It wasn't exactly Prince Charming but one of Ukraine's “Sleeping Beauties” finally got a kiss on the lips as she dozed on a dais filmed by cameras - though unlike the fairy tale she never woke up.
“I'm not sure I would marry precisely this girl, I just was curious whether she would open her eyes,” said the young woman who dared the embrace while male visitors shied away.
The venue was Ukraine's National Art Museum and the stakes were marriage.
Visitors at a wacky performance called “Sleeping Beauty” were allowed to kiss a series of volunteer Sleeping Beauties - but only if they signed an undertaking to marry the woman if she “wakes up”.
Those reluctant to commit to a perfect stranger were allowed to look at the “princess” slumbering in a white dress in the dimly lit room, but not lock lips.
“I'm not ready to kiss a woman on the first date, and it's definitely the first time I've ever seen her,” said Oleksandr Dankov, 43, after choosing not to steal a smooch.
But “perhaps I'll come again,” he told AFP.
Yana Krasnokutska, 23, was more daring.
“It's a fairy tale, so I was just curious to try it,” she told AFP, smiling after kissing the “Beauty” lightly on the lips.
The performance was created by Ukrainian-Canadian artist Taras Polataiko, who said he had been working on this project for the last two years.
He was inspired by the well-loved fairytale in which a young princess is put under a curse and sleeps for hundreds of years along with her kingdom. She is finally awoken by a kiss from a prince who loves her.
The women in Kiev slept in public for two hour-long shifts each day, with a half-hour break between.
“The idea behind the project is patience,” Polataiko told AFP.
“Our people can be patient for a long time. While Beauty is sleeping, the entire kingdom is also sleeping. If the kingdom is to be woken, the Beauty must be woken.”
Polataiko said that he chose as his Sleeping Beauties attractive women who were also looking for a steady partner
“All the five girls I've chosen are gorgeous, smart and waiting for a true love,” he said, adding that he initially planned having only one Sleeping Beauty but ended giving the others a chance too.
“We have three or four visitors every day willing to awake the Sleeping Beauty, both men and women,” he told AFP.
“This isn't a marriage agency. It's magic, it's a fairy tale. No one knows how it will end,” said Polataiko.
Natalya Bakovskaya, 27, was the first sleeping beauty to do a three-day stint waiting for her prince after her sisters told her about the casting call on television.
“When it started, I got really involved in it and felt as if I was in a fairy tale,” she told AFP.
“I could hardly sleep with all the cameras and visitors on the first day, but afterwards I enjoyed the two hours of the rest in the middle of the day and even felt a kind of drowsiness,” Bakovskaya said.
She said she did not open her eyes and so never did find her prince, although one of the kisses she received was “especially memorable”.
Later she tried watching a video of her kisses to identify the young man who kissed her on the first day, but did not succeed.
Finally the fairy tale ended with a non-traditional twist as the fourth Sleeping Beauty opened her eyes after a kiss, to find not a prince, but a princess.
“I was astonished when I opened my eyes and saw a girl,” translator Yana Gurzhiy, 24, told AFP after she decided to open her eyes when she was kissed on the forehead.
Ukraine does not allow gay marriage, making it impossible for Gurzhiy to tie the knot with her pursuer, but she said she had felt a connection with the woman who kissed her, whom she named only as Katya.
“I believe it is not a coincidence we had to meet this way. She's a very interesting person, so I hope we'll have some kind of professional and creative partnership.”
A fifth Sleeping Beauty was set to take her place in the performance, which was to end September 9. - Sapa-AFP