Pop star and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member Erika Jayne on her new book, alter ego, and upcoming music.
My first impression, after reading Pretty Mess, was that you're fearless. This confidence, where does it come from?
ERIKA JAYNE: I think it comes from my relationship with life. I think part of being an only child, part of being brought up by a single mom, you have to learn to be self-reliant very early. There's no backup, so you become your own back up and you just flag it out. I have always been very resilient and always been someone that dreamed big, worked hard, hustled, and never really stopped.
I imagine your mother also must have pushed you, no? I was surprised to read that you had such a difficult relationship with her.
EJ: I think she was definitely a part of it. I think that she wanted for me, which she did not have for herself—this is going to sound so crazy, but not necessarily arts—but doing what she wanted. It just happened to be arts. She wanted something for me, to be able to choose and to enjoy and just dream big and have all those things.
Ya know, I could have wanted to be a doctor and she still would have been the same way. You see what I'm saying? It's not so much like I'm living out her stage dreams. It's just that she wanted me to have something. She wanted me to dream big. She didn't care what it was, I don't think. It just happened to be this.
Where did the bug to perform come from? 'Cause I read the bit about how you were the star of Ms. Jingle Bee growing up...
EJ: [Laughs] Well, listen. I don't think so much of it was like I wanted to be a star, as much as I knew that I really enjoyed performing. I enjoyed the arts and that made me happy. You know what I mean? Obviously, being recognized is the ultimate expression in a sense, but there's a lot more that goes into singing and the discipline of the arts than just the end product of, "Oh, people know who I am." That's kind of like the cherry on the top of the discipline of the art. It should be more about I love going to the studio every day. I love writing every day. More of those things instead of the adulation and taking the bow at the end.
And what about 'Little Red Riding Hoodlum'?
EJ: Oh, sh*t. [Laughs] It was a children's record that I did. I wish I still had the recording. It was like the first time I'd ever been in a recording studio. God, I couldn't have been more than like 10 or something.
But it was like a musical take on Little Red Riding Hood, except she was a hoodlum and she had a motorcycle, I think. Little Red Riding Hood, The Motorcycle Riding Child.
That sounds insane.
EJ: I thought so too. That's why it stuck with me all these years, quite honestly.
I have to ask you about this moment in the book, which was quite bold, where you gave your phone number to your now husband, Tom Girardi. I imagine that takes some guts, no?
EJ: Oh, yeah. It was around Christmas time and we were standing by the fireplace and just talking and chatting, and I said, "Hey, did you hear I was single?" and he said, "No." I said, "Yeah. Here's my number." "We should go out," and I said, "Yeah. Here's my number." Then he had his secretary call me the next day and want to know if I could go out that night. I told him, "No, I cannot."
But you knew he would call back, no?
EJ: No. I didn't know, but maybe. You never know for sure.
There's this amazing moment of clarity, maybe 10 years into your marriage with Tom, when you create Erika Jayne. Would you call it a reinvention?
EJ: Yes. I feel like I had done a whole lot of great stuff and then I wanted to create again, and the opportunity came so I did it. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Never stopped. That's the whole crux of the story. The story is the reinvention and the coming alive at 35. Just saying, "Hey. I want to create again."
How did 'Pretty Mess' come about?
EJ: I was writing a poem. I was in a studio with Peter Rafelson. We were making music and I just had kind of written a poem and just strung some words together, and I said it to him, and I was like, "It's kind of stupid." He goes, "No. Let's try and work on that. There's something there. Let's play it out. Let's see what happens." That's how it ended up being 'Pretty Mess.'
Am I right to say that you made your return to the stage at a sex party?
EJ: It was in San Francisco. It was not necessarily like a sex party, but kind of like a swingers party. It was called the Nymphomaniac's Ball. It was a good stage. It was a good theater. I got paid and we were doing the show. It was hilarious. Tom came and the sound went out and I was like, "What the f*ck is this? What am I doing?" It was pure f*cking comedy. We still talk about it today.
There I was, and I was like, "Oh my God. This has never happened to me in my professional life, and I've been on stage a lot, and here's my first out. Here's my first show after sitting on the bench for 10 years and it f*cking blows up?" Literally, you can't even put it into words. It would be difficult to put into words what actually f*cking happened.
Erika Jayne on the set of her dance hit XXPEN$IVE.
You've got so many great songs. I love 'One Hot Pleasure,' and, of course, 'Pretty Mess,' but is there one you enjoy performing the most?
EJ: To perform? I think that you said 'Pretty Mess,' which is kind of like the baseline for the whole project. That's always special. I enjoy every one of my songs, really. I enjoy all the shows that we put together. What keeps it fresh is we're constantly changing it up, so I haven't grown tired of any of them.
Please tell me there's more music on the way...
EJ: I'm super excited that I've actually got new music coming. I should have something out within the next, I want to say four to six weeks. It will be straight Erika Jayne.
Photography via Facebook.com/ErikaJayneMusic