Shane and Sia Barbi, both 50, became familiar faces after posing for Playboy Magazine in 1991. Their meteoric rise tossed them into the Hollywood limelight, as they were regularly seen with A-list actors and were among the most famous models of the 1990s. But where are they now?
In an interview with TheBlaze, the twin sisters opened up, sharing their past struggles with bulimia and self-image and, perhaps most shockingly, they detailed their views on the Christian faith and the nation’s political schema. While they were once pop culture icons, they are now involved, to varying degrees, in animal activism and current affairs.
Despite gaining monumental fame, the sisters were never your typical Hollywood elite. In fact, Shane, like her husband, actor Ken Wahl, favors traditional values and has never really been too intrigued by the Tinseltown lifestyle. This is certainly surprising, considering her past role as a Playboy model and the level of notoriety both she and Sia have enjoyed.
So, How Did They End Up in Playboy?
One can’t help but wonder how the twins ended up being the two most famous Playboy pinups in the magazine’s history. As the story goes, insecurity and life difficulties led them, in many ways, toward that success.
Shane told TheBlaze that the twins began modeling at an early age. While they first appeared in a Sears mail-order catalog at the age of seven, they later began taking pictures for mainstream outlets. The Barbis had consistent work and came from a family rooted in show business, but, as they grew up, they sought out higher education and so-called “normal” careers.
Their lives, of course, have been anything but normal.
Their path to Playboy was accidental. It began when they were featured in a billboard campaign in California — one that ended up capturing the attention of Hugh Hefner, the outlet’s founder. He was so impressed with what he saw that he sought out the girls. Before long, the twins were on the magazine’s cover, which sparked immense fame.
“[Playboy] came to us first. We were doing test shots for a photographer. [This] guy went nuts over the test shots [and] made a calendar… and a billboard,” Shane recalled. “Hefner saw it and went out of his way … to seek us out.”
Women go to Playboy for a variety of reasons. In the Barbi twins’ case, their dire emotional circumstances guided them.
How Bulimia and Their Success Impacted Them
“Playboy was a decision made from fear,” Shane told TheBlaze.
Even before Hefner discovered them, Shane and Sia were struggling with bulimia and image issues. Shane said that the two did intense workouts (eight to 10 hours per day) and regularly vomited — both elements that were rooted in control issues, she said. The fame that the cover shoot brought was so intense that it caused agoraphobia.
“We were like druggies with food and throwing up and laxatives. We were out of control and on top of that very difficult to deal with — like a person who would take drugs,” Shane explained.
When they made the Playboy decision, Shane and Sia believed that by baring it all they would be able to solve their problems, particularly their dislike for their own bodies (surprisingly, despite their success, they never liked the way they looked). Also, they contended that they might be able to help women dealing with similar bodily insecurities. In the end, though, these goals weren’t accomplished.
Playboy, Shane said, was a good business decision, despite the notion that it might not have been the healthiest choice at the time — or one that the twins would make again today. Still, the model had nothing but positive things to say about Hefner, who has remained close to the women.
“My life led up to that. I can’t go on in my life having regrets and trying to do things again,” Shane said. “I am who I am today because I did that … I was in a very bad place.”
Considering their bulimia and body image struggles, Shane said that the decision to pose nude was one that, had they been healthy, they probably wouldn’t have made. And, in fact, it was a decision they almost avoided. While they were thousands of feet in their air on their way to the first Playboy shoot, Shane remembers Sia having second thoughts and saying, “I’m not going to do this. God just won’t like this.”
They did the shoot anyway.
Initially, the two didn’t tell their parents about the decision. For one, her father was a conservative; her mother, on the other hand, was a progressive feminist. Neither would have approved, though they did eventually find out and come to terms with it. The first issue’s record-breaking sales made the news and the Barbi twins simply couldn’t hide from the world — their parents included.
As it turns out, their two Playboy covers — one in 1991 and another in 1993 — were among the magazine’s most popular ever.
The Barbi Twins’ Fascinating Background
In speaking with TheBlaze, the sisters also provided insight about their upbringing and how it shaped their inevitable path. Their father, a “very hardcore, Republican, Christian, Reagan-living Jimmy Stewart type” and their mother “an active 12-stepper” who Shane described as a “gay activist” were, quite obviously, polar opposites.
To a degree, the dichotomy that their parents presented added some intrigue into the mix, particularly when considering Shane and Sia’s career aspirations. Their father, as stated, was a strict conservative, and their mother was a progressive who was described as being much “freer.”
“We were good kids, but that can backfire,” Shane said of their upbringing. “What we did was we were the adults while my mom was this wild hippie child. She would wear mini-skirts and we’d say, ‘No mama, please.’”
The girls also described growing up on their dad’s ranch, where they developed an “unusual love for animals” (the twins are known for their activism in support of furry creatures). On the flip side, their mother was constantly involved in charity. Both perspectives helped shape the twins views.
While on the ranch, Shane said that the sisters learned how to shoot guns, ride tractors — and to be self-sufficient. Overall, they had what is described as a “good life,” although Shane admitted that it was “highly-dysfunctional.”
Her mother, a lesbian, raised the girls with belief in a higher power, although she said that the theological rooting was more “new age” than anything else. And their dad, too, regularly touted his Christian worldview.
Perhaps the most shocking admission from the twins’ childhood is their aspiration to be nuns, mainly because of their attachment to Saint Francis of Assisi. And contrary to their depiction in popular media, in their younger years, the twins dressed “very tomboyish” (Shane said that she and her sister also wanted to be veterinarians at one point).
The Barbi Twins’ Political and Religious Views
Other surprising facts about the Barbi Twins center upon their political and religious perspectives. On the political front, Shane most-definitely considers herself conservative-leaning, whereas Sia leans center left. But the two hold very distinct views on the political system — and they’re just now starting to voice them publicly.
Rather than describing herself based on what she is (i.e. giving herself a label), Shane noted what she’s not, explaining, “I am not a feminist, as a feminist cares more about her own body than nurturing a living creature inside or outside her body.”
Here, she’s clearly delving into the contentious abortion issue. Citing her extensive animal activism, she said that she’s pro-life across the board. “Pro-life for all life” is a mantra that the sisters use to describe their views on the right to life for all creatures.
“I love to care, nurture, protect, the fetus, or any living creature,” she added. “Being an animal activist to me is pretty consistent in my life to being pro-life.”
Additionally, Shane said she’s not a liberal and that she is charity-driven, with serious questions about the government’s operations and intentions (she also coined the phrase “veGUN” to encapsulate her support for both being a vegan and the Second Amendment).
Sia, too, shares many of these fascinating views, calling for small government that enables her to give to charity as she so chooses.
“My sister and I call ourselves ‘the Green Tea Party,’ which includes the freedom to be who we are,” she explained, noting that the two are into animals, the planet and health — but that’s not all. “I, too, am pro-life for all life and believe in the Second Amendment — not so much to hunt, but for us to not be hunted by the government.”
The sisters want to put principles before parties and are looking to become more open about these views and in calling Americans to come together and confront key issues.
Despite having differences of opinion with her mother — profound disparities that exist even today — Shane said that the two are still very close. They do, of course, fight regularly about politics, as her mother is, to this day, a progressive (we’ll tackle the twins’ views, below).
Once, Shane recalled telling her, “Mama, you would forgive me if I was a prostitute and had bulimia or if I was a drug dealer — you would forgive me for that, but not being a conservative, correct?” Her mother’s response? “You’re probably right.
As for their theology, both Shane and Sia are Bible-believing Christians. They believe in the Christian doctrine of accepting Jesus Christ, with Sia claiming, “I believe Christ has saved me because Christ, is, unconditional Love.”
While the details are under wraps, a major television company has approached the twins to discuss a television program that will be lighthearted — but political — in nature. You can read more about the Barbi twins on their official website.