The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Girardi – also known as her alter ego Erika Jayne – has written a highly anticipated (at least among us RHOBH fans) tell-all book called Pretty Mess that officially hit shelves yesterday.
Many people have mixed feelings about her, including me, especially after last week’s RHOBH episode where she came off as an aggressive bully and “mean girl” talking down to and snapping at co-star Teddi Mellencamp. The interwebs tore her apart, and gossip columnist and Real Housewife franchise junky Shinan Govani summed up her demise in this Tweet following the episode:
Which is why it was no surprise when I was strutting around town with a very exclusive advanced copy of Pretty Mess in my hand over the past week, everyone and anyone came up to me inquiring about her tell-all to ask whether or not there’s more to her than her husband’s money, her glam squad, and her rich bitch image.
And I think people were as surprised as I was when I told them that I actually found the book a bit endearing, and while reading it, it allowed me to get to see why she is the way she is. Not that it makes it okay to treat people a certain way, because I’m an advocate for treating everyone with respect and loving kindness. But I did fall for this tough as nails Cancer just a bit when I was able to learn more about her upbringing, how she met her husband, why she speaks up for herself and her strong work ethic.
I even feel a little bit stronger as a woman reading it because love her or hate her, she’s going out there and doing what she wants (dancing, singing and performing) at a time and age in life where most people – especially with her wealth – would hang up the proverbial crown.
Here are the 7 things I learned about Erika Jayne in Pretty Mess:
Her stage name Erika Jayne was kind of a mistake
“I wanted to just be “Erika” but then it’s too close to Madonna or Cher. I hadn’t earned one-name status quite yet. Peter (her assistant) finally said, “The only thing that goes with Erika is Jayne.” Fine, whatever, I said, giving up and hating it a little. Then I read that Joan Crawford hated her stage name because it sounded like Joan Crawfish and then I started to equate Jayne with Jayne Mansfield, whom I loved. It started to grow on me.”
On starting out in music as an adult
(after 10 years of not performing at all)
“I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. You really have to live and breathe in those moments, because that’s where the growth is. The growth isn’t when things are good. It’s when it’s horrible and you stay in it. You improve when you’re unsure and it’s a struggle. We all have to look stupid and feel like shit in order to evolve.”
She knew her now husband Tom Gerardi for a year before they started dating, and have now been married for 18 years
The common misconception about how her and Mr. Girardi (as she often calls him) met is that she was a cocktail waitress and he came in – money and notoriety a blazing – and they wed in a typical older man, young pretty girl kind of way. But that’s not the case. She had been working at Chasens, a high end restaurant in Beverly Hills at the time and he was an investor in the spot. Because of that he went there regularly for all his meetings upstairs in the private club where she worked and over the course of a year the two developed a friendship, despite their 33 year age difference.
“What really attracted me to him was the way that he interacted with people. This man treats everyone with respect. Whether it’s the cocktail waitress, the server, the janitor – he acknowledges everyone and looks them in the eye. He was obviously very wealthy, very well educated, and at the top of his field, yet he was so kind and generous.”
She was the one to ask her husband out
After a year of knowing each other, she told him she was single and gave him her number. The next day his secretary called her to set up a date with him for that night and she said, “Absolutely not. Tell Mr. Girardi if he wants to take me out on a date, he needs to call me himself and ask me and give me enough time to prepare.” You know how men are, especially if they are successful. They expect you to drop everything right away. That’s not how I work, I don’t care who you are.
On her and her husband’s age gap
“It was always a bigger deal to everyone else than it was to either of us. All a couple really needs is to have the same life philosophy. If you see things the same way, then age, race, religion – none of that comes into play. When you want and enjoy the same things, it’s more important than being born during the same presidential administration.”
She got on RHOBH because of Yolana Foster
(Gigi and Bella Hadid’s mom!)
Though she had a cult following the struggles and disappointments of Erika Jayne were really getting her down and after a failed meeting with a music manager that wasn’t on board with her, she planned on retiring her persona. About a week later her and Mr. Girardi were going to spend an afternoon with David Foster and his then wife Yolanda. When they got there Erika was saying she was frustrated with her music when Yolanda said “Have you ever thought about being on Real Housewives?” Within a few days she was hired on and thrown into recording. That alone skyrocketed her name and brand and revived her musical and dancing career taking it to heights she never dreamed of.
She’s sharing her advice for building a personal brand
Want to work on your personal brand? Erika says that you need to know the words that make up the persona you want so you can feed off of it and grow from that. The six words that guide her brand are: fantasy, love, escape, glitz, glamour and fun.
Pretty Mess by Erika Jayne is available now on Amazon for $31.25 CAD.