Take a Quarter Ton of Talent, Add a Heap of Self-Promotion, and You've Got the Barbarian Brothers

updated 08/12/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/12/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Barbarian Brothers have a problem, which they have dubbed "bigorexia." Explains David, "It is an obsession like anorexia. We always look at ourselves and ask, 'Do we look big?' We get crazy about looking small." With a combined weight of more than 500 pounds, the twin 27-year-old bodybuilders and fledgling comic actors needn't worry.

Nor should they fret about thinking small. "We always knew we would be famous," says David (right), the younger of the two Hartford, Conn, natives, matter-of-factly. He and brother Peter went to L.A. in 1979 and headed immediately for the legendary Gold's Gym. Their irrepressible spirits and if-you-see-it-lift-it workout technique led to articles in Muscle and Fitness magazine and then spots on local TV shows. Before long they had landed small parts in D.C. Cab and The Flamingo Kid. In the last year they have signed deals for: 1) three Barbarian movies, the first of which is slated to be shot next year; 2) their own independent co-produced feature, Better Than One, which begins filming next month; and 3) recurring roles on Aaron Spelling's upcoming fall action series on ABC, Hollywood Beat. And, of course, the brothers are negotiating for the de rigueur merchandising spin-offs—Barbarian posters, dolls, books, records, you name it.

The Barbarians were born David and Peter Paul. Hyperactive and dyslexic as children, they frazzled their mother, who is a teacher, and their father, a real estate developer, with antics like sawing off legs of neighbors' chairs. They took up weight lifting in high school and, by their sophomore year at the University of Rhode Island, had opened their own gym, P&D's House of Iron. Heading west after college, with their few belongings wrapped in laundry bundles, they lived together in a studio apartment and subsisted on a diet of junk food and 36 protein-rich eggs each per day.

Today they can afford steak. And as they begin collecting the reported $150,000 each, plus points, that they will get from Better Than One, they can expand a little. Peter is now cramped in a Marina del Rey one-room apartment; David has been bunking with friends. But both hope to make their home on the Topanga Canyon acreage they purchased a year ago. That may be soon, for in these day of Rambo, the Barbarians feel their time has come. "We have more appeal than Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. T and Sly Stallone," says Peter with more hyperbole than accuracy.

"Besides," he adds, "there are two of us."

Can't argue with that.

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