The XX Factor

The Honest Version of the Strangers Kissing Video Is Diverse, Awkward, and a Little Creepy

Normal people kiss.

Last week, the Internet completed a full outrage cycle over the release of Tatia Pilieva’s “First Kiss,” a short video that convened 20 strangers to lock lips for the first time on camera. First came the gushing over the video’s ability to spin passionate romantic connections out of thin air. Then came resentment over the revelation that it had been stacked with actors and models and filmed in service of a fashion line. The New York Times Style section apologia, the Jimmy Fallon doggy parody, and the inevitable fart version weren’t far behind.

Now, filmmaker Hye Yun Park has arrived to valiantly test the video’s original premise, revealing what it really looks like when nonprofessional strangers put their mouths on one another’s mouths. The video features 28 New York City residents with less combined acting and modeling experience, no fashion label tie-in, and “more color, dust, dirt, curves, spark and queer juice.” The result is super awkward, thoroughly unromantic, and in some cases, a little creepy! It’s also more honest.

“Ahhhhhhh,” one participant says after she takes off her blindfold and immediately averts her eyes from her kissing partner. “This is very awk—OK, awkwaaaard.” Other icebreakers include, “Do you like, do you, like, um, do you like food,” “I like your, um, sweatshirt,” and “I like Jewish people.” Like Pilieva’s version, Park’s video is overlaid with a romantic pop track, but it’s not loud enough to drown out the disquieting squishy noises. The stilting side-eye that one woman gives her partner when he goes in for the kiss at the 2:15 mark is a video highlight, as is one man’s acknowledgment that he totally has a boner. Then there’s the dude who asks his partner “how deep” she wants it, grazes her boob without warning, then grasps her hand a little too long after the kiss is completed. Pilieva’s version peddled the fantasy that when you sign up to kiss a stranger, you’ll be paired with a gorgeous French model, but let’s be honest—it’s a lot more likely that that guy is gonna show up.