Six of History's Most Awkward Public Displays of Affection

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1. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley

Lisa Marie Presley had accompanied her husband, Michael Jackson, to the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards for moral support. Shortly before the ceremony, Michael informed her that he was going to bring her onstage and give her a big "this-isn't-a-sham" kiss. She was horrified and warned him not to do it, but her pleas were ignored. Onlookers noted that Lisa exploded in anger backstage afterwards, but Michael was oblivious, saying how great things went. Just think, nobody thought this would last.

2. Hillary Clinton & Suha Arafat

Then-First Lady Hillary Clinton made a political gaffe by embracing and effusively kissing Suha Arafat after the latter had made an impassioned and inflammatory speech about Israelis using poison gas against Palestinians.

3. Richard Gere & Shilpa Shetty

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Earlier this year, Indian film star and Celebrity Big Brother winner Shilpa Shetty appeared onstage with Richard Gere at an AIDS awareness rally in New Delhi. Unfortunately, Gere was unfamiliar with the strict Hindu mores and proceeded to playfully twirl Shetty into a dancer's dip, kissing her on the cheek several times. This display led to public burnings of photos of Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty, plus overall condemnation of the pair.

4. Jacques Chirac & Laura's Hand

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This photo didn't incite any international incidents, or cause American restaurants to rename foods. First Lady Laura Bush was simply another conquest for Chirac.

5. John Bryan and Fergie's Toes

Fergie.jpegThe Duchess of York was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland with the rest of the Royal Family when the Daily Mirror published the so-called "toe sucking" photos. Sarah's father-in-law, Prince Philip, handed her a copy of the paper and told her that it might comfort her to know that "there but for the grace of God go I." He left the room and moments later the Queen's private secretary told the Duchess that she might feel better if she left immediately and returned to London, effectively banishing her from the premises. The only feeble defense both Fergie and her lover, John Bryan, could muster up was that he hadn't been sucking her toes, he was simply kissing the instep of her foot.

6. Madonna & Britney Spears

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And we've come full circle, back to the MTV Video Music Awards. In 2003, Britney and Madonna did their best to shock the audience with what looked like (thanks to TiVo) an opened-mouth kiss. When Britney was interviewed a few months later on Primetime Live, she swore there was no "tongue action" and that it only appeared so because the two of them were "good actresses."

Bonus: Al & Tipper Gore

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Good suggestion from reader Harold: Al & Tipper making out at the 2000 Democratic convention.

Previously on mental_floss:

11 Pictures Politicians Wish Were Never Taken
9 Legendary Cartoon Voices
Six Supergroups Who Saved The World
8 Nuclear Weapons The U.S. Has Lost
"¢ Quiz: Girlie Middle Names

November 30, 2007 - 8:03am
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