Erika Jayne and her “Girlfriends”
Erika Jayne is covered in naked men.
Well, predominantly naked men. Through a Gordian knot of limbs, chiselled abs, chiselleder jawlines, and tanned flesh, I can just make out an eyeball’s barrage of multi-colored sequins, and a curtain of bleach-blonde hair. Erika Jayne is on an enormous bed in the penthouse suite of the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, beneath four fabulous boys, and surrounded by a jostling fashion team of no less than one woman and 11 men.
“My most deepest, darkest secrets I only confide in my male friends,” she informs me shortly after, dressed down from Zuhair Murad splendor into a cozy hotel dressing gown. “Except for the exception of a couple of older, older female friends that I have,” she continues. Why do you think that is? I ask. “Less judgment.” She answers plainly.
At first glance Jayne seems to be several atmospheric layers above sensitivity to judgment, but that would be to mistake the confidence of the performer for the person underneath, “I think everyone is a social chameleon and depending on where you are you adapt to your environment,” she tells me, her piercing blue eyes beneath mermaid shades of eyeshadow. “Obviously I’m a performer, and my performance personality is much bigger and more over the top.”
Erika Jayne is the stage name and personality of Erika Girardi. She’s a singer, actress, gay icon, and television identity, whose best known feats include nine number-one singles on the Billboard Dance Club Songs charts; their accompanying erotically charged, visually thermonuclear film clips; and an ongoing stint on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Jayne moved to New York straight out of high school aged 18 to be a performer, “I loved every minute of it,” she tells me. “I was a teenager and I was having a really great time.” She got married, and had a child, but the relationship didn’t last. She eventually found herself in Los Angeles, meeting the prominent L.A. lawyer Thomas Girardi whilst waiting his table, before marrying him in 1999 and becoming a ‘housewife.’ In an unusual plot-twist Jayne recorded her first number one dance hit “Roller Coaster” in 2006. “I’d like to think that housewives – almost the word ‘housewives’ – has come a long way,” Girardi muses, “Housewives are doing all kinds of things. They’re career women, they’re raising children, they’re creative, they’re forward thinking, they have their own businesses. It’s not just like the housewives of old. It’s not just staying at home and making sure that everything’s perfect – which is great too, but I think that as everyone’s lives become more complicated you have to do more. We as women wear many hats.”
Indeed, in the United States, the prime age participation rate of females in the workforce (those aged between 25 and 54 who are employed or seeking work) has gone from 25% in 1940, to 76% in 2010. The housewife of old is a dying breed, but Erika Jayne is certainly several evolutionary phases beyond the fading archetype – bold stilettoed dance steps into a future of more feathers, and many more sequins. Her new single “XXpen$ive” dropped earlier this year, “I think it’s always important to keep pushing, and keep creating, and keep reinventing, and keep being inspired,” she tells me.
Our short interview at its end, we make our goodbyes. The four boys, her male girlfriends Donald, Willie, Davis, and David, have already departed. As I exit the penthouse, she asks the room of scurrying aides and the remainder of the fashion team packing away their wares, “Are we getting in the bathtub now?” I turn back with the question balanced between my brain and my lips but watch the door close.
Written by Gus Donohoo
Photographer: Dennis Leupold for No-Name Management
Stylist: Dani Michelle
Location: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Catering: Pono Burger in Santa Monica, Venice, and West Hollywood