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The Return of Summer

Good Looks Times Two

June 03, 1998|NOA JONES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It's all done in the name of hot California swell-conquering fun.

For the right price and with great frequency, two identical young men allow themselves to be buffed, sprayed, primped and suitably groomed into fashion demigods. They scowl into the camera, strut suggestively down the runway, strip to their skivvies, and do all to appear cool, Euro and statuesque.

But the scowls and struts are misleading. Watching them plod down to the beach in flip-flops and baggy Katin trunks, one marvels at the transformation. Who were those trussed-up figures gift wrapped in rear-hugging Mylar shorts? Gone are the severe stares and slick hair.

In person, the fabulous Brewer twins, Keith and Derek, are so sweet they make saltwater taste like soda pop. So classically SoCal that the mere sight of them could propel an otherwise modest soul to slip into a bikini, rip open a pack of Doublemint gum and chirp Jan and Dean tunes.

Keith and Derek are identical-twin fashion supermodels born half an hour apart 24 years ago (much to the surprise of their mother, who was expecting only one little bundle of joy) and raised in Hermosa Beach. Seemingly kissed by the sun, they are blessed by the gods of fashion--Yves, Calvin, Hugo, et al.--and were recently ordained two of "The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World" by People magazine.

They are also peerless seekers of the ultimate wave.

"We live to surf," says Keith, and Derek nods in agreement.

They are living proof that the California Dream lives on--good, clean, sun-drenched fun helped along by the marvel of genetics and a stroke of luck. Equipped with all the right ingredients--sun-bleached hair, sandblasted tans, cut physiques, easy smiles, breezy attitudes, a righteous crash pad--they pursue a simple agenda: riding deep tubes.

Cashing in on their golden good looks, the two buy time on some of the most exotic places on Earth. One year, it's surfing Grajagan, Java, camping in a jungle that leads straight to some of the best left breaks in the world. The next year, it's maneuvering on the longest wave on the planet, in South Africa's Jeffreys Bay. This year, between magazine shoots and runway shows, they are planning a trip to surf the Philippines. When work calls them away, they immediately pull out a map and find the closest place to surf.

"It's an obsession," says Keith. And we're not talking Calvin Klein here.

"We take our boards to Europe," says Derek. "We get out of Paris as often as possible to surf Biarritz.

Such excursions are often impossible.

"They can't walk down Piccadilly Square without getting mobbed," says their agent, Paul West, of the newly formed Q Management. "They have an unprecedented cross-section of appeal from the teen market to the gay market to the fashion-philes," he says.

Sometimes they find themselves landlocked.

"Living in New York for a month is torture," Derek laments. The twins will have to endure such a fate when they take to the catwalks at New York's men's fashion shows in July. While there, they will also be plugging "Double Take" (Universe Publishing), a forthcoming ode to their twin perfection featuring never-before-seen photos from photographers Herb Ritts, Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, Bruce Weber and their own mom and dad.

The book starts with their childhood.

"People love to look at our baby pictures," says Derek.

Many more like to look at their beefcake pictures. In the early '90s, thousands of unauthorized Brewer twin Web sites cropped up all over the Internet. In response, the twins set up an official Web site (http://www.brewertwins.com), which has a cult following, with 50,000 hits a day. A portion of the funds raised by items sold at the site and by the book will be donated to the Surfrider Foundation, a San Clemente-based organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the state's coastal environment.

The twins are committed to their local beach as well. They prefer to be at home even if, as Derek and Keith decree, Hermosa Beach rates a mediocre 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to surf worthiness. Derek speaks fondly of their native turf.

"When the Northwest swell bounces off the Redondo breakwater, it's a good break," he says. "It's not world-class, but it's well-known. It ranks up there with the better waves in California."

The twins share the modest stucco home in which they were raised by parents Whitey and Nancy Brewer, with the surf just two blocks away. Dad now has the role of landlord.

Here, surfers shouldering boards are as common as people walking dogs in the suburbs. Colorful boards poke out of car trunks, hang in open garages, peek out of living room drapes, balance on every other tawny shoulder passing by. Keith and Derek join the legions every morning at 6:30.

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