Four of a kind? Identical quads couldn't be more different

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 15, 2011 - 6:02 AM

Minnesota's new reality TV stars  - identical quadruplets from Buffalo - are ready to go their own ways after 18 years together. But can they ever escape each other? And do they really want to?

For 18 years, the Durst quadruplets believed in the power of four. No longer.

On the eve of their 18th birthday, the identical quadruplets from Buffalo, Minn., retreated to their tiny basement bedroom, where they share two bunk beds, three dressers, four mirrors lined against a wall and one never-ending debate about what life would be like free of the others.

It's the same room where the quad squad crawled around in diapers, butting heads as infants -- four on the floor and already under the microscope.

But now, when these four freckled-faced dynamos let their long red hair down and sat in front of the four mirrors, each saw something entirely different.

Kendra, for one, had seen enough.

"I'm sick of my sisters," said Kendra, who once threw a hairbrush at Megan, calls sister Sarah "retarded" and didn't vote for Calli, the other quadruplet, for homecoming queen.

"The last thing I want to do is spend my 18th birthday with my sisters. It's like having three spies on your back," she said. "I can't wait to go off to college and start my own life."

Their Lifetime reality TV series, which debuts Tuesday night, is called "Four of a Kind," yet these identical quadruplets never have seemed more different. They've wondered their entire lives what it must be like to be individuals.

"I've taken every step with three people with me," said Megan, the most boy-conscious of the bunch.

Bold, beautiful and a bit brash, these are the same indefatigable whirlwinds who once commandeered Donald Trump's office and asked, "Are you rich?" Always animated, they left George Clooney and Rob Lowe dazed and breathless during one of their early appearances on "The Tonight Show." As Jay Leno told Oprah Winfrey years ago, you don't interview the Durst quadruplets, you referee them.

They have survived the talk shows, the raging hormones of five teenagers under one roof, their parents' divorce and years of being identified as "Durst girl" or "one of the quads." They are confident they will endure Lifetime's six-part series in four-part harmony.

As one of about five dozen sets of identical quadruplets worldwide, the Dursts have been in the media spotlight since birth. Dr. Harry Farb, who delivered them at North Memorial in Robbinsdale, remembers having to "keep the media at bay." During the final days of Naomi Durst's pregnancy, he remembers hospital personnel asking, "When are you going to deliver? When are you going to deliver?"

Naomi Durst, an English teacher at Maple Lake High School, beat the odds of one in 700,000 by having quadruplets without using fertility drugs. She might be defying even greater odds by maintaining her sanity. Because the odds of these girls agreeing on anything these days remains off the charts.

If somebody rents a movie, that's what they all watch. If somebody has food, that's what they eat.

Or try to eat.

"Calli, are you sure you know how to make macaroni?" Sarah asked, adding, "You have to boil the water!"

Everything else except boys -- Megan's the only one who dates because she says boys deliver less drama -- seems to be a competition.

Who's got dibs on the shower? Who's got dibs on that sweatshirt? Who's got dibs on driving? And the driver controls the music, something they rarely agree upon.

"I'm the best driver," said Calli, the only one to pass her written test on the first try.

"Megan swerves," said Kendra. "Sarah is the worst. She drives like a grandma."

"I'm a horrible freeway driver," said Megan. "Sarah's probably a better freeway driver than me."

"I've had two accidents, but one, I slid in a ditch," said Sarah. "Does that count?"

Surviving each other has been the hard part. They know there is strength in numbers. When Calli left gymnastics to pursue basketball in the ninth grade, Megan recalled, in disbelief, somebody seeing the three remaining sisters on the team and asking, "Are you triplets?"

But they also have understood a new math since their 18th birthday -- 18 divided by four equals four ones.

It is the tension of these four high school girls about to take their first step into adulthood -- college -- that fuels their reality TV series, according to Lifetime staff. The big series cliffhanger centers on whether the girls will split up or stay together next fall as they pursue the rest of their lives. (The kids aren't saying ... yet.) If you want juicy TV, watch Charlie Sheen on the 10 p.m. news.

The Dursts have not previewed the series that took more than three months of filming by a California crew of two dozen. They know they're taking a chance. But the family jumped at the opportunity when Naomi Durst was told that the family would be paid enough to cover "a considerable amount" of the quadruplets' college expenses.

"We're like any other teenagers," said Sarah, acknowledging that most teenagers don't have a lawyer, agent or producers. But she also knows what it's like to share with three others the room with the least amount of closet space in a modest home.

"It sucks," she says. "There's no space at all. It's fun to want, isn't it?"

Brother Travis Durst, 19, a freshman at Alexandria Technical College, said he's anxious to see the series. Naomi Durst hopes the family is portrayed honestly. Jim Durst, the father whom the girls rarely mentioned during lengthy interviews with the Star Tribune, will also be featured.

The girls -- while focused on the TV series and squeezing every last ounce out of their high school careers -- seemed mostly concerned with one another.

Calli says Sarah "really annoys me," but would confide in Sarah first. Megan, who "butts heads" with Kendra, admires Kendra for "having a backbone." Kendra, who says she won't miss any of them, will be the first to come home from college, her sisters agree. And, yes, Kendra had dinner with her sisters on their 18th birthday.

They plan to get identical tattoos, either four-leaf clovers or Bible verses.

"We've never spent more than two days on our own," Sarah said.

In sixth grade, she went to Mankato overnight with friends. There was a tornado.

"I was scared," she recalled. "I never had to face a scary situation by myself. We always have a sister there."

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419

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