BUENA PARK — The two women were mesmerized by the pair of ebony statues that graced the lobby of Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum.
The reason for their fascination was the same. Their actions, however, were completely different.
No way was Kelly Lin of Anaheim going anywhere near the pointy-head figures, one male, the other female. Supposedly, they're fertility gods and legend has it that women who touch them get--Lin giggled nervously--pregnant.
Michelle Pinon of Corona, on the other hand, couldn't wait to touch the infant cradled in the arms of the female statue. "I want a baby," the 25-year-old said with a bright smile.
And believe it or not, Ripley's officials said, in the past two years, about 150 women nationwide have claimed they became pregnant after having touched one or both of the naked figures carved by members of the Baule tribe in the Ivory Coast. The Buena Park Ripley's museum is the last stop in the tour across North America for the king and queen fertility gods who will leave for Asia on Sept. 3.
Ripley's Entertainment bought the statues in November 1994 as decorative art pieces for its headquarters in Orlando, Fla. Within the first several months, six women--either employees of the company or wives of employees--became pregnant after having touched the figures, officials said.
Recognizing the publicity potential, officials sent the fertility gods on a cross-country tour, where thousands of women have waited in line to touch the figures, officials said.
Friday, during their first day in Orange County, the 5-foot-tall statues drew many curious looks. The male figure holds a mango--a symbol of fertility--in his right hand and a dagger in his left. The female cradles a baby.
Two women from Southern California were on hand to swear to the power of the two gods.
"I really believe in it," said Yvette Watson, 31. The Compton woman said she wanted a baby since November when she got married. In March, she visited the Ripley's museum in Hollywood after hearing about the figures and their alleged powers.
Upon touching the queen statue, Watson said, "I felt warm inside."
A month later, she was pregnant. Feeling silly about the whole matter, however, Watson didn't tell her husband until earlier this week that two gods from the Ivory Coast contributed to the conception of their baby.
Before then, Watson said, "I would tell him, 'See, you should have stayed on your side of the bed.' "
Stephani Wong and her husband, Frankie, had been trying to have a child for two years when they heard the fertility gods were visiting Hollywood. The Glendale couple went together to touch the gods in early March. By the end of the month, Stephani Wong, 31, became pregnant.
"We have been trying for some time," she said. "I don't think it's a coincidence. I think if you believe in something enough, it would happen."
Frankie Wong said he too has been made a believer. "When you want to have a child, everything helps," he said. "Things like this, you never know."
Kelly Lin kept this in mind as she carefully, slowly tiptoed around the statues to get to the museum gift shop. A small, white sign posted next to the gods warned: "Touch them at your own risk, and only if you hope to have a baby soon!"
The woman muttered: "Not even with a 10-foot pole."