It can be hard to come off as sane when you're a cast member on the Real Housewives franchise, but it's that much harder in the over-the-top, opulent world of Beverly Hills, where buying black swans for your moat and throwing a party to reveal your nose job can seem almost typical -- almost. But somehow Erika Girardi, or Erika Jayne to those who love her, strutted onto the show as the catsuit-wearing, no-bullshit voice of reason -- who also happens to "pat the puss" professionally. This is, after all, Beverly Hills.
Since joining the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills roster for Season 6, Erika has became a fan-favorite and the best addition to the series since Lisa Vanderpump's ponies. And Erika Jayne, who we meet on the series, has been Girardi's creative outlet since 2007, when she released her first Billboard Dance Club chart-topping single, "Rollercoaster." The enigma wrapped in a riddle (and cash) recently spoke to MTV News over the phone to talk about her off-duty style, propelling herself out of the reality TV zeitgeist and into our hearts, and something we both agreed on: the correct way to spell "Erika."
Erika Jayne: Hi, Erika. This is so cool! No one named Erika ever interviews me.
Jayne: It's, like, really cool for me. Yeah, I mean there aren't a lot of Erikas -- I don't think, anyway.
How often did people spell your name wrong growing up? Because Erika with a "k" is difficult for people.
Jayne: And it's the proper way to do it, in my opinion. But yeah, a lot. Everybody always put a "c."
Your style is basically the antithesis of the average Housewife's style, and you’ve said that people always make snap judgments based on how you look. How do you handle that?
Jayne: Well, listen, I like clothes. I like fashion. I enjoy playing with it. I think that you can become a lot of different characters with fashion. Some days you may feel very Alexander McQueen and suited up, and other days you might want to be uptown funky fresh -- I mean, I know that sounds corny, but you can be a lot of different people. I enjoy playing with clothes. And the fashion of the other housewives? I mean, hey, that's their thing. I just like to push it a little.
Your glam squad is obviously a huge part of the life of both Erikas -- how did you assemble the perfect glam team?
Jayne: I met [makeup artist] Scott [Barnes] through my publicist Jack Ketsoyan, and we hit it off and we just never stopped working together. You know it's a very small, tight-knit circle, and when you find people that you jell with, you tend to use them over and over. ... You really don’t let them go.
What is an average day of glam for Erika Girardi?
Jayne: Are we talking, like, Erika Girardi — not on TV, just, like, right now?
Yeah, it's an average day. You're not doing anything except maybe running a few errands.
Jayne: I’m going to tell you: Where I’m giving you this interview right now is inside my Lamborghini in front of my garage. I just pulled up. What do I have on my face right now? Nothing, except the remnants of last night's eyeliner from the Alice Through the Looking Glass premiere. I mean, I look like shit. I look like shit and my hair's down and I have not an inch of makeup on. When I'm not working, I'm not working.
What’s the longest you’ve spent in hair or makeup?
Jayne: No one can sit more than two hours. That is the max. If you can't get it right in two hours -- what other trick can you pull? What else can you fucking do? There's only so much brushes and product can do for you.
That's an excellent point. If it takes more than two hours, something's wrong.
Jayne: Something's way wrong. It's you or them.
Erika Jayne has a very specific look -- you’re known for the big blonde hair, catsuits, a ton of glitz. How did you come up with the style for Erika Jayne?
Jayne: I like to describe my style as S&M chic with a little hood-rat appeal. But, you know, Erika Jayne kind of evolved over those years and kept getting more and more refined. It's fun to have an over-the-top stage personality. I don't want to walk around in costume all day long. I don't want to walk around in a catsuit, I don't want to walk around in fishnets. But when you hit the stage, all of that helps you become a better performer in a way because you can get into it more.
Your latest single, "How Many Fucks," is so perfect. How did you come up with all the different looks for the video?
Jayne: I wish I did. I didn't. My stylist, Dani Michelle, she and Mikey [Minden] had sat down and we talked about what we wanted to get across. We came up with the three worlds -- the white diamond, the gold, and the pink -- and had a long discussion about, "OK, what do we like? What are we trying to say?" Those things come together when artists, stylists, creative directors, directors sit down and form a vision.
I heard you don’t get a stylist for the Bravo show but you obviously have your squad. What was the plan of attack for picking out your TV looks?
Jayne: Well, you don't get a stylist; that's 100 percent true. It's all based on your own wardrobe. And, fortunately for me, I have a big one. So I was able to rely on some really good vintage pieces and then go and get other things. And then I photographed everything that I wore, even if it's jeans and t-shirts, just to make sure you don't repeat. That's down to the accessories as well. And that's not because you can't wear the same jeans twice, but you wouldn't wear them the same way twice.
Especially when you have the closet that you do, there's no reason to repeat things.
Jayne: Not really. Fortunately, I have enough to kind of stretch it out. But certain things, like your vintage pieces -- I wear them, then I put them down for one or two seasons and then I bring them back. I mean, there’s no reason not to. You spend really good money for those. They're well-made things and you'll have them forever.
Lately there’s been more talk about ageism in Hollywood and the music industry, with Madonna recently calling people out for saying she shouldn’t dress sexy because of her age. You got a little bit of a later start with your music career, but you don't hold back when it comes to showing your body or talking about sex. Do you ever think about ageism in the industry?
Jayne: I think for me, growing up in the theater and growing up a singer/dancer, I never really gave it a second thought. And I don't think women should now. I don't think anyone should tap you on the shoulder and tell you that it's time to sit down and retire. Imagine if I told you, "You know what, you should really hang it up right now." As women, we need to do more to support each other. And I think it's a lot of old rules that are being broken.
I'm going to be 45 in July and — am I the same person I was at 21? No, but I don't want to be 21. We have to celebrate everyone the way they are. For Madonna, that is my total, 100 percent inspiration and icon in life, and as far as I'm concerned, she looks great. She's out there doing it just as good as anybody else.
While performing as Erika Jayne, you've built up a really big following in the LGBT community, but have you noticed any changes or growth in your audiences since you’ve been on the show?
Jayne: 100 percent. I could not believe it. There are young women and middle-aged women coming to my shows, and they're coming up to me at the meet-and-greet afterward and they're saying things like, "Thank you so much for being yourself and being on stage and inspiring others," which I would have never thought possible, honestly. So that has been, not only surprising, but very rewarding. It's really nice to see that happen.
You’ve said in the past that you like to keep busy and achieve the goals you set for yourself. What’s your next big goal?
Jayne: You know, I have more music, I have bigger shows. Who knows what happens with Housewives? I will say this, what a great opportunity to have been on the show, and the doors that it's opened for me, and I have nothing but great things to say about the show. I just kind of feel like I'll always be creating as Erika Jayne, and right now I just feel like the sky's the limit.
Can you say if you're on the next season of the show?
Jayne: I really can't.
Jayne: I just can't. I'm sorry. I wish I could, but I can't!
In your own words, what does "cunty" mean to you?
Jayne: Confident. Sexy. Take no prisoners. Powerful. Beautiful. Woman.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.