people here could fit this in with their conscience."

Hungarian authorities have attempted to set up permanent red-light districts throughout the country, to restrict prostitution to specific areas, but without success. The Formula One solution could be a precedent for future racetrack-themed prostitution districts.

"The F-1 race in Hungary is known the world over for its prostitutes," a merchandiser told a news agency. "The campsites are full of them at night. I'm certain it's the only reason some of the people bother to come here in the first place."

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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