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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's all in the kiss

Reader poll: What's your pick for most memorable on-screen kiss?

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

Kissing can conjure up a multitude of memories and emotions, ranging from the intoxicatingly romantic to, well, the kind you desperately want to forget.


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Statistics and snippets on smooching:

  • We'll spend an average of two weeks kissing in our lifetime.

  • During a kiss, 278 colonies of bacteria are exchanged.

  • Hershey's kisses got their name from the machine that makes them. When the chocolate drops out, it looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt. It even makes a puckering sound.

  • In the '50s and '60s, TV network censors required a couple who kissed on a bed or couch to keep one foot on the floor.

  • In a Gallup poll, 25 percent of respondents picked "Gone With the Wind" as the movie with the most memorable screen smooch.

  • The average woman will kiss 79 guys before she's married.

  • A lipstick imprint of a kiss made by Mick Jagger's mouth once sold for $1,600.

  • In the 1920s, when August Rodin's famous sculpture "The Kiss" went on display in a Tokyo museum, it created such a controversy that the statue was put behind a bamboo curtain.

    Source: "Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures"

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    Best on-screen smooches as ranked by Joel Siegel, movie critic of "Good Morning America"

    1. "Gone With the Wind" (1939)

    2. "From Here to Eternity" (1953)

    3. "The Princess Bride" (1987)

    4. "Jerry Maguire" (1996)

    5. "Top Gun" (1986)

    6. "Lost in Translation" (2003)

    7. "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003)

    8. "Spider-Man" (2002)

    9. "Life Is Beautiful" (1998)

    10. "Titanic" (1997)

    11. "To Catch a Thief" (1955)

    12. "Body Heat" (1981)

    13. "Witness" (1985)

    14. "Casablanca" (1942)

    Source: "Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures"

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    "Titanic" (1997) — Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

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    "Gone with The Wind" (1939) — Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh

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    "Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures" by Andréa Demirjian



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    "From Here to Eternity" (1953) — Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr

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    Andréa Demirjian

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    Kerry Phyillaier of Waikiki has had too many good kisses to remember. But the worst one, oh, that memory stuck.

    A few months ago, Phyillaier went on a date with a guy whom, at first, she liked.

    "He was charming, attractive and we had engaging conversation all evening," said the registered nurse, 33. "Unfortunately I discovered, as he walked me home, that he was a chain smoker."

    At her doorstep he leaned in for a sloppy kiss, catching Phyillaier off-guard. She nearly keeled over from the taste of nicotine on his breath. She quickly said goodbye, ran upstairs and brushed her teeth repeatedly. "I might as well have smoked on the other end of the cigarette with him," she said.

    Kissing can conjure up a multitude of memories and emotions, ranging from the intoxicatingly romantic to, well, the kind you desperately want to forget. Kisses can be passionate and intense or playful and fun. But above all, the act of lip-locking should be pleasurable.

    Otherwise, what's the point?

    "For me, it's a deal-breaker," said New York-based kissing connoisseur Andréa Demirjian, who wrote "Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures" (Penguin Group, $9.95). "It's the barometer. It's the start-or-stop thing."

    Demirjian got the idea for her book — the be-all, end-all of kissing — after her own kissing drought.

    Four years ago, at age 38, she realized she hadn't kissed anyone in months. Then one evening at a party she met a nice guy with serious kissing potential.

    "When the night was over, I had to kiss him," Demirjian said, laughing. "I couldn't stand it."

    When their lips met, "It reawakened something inside me, something that had been dormant for so long," Demirjian said. "It was like Sleeping Beauty had just been kissed. It set off a ripple effect."

    Demirjian went on a kissing spree. Then, just for fun, she created a spreadsheet listing all the men she had kissed that year, noting their hair and eye color, profession and other telling details about the encounter.

    What she noticed about her kissing habits intrigued her.

    Though she was more attracted to older, darker-haired men, she found that she was kissing younger fair-heads instead.

    "Wow, that was something I would have never known," she said.

    Fast-forward three years and Demirjian, now a marketing and advertising consultant, had written a book about her favorite pastime. "Kissing," in bookstores now, looks at just about every aspect of lip-locking; it is packed with facts, slang, trivia and tips on how to improve your smooching.

    Even celebrities chime in with their kissing experiences.

    Lisa Kudrow recalled her first kiss with the hottest guy in high school. She was so overcome with emotion, she cried.

    Charlize Theron's first kiss, at age 12 with a boy who had braces, was, in her words, "just awful."

    For Demirjian, kissing can make or break a relationship. "You don't need to make a good living or drive a fancy car," she said. "But you have to be a good kisser."

    One of her most memorable kisses came right after high school during a summer program in Italy. She met an Italian boy who loved to kiss. On the day she had to return home to New York, he took her to the train station and kissed her one last time.

    "When the train starting moving, he trotted alongside," Demirjian recalled. "When I think about it, it still breaks my heart. It was like out of a movie."

    Greg Nagamine, 27, of Mililani, recalls his most memorable kiss from high school.

    His girlfriend wouldn't allow him to kiss her on the lips.

    "She knew I always wanted to kiss her but found it sweet that I could get by with kissing her on her hand," he said.

    After a few months of dating — and no smooching — the couple went to the school's winter prom in Waikiki. Nagamine decided to press his luck.

    After the drive home, she walked him to his door. They had their usual date-ending hug, then Nagamine went for it and leaned in for a kiss. She acquiesced.

    "I still remember my surprise and joy to this day," Nagamine said. "It was a great night."

    The best kisses aren't always the most romantic. Sometimes it's the soft lips or the situation — or maybe a fresh minty taste.

    Erin Connell, a designer from Hawai'i Kai, remembers a kiss with that lingering taste of mint. It's still one of her favorites.

    But her idea of the perfect kiss doesn't require much, no serenades in a gondola or a room full of roses. It just has to be right.

    "If the kiss itself is a playful tug of war between the tenderness of love and the urgency of desire, and it makes you weak in the knees," Connell said, "it is a perfect kiss."

    Well put.

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    Smooching commandments from kissing connoisseur Andréa Demirjian:

    Get mellow: A good kiss comes from the mood within, Demirjian said. Empty your head, take a deep breath and exhale. Just think about kissing — and being kissed.

    Floss and gloss: A fresh mouth (floss) and kissable lips (gloss) will make you smoochable, Demirjian said. So take care of your pucker. Brush your teeth and floss daily. Pack breath mints. Quit smoking. Moisturize lips.

    Create a cozy nook: Sure, kissing can happen anytime, anyplace. But it's so much sweeter if the atmosphere is right. Curl up on a comfy sofa, light some candles, play relaxing music. Turn off the TV and your cell phone.

    Less is more: Make soft, light contact with your lips at first. Be gentle and varied. Touch her face; run your fingers through his hair. Soft can be sensual.

    Watch the tongue: No one likes making out with a cow prod. Relax, go slow. No need to shove your tongue down your partner's throat.

    Have fun: After all, isn't that the point?

    Reach Catherine E. Toth at ctoth@honoluluadvertiser.com.