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Tight Lips Get Ships--After 55 Hours

September 07, 1997|TRACY WEBER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CYPRESS — For 55 hours, much of it in broiling heat, Jesus Vega avoided slurping sodas that might prompt a belch that would pop his lips from the boat. Instead, he propped himself on pillows, slicked his lips with a gel and concentrated on his promise to his four daughters.

Nearby, Maureen Huertas, 23, of Garden Grove wore a neck brace and mouth guard to ease the stress of prolonged boat kissing.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, after polling a crowd of onlookers, officials decided to call the Kiss of the Century contest at Los Alamitos Race Course a draw, said Mike Walker, a spokesman for Yamaha Marine Group, one of the contest's sponsors.

Vega, a 37-year-old cement finisher from Buena Park, and Huertas each will get a $15,000, 17-foot Century fishing boat, beating out 18 other contestants who began the boat-kissing contest Thursday.

"I just had it on my mind to win for the kids," Vega said. "Some people laughed at us. You do make a fool of yourself. But I tell people for $15,000, I'll make a fool of myself any time."

As Vega and Huertas kept a lip-lock on the boat, Walker said, many of their fellow contestants lost out to sleep, their lips drifting off the boat as they slumbered. One man duct-taped himself to his chair, only to slip away when he fell asleep.

Even Crazy Glue didn't keep another kisser attached.

The officials decided to end the contest when neither Huertas nor Vega looked likely to give in to the brutal heat.

"We want to have a good time," Walker said. "It's not the extreme sports we're after here."

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