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The ATL Twins are Spring Breakers forever

Sidney and Thurman Sewell might have your attention now, but it will never be enough

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NIGHT MOVES: Late evening at the Twins’ apartment.
  • Dustin Chambers
  • NIGHT MOVES: Late evening (top) and early morning at the Twins’ apartment.

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ATL Twins


The story about the Twins in Rolling Stone (written by Jann Wenner's youngest son, Gus) describes them as "25-year-old skateboarders." The Twins are not 25, they're 32. It is a known fact that people who are trying to break into Hollywood films should not be thirtysomething; they should be in their 20s or younger. In a way, the Twins are not even lying about their age as much as they're just saying, "Yes, we're employable."

The Twins think and talk a lot about their public perception. During a photo shoot for this story, our photographer followed them to a jewelry shop to pick up new grills. When leaving the loft, they took a backpack stuffed with issues of the magazines they've been featured in. Out in the world, they showed the magazines to anyone who would look at them, like proof that people should know who they are. They showed them to the lady who owned the jewelry shop and then tried to get a discount for being famous. It didn't work.

As much as they crave the attention, they also think they've been misrepresented by the media. The Twins took turns explaining to me that they felt the first Vice interview made them sound homophobic, when they say that couldn't be further from the truth. They wanted to stress that they understand what it's like to have a sexuality and lifestyle that society regards with skepticism or disgust; they wanted be sure this story would express a kind of solidarity with anyone who might be misunderstood in a similar way. In the middle of making this point, one of the brothers looked down at his phone and said, "Hold on, this bitch is calling us." Bitches, as the Twins would put it, are often calling them.

In any case, being cut out from the initial trailer seems to well up a lot of feelings for the Twins. (They did end up appearing in the red band trailer about a month later.) We're supposed to be talking about their family, but I sit on the couch while they type a seemingly long and pissed-off email to Korine on an iPhone. First Sidney types while Thurman looks over his shoulder, then Thurman takes the phone and does a revision, Sidney looking over his shoulder, occasionally pointing at a word or two on the screen. I want to ask if this is how they write all of their emails, but it doesn't seem like the right time.

Later, I notice that when imitating the script of their detractors by saying things like, "They're disgusting! They're perverted! They're so creepy-looking!" the Twins seem to be hung up on the last point. I ask Thurman if he really thinks that people consider them "creepy" looking.

He says only, "Yes."

Such a clipped response is unusual for the Twins, who tend to supply 25 words when two would do. So I push him on the point, "Why?"

"Because they don't know us," he says.

The Twins have repeated the details of their biography in most of the stories written about them. They grew up in a working-class part of Chattanooga, Tenn., and from a very young age rejected the idea of ever being separated. Their father suffered from debilitating illnesses and died in front of them when they were 14. Their mother wasn't much of a parent, and they stopped regularly going to school around eighth grade. To the best of my knowledge and efforts to confirm the broad outline of their shared life, the stories that the Twins tell about their adolescence are true. Though the smaller details, like the age in the Rolling Stone story, occasionally are wrong or fuzzy, the stories that seem harder to believe always turn out to be true. Trying to understand why they're telling these specific stories is less clear.

Take, for example, the story about losing their virginity. Around the same time that their father died, the Twins discovered skateboarding, which came with the world of teenage parties, drinking, smoking weed, taking acid, and skipping school. They lost their virginity at one of these parties to a woman they described to me as "this pedophile bitch." The woman, apparently seven years their senior, asked someone else at the party to tell the Twins to come her bedroom. When they arrived, she was naked and asked them to take off their clothes. She had sex with one brother, then the other immediately afterward. Since that moment, the Twins explain, they've always been interested in having sex with the same woman.

It feels easy to pop-psychologize these moments, to suppose that by repeating a traumatic moment aloud, they are able to control and feel power over events in their lives that they were not able to control at the time. Or you might say that they're escaping feelings of abandonment by seeking the attentions of fame. Any of that might apply to retelling the story of watching their father die or talking about the girl they were simultaneously engaged to who decided to leave them. The Twins aren't particularly interested in psychological interpretations of why they do things, though. They are interested in being rich and famous.

Related Film

Spring Breakers

Official Site: www.springbreakersmovie.com

Director: Harmony Korine

Writer: Harmony Korine

Producer: Chris Hanley, Jordan Gertner, David Zander and Charles-Marie Anthonioz

Cast: Selena Gomez, James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Heather Morris, Rachel Korine, Ashley Lendzion and Gucci Mane

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