Hungary, a popular location for U.S. and West European filmmakers, is diversifying into a new cinematic sector: erotica.

Since communism’s fall five years ago, Hungary has become a European haven for pornographic moviemaking, and “the center of the porno world,” according to Italian film producer Gianfranco Romagnoli. Far from stifling mainstream filmmaking, “legitimate” porn is injecting badly needed cash into the service industry, and creating opportunities for U.S. and West European producers.

U.S. porn filmmaker Patrick Collins makes movies in Hungary for American distribution, profiting from the huge blue-movie infrastructure and low production costs here.

Budapest is now the permanent home of France’s Christophe Clark, one of the continent’s top erotic actors, who makes soft and hard-core pornographic movies for a local production company. The capital also is the base of operations for Italian producer Romagnoli, co-owner of the Blue Angel casting agency and the service company Touch Me Prods.

According to France’s HOT magazine, the infrastructure in Budapest these auteurs have created constitutes the “greatest (talent) pool of resources of its kind in Europe concentrated in a given place.”

In fact, Hungary’s legitimate porn industry is fueling the entire European market. Eight to 10 pornographic movies are shot in Hungary every month – 10% of the continent’s monthly output of 100 films, reports Hungary’s Private Profit magazine.

About 90% of Europe’s erotic actresses hail from Hungary, said Clark. As a measure of proof, the industry’s biggest stars – Cicciolina (born Bona Staller), Anita Rinaldi (Anita Skultety), Erica Bella, Angelica Bella and Simona Valli – to name only a few – are Hungarians with Italian stage names.

Porn’s impact on Hungary’s mainstream industry is undeniable. Erotica is shot on Mafilm sound stages, pumping cash into the coffers of Hungary’s premier studio complex, and employs Magyar movie crews and technicians.

‘No law’

Unlike most European countries, “in Hungary there is no law” banning pornographic moviemaking, explained Romagnoli. Hungarian law forbids child pornography. “But there are no regulations banning perversities like sodomy, bestiality, etc.,” said Istvan Kovacs, owner of Budapest’s Lux video.

This is good news for blue producers, but not the only reason for the industry’s proliferation here. The low cost of production in Eastern Europe makes it cheaper to film here than in the West, and Hungary’s actresses are in fierce demand.

“Budapest will stay at the (pornographic) center of Europe because of its girls,” said France’s Clark.

They’ve got the look

The exotic Magyar “look” is popular among consumers and producers of international porn. More importantly, producers argue that a liberal attitude toward sex in this culture makes casting easy.

“We can find in Budapest (at any one time) around 50 girls ready to star in a pornographic movie,” said Clark. “In France it is hard to find girls who are 18 or 19 years of age and are willing to star in such movies.”

“The mentality (in Hungary) is very open,” explained Romagnoli. “In Italy, we have the Catholic Church and the mind is closed. In Eastern Europe, the mind is open.”

There also is less education and awareness about AIDS. Thanks to Hungary’s open borders, actresses from all over the East and producers from the West converge on Budapest to meet and do business. Closed borders and underworld lawlessness in the former Soviet Union had prevented legitimate porn from gravitating east.