updated 02/24/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 02/24/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST
Which is precisely their appeal, say Richard and Fred Fairbrass. the bare-paled brothers from London whose self-mocking dance ditty, "I'm Too Sexy," has hit No. 1 in the U.S. "Kids got off on it because it's jokey and silly," says Richard, 31, who with Fred, 28. and un-bald guitarist Rob Manzoli, 31, comprise the trio Right Said Fred. "Older people got off on it because it's a song about sex but it's not in any way sexual. It's a completely unsexy song because it's so daft."
The same cannot be said of the song's decidedly un-unsexy video, a fashion show send-up in which the bare-chested Fairbrass boys flex and prance on a showroom runway while being shot by bikinied female photographers. Reprising the video's catwalk sashays during live performances has been fun—for the most pail. What irritated me," says Richard, "was a couple of actual male models who got shouted at louder than we did. They were fractionally better-looking."
The only sons of a London printer and a housewife, the Fairbrass lads have been rocking to limited fanfare since the early 1980s. When their music careers failed to fly, they resorted to pickup work—gardening, painting, even selling fire extinguishers door-to-door. They also got rid of their hair. Fred, who had once shaved his head on a whim, did it again in 1989. Right, said Richard, and follow suit. At the time both were working as managers of a London gym, a milieu they were quick to skewer even as they joined in the pecs preening. "I had this line, 'I'm too sew for my shirt,' " says Richard. "I couldn't help singing it." Adds Manzoli: "The line just kept going round and round."
Joined in 1990 by Manzoli, who has backed Muddy Waters and ZZ Top on tour, the brothers borrowed a band name from the title of a 1962 British novelty record, and Right Said Fred quickly quirked to life. A pastiche of live sounds, canned music samples and computer-generated rhythm tracks, "I'm Too Sexy" cost little, sold plenty—2.5 million copies worldwide to date—and allowed the Fairbrasses to quit the gym. Now they've landed a contract for an entire album, due next month. So far neither has gone on a spree with his royalties, though both say they would like to move out of their separate one-bedroom flats soon. ("We tried living together, but Fred was barren, so we separated," offers Richard.) Are they destined for one-hit wonder-dom? No, says Richard. "We are too sexy for some things."
JOHN WRIGHT in London