Identical twins have been a perennial theme of folklore and literature since Romulus and Remus shrewdly picked up some real estate in what turned out to be Rome. After a look at our October Playmates - 18-year-old Mary and Madeleine Collinson - it's easy to understand why Shakespeare, Thornton Wilder and Lewis Carroll, to name a few, felt compelled to express their fascination for this unusual sibling relationship. Although these brown-eyed beauties agree that being look-alikes is great fun, their biological uniqueness can be a problem. "Sometimes people treat us differently from other kids just because we're twins," says Madeleine. In an uncannily similar voice, Mary concurs: "They think we're special, but we don't like the distinction. This is one of the reasons we left home." Home for the Collinson girls - the second pair of twins in their family - is Malta, the tiny formerly British island in the Mediterranean whose inhabitants speak an exotic blend of Arabic and Italian dialects. Over a year and a half ago - when they both decided that life there was too orthodox and insular - the pair migrated to London to embark on a career in fashion modeling. "At first it was a difficult adjustment," recalls Mary, "since we had no close friends or relatives to help us. We didn't know how to manage a career and we had to learn the hard way. Some people tried to take advantage of us because of our inexperience and often promised us jobs we never got." Happily, things have changed for this free-spirited twosome. Because of the enthusiasm they share for almost everything they do, their disappointments were short-lived (and with a little help from each other). "We were capable of taking care of ourselves and we did." With more modeling jobs coming their way - the most recent on location in Spain - the twins find that their hectic schedules leave them little leisure time. Since most of their assignments are à deux, they make their daily rounds together, visiting photographers, taking test shots and going over their picture layouts. "Modeling is like a continuous holiday - wearing pretty clothes and getting paid for it," they echo, but Madeleine confesses it's not an easy life. "The competition is tremendous. There's always going to be someone who's better or prettier than you are, so you have to be in tiptop shape all the time, and it's very tiring." Her counterpart nods, remembering periods of utter exhaustion after working seven days a week. "But I have to be doing something," says Madeleine. "I couldn't stay home for very long. Modeling keeps me busy and the pay is good." True to their genetic make-up, the girls not only look alike but mirror each other's thoughts and opinions on subjects that run the gamut from career and marriage to politics and pastimes. "Talking to one of us is like talking to the other," Madeleine says. "There's really little difference in the way we think and in the things we like to do." So it's not surprising that the two spend their free time as well as their working hours together. If they aren't reading (they prefer fiction) or listening to music (Johann Strauss is a favorite), you might find them testing their expertise on the slopes in Gstaad, Switzerland (they plan to become expert skiiers). A recent junket was a tour of Austria, Germany, Belgium and Italy by car with a group of friends. Although they like the gaiety of London's discothèques and pubs, M and M's idea of a perfect day is a stroll through Hyde Park, where they enjoy rowing on the Serpentine, or visiting the Regent's Park zoo. With so few vacations and such long and unpredictable working hours, however, the girls find it difficult to date and almost impossible to have steady boyfriends; but it's an occupational hazard they accept willingly - for the present. As Madeleine explains, "When we have to break dates because of an assignment, men just don't understand. But if we have to choose between our social life and a job, our work is more important. We just don't want to be involved with anyone - at least for now." Even though both of them claim impatience as one of their vices, neither is in a hurry to give up her independence for matrimony. With predictable agreement, they plan to work for at least five more years "to earn enough money to be independent, even after marriage." Self-sufficient though they may be, a trip home - four hours by air from London - to be with family and friends is a welcome relief for this hard-working team. They take maximum advantage of Malta's salubrious climate by going sailing and taking moonlight swims on their favorite beaches. Malta's blend of Old World and New is alluringly tranquil, but the girls prefer the "freedom and excitement" of London. Ideally, they'd like to own a retreat on Malta where they could vacation two months every year, but both agree they'll never return to stay. "It's too backward and parochial," explains Madeleine (or is it Mary this time?). "The ideas, freedoms and even the fashions of young people aren't readily accepted. Each generation is the same and the Maltese want to keep it that way. Once you've traveled, you feel trapped there, and we're too free-thinking to conform to its customs and traditions." Although the twins have spent a lot of time traveling, a recent visit to the States - highlighted by a stay in Chicago for their Playboy assignment - has been the most exciting adventure to date for this nomadic pair. In fact, they were so impressed with what they saw that they've considered the possibility of moving here. "We'd probably live in California, but we'll have to give it serious thought before moving so far from our family and friends." It would be quite a step for the twins, but we hope they take it.
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