Any story about Sidney and Thurman Sewell starts with a party. People are always hanging around their Midtown loft, sipping vodka and soda and staring out the floor-to-ceiling windows 26 stories above Peachtree Street. Sometimes it's a music video director and a girl they met in the strip club or a guy they used to skateboard with and a few girls they met while, well, they really can't remember. Maybe Trinidad James is on the stereo. Maybe Gucci Mane. Some pictures that Terry Richardson took for a fashion magazine are framed on the wall. Sidney and Thurman hang out with reporters a lot. One January night, a photographer and I are the journalists at the party. The next weekend it will be a couple of guys with Vice. The month after that, a Page Six spy will report their activities at a club in New York. There isn't much to do at their loft except sit around on the white leather couch or their bed and watch music videos and get drunk. Everyone is just here to hang out with Sidney and Thurman, better known as the ATL Twins, identical twin brothers who share everything — their women, their bed, their car, their lives.
Most people have trouble telling the Twins apart. If you hang around the party long enough, you'll hear one of the girls say, "Wait, am I talking to Sidney? Or Thurman?" right to one of their faces. (The trick to telling them apart is in the skin. Thurman's looks slightly older, more dull and worn out, than Sidney's.) It's true that Sidney and Thurman like to share. Here at the party, the Twins are trading sips from a fifth of Grey Goose and they're passing the same cigarette back and forth and they're snorting lines from the same bag of coke. They're generous with these things; they like to share with everyone who comes around. Later in the night, Thurman tells me, they plan to share one of the girls, a masseuse. People usually get hung up on the mechanics of two brothers having sex with the same woman. Like, how does that work? The answer is one after another, not three at a time. Usually, that's the answer. In any case, they don't bother waiting for people to leave before putting the moves on the masseuse. No one here is very inhibited.
At the party, a life of sharing doesn't seem that hard. Nothing does. The women and the coke and the money and everything, all of it always seems easy. What the Twins are good at, perhaps more than anything, is making their lives look easy, even if that hasn't always been the case. The Twins have created an image, a life of decadent leisure, of having an unlimited amount of anything they want, especially attention.
The Twins can't imagine reaching the point of having enough attention.
There's the story about them in Rolling Stone's Hot List issue, the one that ends with Sidney saying, "We want to be as big as Justin Bieber!" Not enough. There's the 10-page spread in Hustler with the porn stars. They've done better. There's the end of the music video for the Black Keys' "Gold on the Ceiling," when they pose and boast behind a cake baked to look like gold bars. They had a bigger part, they say, but it got cut down to the last few seconds. There's the 2011 interview in Vice that introduced them to the world, and then the new one, with them on the magazine's cover. They'd like to see more. There's the short film they showed me one night, commissioned by Gucci and directed by James Franco, with an operatic score and a bunch of people, including them, in very nice suits. It's unreleased. What the fuck good is a movie if people haven't seen it?
So, anyway, on the cold January night on which this story of the Twins begins, most of the talk at the party is about their next big thing, a movie called Spring Breakers, starring the inexhaustible James Franco, Justin Bieber's ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez and three other pretty young girls, the occasionally incarcerated rapper Gucci Mane, and the Twins. James Franco plays a rapper and criminal whom the girls get mixed up with when they head down to Florida for spring break.
Spring Breakers' director, the idiosyncratic auteur Harmony Korine, discovered the Twins through the original Vice interview. In the story, which of course begins at a party at the Twins' loft, skateboarding reporter and pornography critic Chris Nieratko asks them questions like, "Have you always dressed the same?" and "When you're double-teaming a girl is it always double penetration?" The Twins, whose responses have been transcribed as a single speaker, offer up lurid details and outlandish claims. "We got big ass dicks, man," they say. "We always got a bitch in the middle, every night," they say. In the photographs, the Twins strike exaggerated poses next to a half-naked stripper. The Twins look pale and thin, like the Appalachian characters that populate James Dickey's Deliverance, but dress in a style appropriate for a rap music video: gold teeth, crisp shirts, blinging chains. The interview seems to be either a self-mocking freak show or a fantastically shrewd media stunt. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Most of the stories written about them since have essentially been rewrites of Nieratko's interview, with the same stories about double penetration and shared anything and everything.